Letter: Eagle should be different
Eagle CO, Colorado
I attended the Eagle planning and zoning hearing Wednesday, April 17. The file before the board was, yet again, a different application from the developers of Eagle River Station Development. If I were in any way associated with that organization, I would be terribly embarrassed and questioning the integrity of the company ” big
time! They have reduced their center by a half a Costco store, yet think they have “listened” to the community. Listened, maybe. Really hearing ” not!
They made several points in favor of their project that held water like a sieve! There were several discrepancies that were very apparent to me.
1. They intimated that the height of the buildings were no longer 65 feet. They said they are now 45 feet. But, that measure is at the soffet. My understanding is at the center ridge of the hip or gable roof, it is still actually at 65 ft and there are still four-story buildings. Our codes only allow three-story buildings, like the one going up downtown.
2. They were tooting their horn about all the open space requirements they have exceeded. Well, yeah, if you want to include cement sidewalks and benches in the lifestyle shopping area and trees and shrubs planted in the parking lots! I’m sorry, but open space is “open space.” You know, green grass; a place where you can lay down and stretch your legs with a few other folks. Also, there is no wildlife corridor. This has been brought up, time and time again, at the meetings.
3. They have said all along that Eagle River Station would not be in competition with downtown Eagle or other local business districts, that they would “complement our existing town.” Yet, they explained that the larger box stores and junior boxes are right by the interchange so that shoppers could slip on and off I-70 easily. They basically admitted that shoppers have no need to go anywhere else in town. And, they touted in the beginning that they would have a trolley that would run people between Eagle River Station, Eagle Ranch and downtown. Now that component isn’t even part of the proposal. Also, these larger stores are on the far eastern end of the project, with the housing component next to the edge of town, that is presently commercial. This is hardly “transitioning to rural” as called for in the 1996 Eagle Area Community Plan.
4. Also, along the competition line: There was the question by planning and zoning commissioner Daryll Lundholm, “What is a lifestyle center, anyway?” Their answer described downtown Eagle to a T ” retail, office, housing, restaurants, trees and open walking areas. Since this was a land-use hearing, there was no mention of the thousands of employees needed ” who don’t exist ” or the fact that the national economy is in the pits with hundreds of name stores declaring bankruptcy weekly. If nothing else, the project should be denied because of these two factors, alone!
5. The icing on the cake was the statement that they had built a “successful” lifestyle center in Middleton, Wisc. a few years ago, and now their downtown is thriving. They made it sound like the lifestyle center was the reason why it’s thriving. What they left out, that eventually was uncovered, is in fact, Middleton, Wisc. is not only a town of 17,000-plus people but it’s actually a suburb of Madison, Wisc. ” a town of 250,000-plus and the second largest city in Wisconsin! This is hardly a fitting analogy to our small town!
Trinity RED’s discrepancies and half-truths made me wonder, “Do these developers who come from a major city think they’re really slick or do they have the audacity to think we’re really stupid?” Shame on you guys!
On top of all this, think about this: If we get a massive shopping center at the gateway to Eagle, we’re going to look like every other town in America that has mall after lifestyle center after mall after lifestyle center at their gateway.
I say, let’s dare to be different! Let’s support the five business districts we have and get them full and flourishing. Then, and only then should we consider 555,800-plus square feet of competing retail in this beautiful town we call home.