New-subdivision ban may end a little early
EAGLE “This may be the ban no one really noticed.
The Eagle County Commissioners last fall passed a ban on new subdivisions. That means a property owner can’t get approval to put more homes than are already allowed on a piece of land.
When they voted for the ban last fall, commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon said the move was needed to allow the county to make a series of changes to its land-use regulations.
A lot of work still has to be done on those changes, but the main one, about how to change the legal use of a piece of property ” known as a zoning change ” is done.
People who want to change use of a piece of land now have to provide more information about the change when they apply.
The new rules also more clearly define what constitutes a “compatible” use with surrounding property. Developers and land owners must also provide “public benefits” such as affordable housing or recreation before they can get a zoning change.
For instance, if someone wanted to build a new set of townhomes on land that had been zoned for single family homes in Edwards, the developer would have to prove the change would be consistent with the other homes in the neighborhood. The developer would also have to provide some sort of public benefit to get the change, such as a bus stop, trail, park or affordable housing.
“The key to it was the zone change criteria,” said Keith Montag, head of the county’s planning department. “Now that we have them, the board may want to consider lifting it.”
Runyon, who ran for office in 2004 on a platform of controlling growth, said the new rules might be enough to lift the ban a little early. “It’s a distinct possibility,” Runyon said.
What the new rule does is define just what a land owner or developer has to do to get a change in use approved.
From what one local planner has seen, the changes make sense.
“I saw an earlier version and it seemed reasonable,” said Tom Boni of Knight Planning Services in Eagle. “It’s a clarification of an approach the commissioners have taken for some time now.”
Boni is working for 84 Lumber, a national company that applied for an exemption to the ban shortly after it was passed. The company has a contract to buy land at Dotsero and needs a zoning change to build a store and lumber yard there.
The commissioners turned down that request but 84 Lumber has continued through other parts of the county approval process.
“It hasn’t really slowed us down,” Boni said of the current ban.
The county granted only one exemption ” to a Red Cliff home owner.
The county’s planning department is handling about as many development applications as it did this time last year, and local land planners say they haven’t heard of any developers, land owners or potential buyers who have been slowed down or stopped by the subdivision ban.
But Runyon said the ban has been worth the effort and publicity.
“I think everybody is more aware of growth,” he said. “The message is getting out that we have to do something.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado
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