Letter: Eagle Co. housing editorial was off-base | VailDaily.com

Letter: Eagle Co. housing editorial was off-base

Keith Montag, director of community development
Vail CO, Colorado

Scott Miller’s recent editorial, “Eagle County growth pressure overstated”, infers that county growth projections are dishonest and inflated. My department was responsible for that careful and time consuming analysis, and we continue to stand by the results of the study, which indicates that approximately 14,000 new dwelling units could be built in Eagle County (both incorporated and unincorporated areas) without additional land use approvals.

As with any forward-looking analysis, reasonable assumptions had to be made. For example: all vacant, residentially zoned parcels of 69 acres or less were assigned a potential of one dwelling unit. The remaining parcels greater than or equal to 70 acres in size were assigned one unit for every 35 acres. Each town submitted their own projections and all calculations were verified by visually comparing the projections with assessors data and aerial photos. This was done to detect and correct any mathematical anomalies that may have occurred and to ensure the most accurate projections possible.

Mr. Miller states that the analysis did not take into account “how many acres of land are vertical, or lie in streambeds.” Unfortunately, Mr. Miller obviously did not read the report, nor did he contact officials at the county to confirm his belief. In fact, the projections specifically took that into account, excluding lands steeper than 30 percent, and lands that lie in a flood plain.

To the degree that the report might have overestimated the number of 35-acre lots that might one day be developed in Eagle County, it has already significantly underestimated lots created by recent municipal annexations and other up-zonings. This was anticipated as part of the analysis. As an example, Stratton Flats in Gypsum, the Hay Meadow and Eagle River Station in Eagle, the West End in Edwards and the Ginn project south of Minturn were not on the horizon at the time.

As the county and towns work to update the dwelling unit analysis this spring, we anticipate finding that the original estimate of 14,000 potential units will prove a very conservative estimate, indeed.

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