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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

Lock-offs would

be great

“The mad Traer Creek machine” is neither mad nor is it a machine. Some would have you believe this. However, they are missing the bigger issue.

The issue is affordable housing. Arguments against increasing density are intended to scare you off of the bigger picture. The citizens of Avon and Eagle County have a chance to change the paradigm of affordable housing into attainable housing.

We have a chance to demonstrate that affordable housing doesn’t need to come in the form of large, faceless apartment buildings. We have the chance to join other communities through the Rocky Mountains and rediscover what great cities like Boston, Chicago and New York City discovered long ago: neighborhoods.

Leaders in Avon, along with a concerned valley citizen, would have you believe that the only options for affordable housing are units like the beautiful new buildings overlooking the valley above I-70. I think most of us wouldn’t consider those buildings beautiful or a desirable place to live.

Traer Creek has proposed building “accessory units” (lock-offs) above homeowners’ garages, and proposed to build these as alternatives to affordable housing requirements.

Ms. Underwood insinuates that Traer Creek is greedily trying to add more dwelling units than the 2,400 their agreement currently allows, and ignores the bigger picture, how most of us live.

A lock-off unit above someone’s garage does increase density. Fear ye not of Hong Kong style apartment buildings towering 40 stories into the air. Breaking up affordable housing units into lock-off style apartments will give people (you and I) the chance to break free from “affordable” housing units like those that you find on the north side of I-70, Sunridge and just about every other apartment complex built in this valley. Instead it gives people like you and I the chance to move into a neighborhood with some space of our own.

First-time homeowners have an increased chance of qualifying for a mortgage, with the benefit of rental income; 75 percent of rental income may be added towards your gross income. Housing is no longer considered affordable; it becomes attainable.

The economics of lock-off style apartments make sense for everyone, as they encourage and foster a sense of community. You may find similar styles of housing in places like Telluride, Crested Butte, even Aspen. Take some time to check out a book entitled the “Geography of Nowhere.” Written in 1994, the author argues that increasing density in residential areas actually fosters community and neighborhood development.

The author makes compelling arguments against creating communities like Highlands Ranch. Highlands Ranch is that wonderful suburb sprawling south of Denver with reduced density and ordinances forbidding on-street parking, essentially creating an empty wasteland. Read the papers, neighbors in Highlands Ranch love each other so much they are suing one another.

Avoiding another Highlands Ranch project is a success in my book!

Consider that the proposals for density increases are similar to those already approved in Eagle Ranch, and slightly less than Miller Ranch. Eagle Ranch is hardly an urban area.

The density in RMF 1 (the area under most scrutiny) is far from excessive and additional units such as lock-offs are desirable. For an excellent example, head into Eagle-Vail and look at a home with beautiful prairie style architecture that has a lock-off apartment above the garage. I don’t know the exact address, but it is near Gopher Road. You can’t miss it! Wouldn’t you rather live there with some space of your own instead of the towers above I-70?

Adding lock-off style apartments above garages is not going to turn Avon into Los Angeles. It will do exactly the opposite.

Lock-off apartments may not benefit someone whose family has made their money selling off land in the Vail Valley, but it will benefit people like you and me. It gives us the chance to avoid moving to the towers above I-70 and into a neighborhood.

Most of all, it gives most of us a chance to live in something other than a cardboard box with paper thin walls, as most “affordable” housing units are constructed. It is time this valley considered alternatives to affordable housing that doesn’t lie in a 100-year flood plain (Brett Ranch) and isn’t located 100 feet off of an interstate (the towers above I-70) simply because “affordable” housing can’t be considered from a different point of view.

Adding a bit of density would bring us closer together and allow us the chance to live in a community instead of forcing us onto interstates or into floodplains. Encourage your leadership to think outside the box, not build more of them!

Eric Johnson

Avon

Village at Avon worries

I am writing to express my opinion on the second reading to amend the Development Plan and PUD guide for the Village at Avon. I was pleased to see several non-Avon residents at the meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 23. I encourage you to mark your calendars for Tuesday, Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m. This is an amendment that affects many Eagle County residents. The developer is currently requesting a zoning revision that relocates commercial space, housing, and an elementary school and park space.

I have voiced my opinion at several public hearings over the past six years with regards to the development. I am a proponent of growth and development, and I appreciate the work that Traer Creek and the Town Council have done. I think that the plan has progressed in a fashion that will improve the county by bringing a variety of housing, recreation, open space and businesses to the upper end of the county. Perhaps the Town of Vail can sell Traer Creek their “bubble.”

In 2001 when questioned about the lighting impacts and appearance of the yet to be named big boxes, Traer Creek representatives made references to the Outback Steakhouse sign and the general appearance of Chapel Square and stated that they would not make the same mistakes. In my opinion they have. They stated that they had the upper hand with the retailers and the appearance and color schemes of the big boxes and that they would be different than what we were expecting. They are not. I am fortunate that my neighbor’s house blocks the glare of the lights at night. There are many residents that are not so fortunate. If you are affected, this may interest you.

I would like them to consider the zoning at the new I-70 exchange to be revised to allow for restaurants, gas stations and other commercial uses, but not to permit the building of lodging facilities. I believe that the placement of lodging at that intersection would be a mistake. The placement of lodging at that exit will create the appearance of another “village” from I-70 and the tourists’ perspective. It would further draw revenues from the Avon Town core and create a burden for either transportation or parking that the town currently would not experience. This location would dictate a low budget interstate view hotel with a neon sign.

The amendment to move the school to the east end of the project in a new residential area may be a good idea, but it may not. The school board and county community should be heard on this issue. This location is linked to a Forest Service easement for a road. This location is adjacent to the railroad tracks and that line has not yet been abandoned and it is still included in proposed public transportation plans to decrease the volume of traffic on I-70.

I appreciate the decision of the Avon Town Council to table this amendment until the school location and Forest Service easement are finalized. It is my opinion that the agreement with the Forest Service and with the school board needs to be fully resolved before this amendment can be approved.

If you are impacted in any way by these issues, please plan to attend the next Avon Town Council meeting, or any other public meeting that address these issues.

I know I have exceeded the RCRLL (Richard Carnes Recommended Letter Length) by 300 words. However, I believe I have conformed to all other recommendations.

Amy C. Phillips

Another illegal

I listened to the news of the man wanting to kill our local girl in a “murder for hire” plot involving Kobe Bryant. All I can say is, poor girl and lucky Colorado taxpayers. Lucky taxpayers, because if this Illegal Swiss immigrant had been arrested in Colorado, the taxpayers would be footing the bill for his arrest and jail sentence. -He is one more example of our lax border enforcement, exactly like the 9-11 terrorists. I will venture a guess that our Eagle County girl and her family would have liked our homeland security to have enforced our immigration laws, just as the 9-11 families wish that our homeland security had actually done something. Start speaking up. That seems to work well for the immigrant rights organizations. Contact http://www.numbersusa.com/ or call Congress toll-free at 1-800-648-3516 and get mad.

Our government needs to stop protecting these people who are here illegally and start protecting our American citizens. After all, this is our country and our children.

Marty Lich

Gypsum


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