Home for horses stalls near Eagle | VailDaily.com

Home for horses stalls near Eagle

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” Plans for an equestrian center at Salt Creek in Eagle are stalled again after developers failed to make recommended changes or provide information on the project to county officials.

Adam’s Rib developer Fred Kummer has planned to build the equestrian center on 520 acres south of Eagle since 2004. The project has once again been tabled for further discussion by the county commissioners. Neighbors who oppose the project, there’s a dispute as to exactly what will be allowed to be built on the land, and the commissioners question whether the facility could provide the water it needs.

Kummer wants the center to include a 48,000-square-foot outdoor arena, indoor stables for 30 horses, a ranch manager’s house, two employee bunkhouses and an additional single-family home.

When the project was approved by the county in 2004, the plans only called for the horse facilities and housing for a ranch manager with an attached “mother-in-law” apartment.

“What’s proposed now is a lot different than what was originally approved,” said Bill Heicher, member of the Eagle County Planning Commission, which voted to recommend that the commissioners deny the project last month.

There was also discussion of housing some golf course employees in the bunkhouses, even though in original plans, developers had promised to house all employees at Adam’s Rib headquarters or Frost Creek, a luxury, gated community and golf course.

Adam’s Rib representatives argued that they are not trying to find a loophole, but that the additional buildings are necessary to run the center. “This is an agricultural facility and we need employees on site to take care of these animals,” said Adam’s Rib representative Bruce Gray.

Members of Eagle Valley Land Trust and county officials are also concerned that the center, access roads, and a bike path that is planned for the property will hurt the wildlife in the area.

The property includes “pristine wetlands,” that if not maintained, could “affect the condition of the entire ecosystem downstream,” said Cindy Cohagen of the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

County officials had asked for additional study of the wildlife impacts, but developers did not comply.

“The whole idea of this was to maintain the agricultural openness of the area. I think we’ve been very good stewards of this wonderful piece of land,” Fred Kummer said to commissioners in a January meeting.

Commissioner Sara Fisher said she saw the proposal as an attempt to circumvent the original requirements.

“It’s disconcerting that you didn’t address any of the concerns we had, but came back and asked for exactly the same thing,” she told Adam’s Rib representatives.

Adjoining property owner Chris Adams said he wants to see the project scaled down.

“We definitely don’t want to see another house there. It affects the neighbors and we don’t want it,” he said.

Brush Creek resident Rosie Sherwood said when the project was first approved, neighbors imagined something much smaller ” not a massive center with several homes on the site.

Others said they were worried about the traffic it would bring, and what the buildings would look like. Commissioners asked for building sketches and designs weeks ago, but none were given other than photos of other stables in a similar style as planned at the last hearing.

Neighboring property owner Bob McKenzie said that employee homes should be built in Frost Creek like originally planned, not on the equestrian facility.

“I don’t like the idea of gated communities trying to exclude people who maintain it. There’s room for housing in Frost Creek,” he said.

But the county needs another equestrian center, said Cregan Ortner, manager of the Cordillera Equestrian Center.

“We’re the last one in the valley, and a lot of people in this town have horses with no place to put them. My waiting lists are full,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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