Horse center near Eagle takes big step |

Horse center near Eagle takes big step

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE ” Horse owners still do not have a new equestrian center near Eagle, but they are one step closer.

After much wrangling with representatives from Adam’s Rib Ranch, county commissioners approved a plan to build an equestrian center at Salt Creek ” but only under a long list of conditions.

County Commissioners wanted to see more of the land ” mostly wetlands and home to sensitive wildlife ” dedicated as open space and available for public use. They also wanted to restrict the size of a single-family home the developer wants to build on the property, and make sure the project causes minimal disturbance to neighboring residents.

Adam’s Rib developer Fred Kummer has planned to build the equestrian center on 520 acres south of Eagle since 2004, but the project was stalled and discussion was tabled several times.

Neighbors opposed the project, commissioners felt the developers were asking to build more on the land than originally agreed upon, and conservationists worried the development would hurt the surrounding wetlands.

This week developers had made several changes to the plan, but residents and county officials still were not happy with it.

“The last time we met on this, this (project) almost went dead. Now we’re still arguing over minor details,” County Commissioner Arn Menconi said.

The proposed project includes an indoor arena, a single-family home, a ranch manager’s home and about a mile of pedestrian and bike path.

Developers reduced the size of the project, scaling down the land for the single-family home near the center from 38 acres to 12 acres. The arena building was also downsized.

Originally developers wanted to build two employee bunkhouses on the premises, but now the housing is included inside the arena building. The pedestrian and bike paths and access roads for the center have also been re-aligned to protect the surrounding wetlands.

Many neighbors were concerned that the arena would be too big, and others wanted to see what the center would look like. Developers finally provided architectural sketches of the center on Tuesday.

“We believe the natural vegetation, architectural detailing and coloring, and final landscaping will reduce the visual impact of the arena,” said project manager Bruce Gray

Salt Creek resident Rosie Shearwood said the new proposal was far better than what was previously proposed, but she still worried about the traffic and new roads that would come with the project.

“We’re willing to work with the neighbors if necessary (and move the roads),” said Gray.

Commissioners and members of the Eagle Valley Land Trust were concerned that not enough was being done to protect the surrounding land.

The developer had set aside pockets of land on the parcel that were “restricted” or fenced off, but Land Trust Director Cindy Cohagen said she wanted to see some permanent and formal protection of the land.

Another stipulation of the deal is that almost 450 acres of the property become a conservation easement, meaning the developer agrees to never develop the land in exchange for tax benefits.

“I’d like to see more public access and not yet another gated road,” Menconi said. “I want to see public open space area that anyone can enjoy.”

The board also took issue with the free-market, single-family home, which Kummer wanted to build as big as 10,000 square feet.

Commissioner Peter Runyon questioned if the extra home was allowed in the original land agreement, calling it a “target of opportunity.” The board asked Kummer to restrict the home to 7,000 square feet and scale down the size of the lot.

Adam’s Rib representatives will work with county planners to finalize the conditions before the project gets final approval.

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