The 16,000 home question |

The 16,000 home question

Special to the DailyThis map shows where the growth in Eagle County will manifest itself.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Commissioner Peter Runyon warns that 16,000 homes could be built in the county tomorrow even if the commissioners never approved another construction project.

That number ” 16,000 ” seems shocking to some. It may help Runyon’s campaign to slow growth in Eagle County, an idea that also has gotten some support from Commissioner Arn Menconi. The number isn’t necessarily inaccurate, either. But there’s a larger story behind it.

Runyon is using the county planning department’s latest estimate for how much more the county might grow, a study the department completed at the end of last year.

In that study, the department noted how many homes the commissioners have already approved to build. That number ” 2,947 ” includes the Miller Ranch neighborhood in Edwards, as well as several of the homes being built in the exclusive Red Sky Ranch development near Wolcott.

The towns add another 8,740 homes to the total with projects like the Village at Avon, where home development is in its infancy, as well as Eagle Ranch in Eagle. In total, there are 11,687 homes that have been approved to be built in Eagle County. Because the study was completed in 2004, several of the homes already have been built by now.

Then, planning officials tried to guess how many more might be built in the future, said Cliff Simonton, the county’s senior planner. The number the department came up for that ” 4,230 ” is made up of a few things.

Most of the property left to develop is in rural Eagle County and has been identified ” or “zoned” ” what’s called “resource.” Land identified as resource is typically rural ranchland.

Under Colorado law, owners of resource land are allowed to build a home for every 35 acres of property. No county approval is required. If every ranch owner took advantage of that law, it would add another 4,230 homes to the county.

Add that number to the number of homes that have been approved, plus what’s been approved to be built in the towns, and you come up with 15,917 ” in essence, the 16,000 homes Runyon is talking about.

Simonton emphasizes that their numbers are only a best guess, and they are constantly changing.

Perhaps the biggest factor in how many homes will be built in the future are the policymakers who approve or deny projects ” the commissioners, those we have now and those we will have in the future.

Vail Colorado

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