Pro-growth group launched in Eagle |

Pro-growth group launched in Eagle

Pam Boyd & Kathy HeicherVail, CO Colorado

EAGLE Citizens opposing the Eagle River Station project in Eagle have been organized and vocal for some time now. Here comes the other side.Acting on the premise that growth will help Eagle, a pair of Eagle Ranch residents have formed a community group for like-minded citizens.Jay Willoughby and Fred Schmidt launched their Eye on Eagle group with the first of what they promise will be a series of columns in this weeks Eagle Valley Enterprise. To date, Eye on Eagle exists only in cyberspace pair has a list of e-mail addresses and has begun contacting other residents. My position is that there is going to be retail development in and around Eagle, said Willoughby. I believe it will be better for Eagle in the long run if that development happens within the towns boundaries. We need a more consistent, dependable revenue stream.

Willoughby describes himself as a corporate vagabond who has moved more than 20 times and lived around the United States as well as in three foreign countries. Eighteen months ago, he moved to Eagle Ranch with his family, which includes two elementary-age children. He is a partner in a Dallas-based restaurant management firm, Apex Restaurants.We love Eagle. We love Eagle Ranch, and I dont want to move any more, Willoughby said.Schmidt is a retired industrial arts teacher who also operated a woodworking business. He came to Eagle County two years ago after living in Long Island, N.Y., and Florida. Schmidt also lived in Fort Collins for a time. He and his wife moved to their Eagle Ranch home six months ago.The biggest thing for me was I saw an incredible potential here, said Schmidt. I liked Eagle because it was a small-town feel.Neither man has ties to the developers of the Eagle River Station.Eagle River Station happens to be the hot topic at the moment but I wouldnt want people to think we are forming this citizens group just because of Eagle River Station, said Willoughby. Its really about people who have more of an understanding that growth is coming.Willoughby believes that if Eagle aggressively tries to limit growth, the end result will be the destruction of the community as it exists today because property values will exponentially inflate. I would just hate to see Eagle turn into a second-home community where people are flipping houses for real estate values, he said. Eagle is a lot more interesting community because it isnt just a bunch of wealthy second-home owners.Schmidt hopes Eagle can mirror the Fort Collins model in future development where national retailers have a presence but an Old Town specialty district also thrives. I think we have the responsibility as the county seat of government to do better in what we present. Id rather feel very proud about what people see, Schmidt said. I think Eagle can do and look better and cast a better image to travelers to say Come in here and spend your money.In their initial column, the pair cite the Arvada urban renewal effort as a possible model for Eagle and they urge local residents to get involved with the Eagle Area Community Plan Update and Eagle River Station review processes.We have an extensive list of people and e-mails and we are starting to communicate with them, said Willoughby. We are just trying to get information out that is fact-based, because we can all get very emotional about this.

Citing concerns about density, open space and compliance with the growth policies, an Eagle advisory commission voted 4-2 Tuesday to recommend the town reject the Eagle River Station shopping center.Its the same old, same old, anywhere-USA strip mall, Planning Commission Member Darryl Lundholm said of the proposal that includes homes and hotel rooms. Noting that the Planning Commission had also rejected the project in October, developer Vince Riggio indicated he wasnt surprised by the vote. The commercial project located on 100 acres east of Chambers Avenue, which would include large, regional retail stores has attracted opposition.Were just looking forward to being in front of the Town Board, he said after the meeting. That board will likely start its review of the project on April 24.Town staffers had recommened the planning commission endorse the project though they had some concerns about the projects size. Eagle resident Lori Russell agreed with the commissions decision. This project is way out of scale. It is too big, too dense, too many acres developed, the height standards are too much, and it lacks a wildlife corridor, said Eagle resident Lori Russell.But Willoughby said Eagle is losing tax dollars, and its revenue base.We need Eagle River Station. We need the sales tax revenues, he said. If we dont approve it, the revenues go elsewhere, and were still impacted.

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