Town Board OKs Eagle River Station plan
EAGLE, Colorado – There were no surprises Tuesday night when members of the Eagle Town Board formally approved the Eagle River Station development plan.
But it’s not the board who will make the final decision regarding the controversial commercial/residential plan, it is the residents of Eagle.
During the course of approving a number of findings, resolutions and ordinances related to the Eagle River Station proposal, the Town Board also scheduled a May 22 public referendum on the project. If voters again reject the plan, the Town Board’s decision is null and void.
Eagle River Station is a commercial/residential project proposed by Trinity RED Development on the eastern end of town, south of Interstate 70 and north of U.S. Highway 6. The 88-acre property would include 582,000 square feet of commercial space and 250 rental units in the first phase. The second phase calls for up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space and another 300 rental units.
This is the second incarnation of Eagle River Station. In January 2010, voters rejected the initial Eagle River Station plan and Trinity RED Development retooled its proposal and resubmitted the plan to the town. The new development plan has been the focus of Eagle Town Board hearings since October.
Each member of the Eagle Town Board voiced individual reasoning prior to the vote. Member Scott Turnipseed detailed how he believes the proposal conforms with the Eagle Area Community Plan, the East Eagle Urban Renewal Plan, the Town of Eagle Land Use and Development Code, the Eagle Open Lands Conservation Plan and the Eagle River Watershed Plan.
“I respect the opinions of people who think the project is too big or who generally don’t want to see a mall in Eagle, but it specifically says in the 2010 Eagle Area Community plan that regional retailing, ancillary resident development, civic and institutional facilities are recognized as appropriate uses on lands east of Chambers Avenue,” Turnipseed said.
Turnipseed also said the project makes financial sense for the community.
“It is my opinion that the town staff, town attorney and the paid town consultants have done an outstanding job in not only making sure the town of Eagle is not responsible for any of the financial risks of paying for the public or private improvements of this application, but also making sure the project has a legitimate opportunity to ultimately succeed,” Turnipseed said.
Town board member Scot Webster concurred with Turnipseed noting they both served on the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission during the adoption hearings for the Eagle Area Community Plan. He also cited the location and potential economic benefits of the project.
“I think it is in absolutely the perfect location to have the least amount of impact to the community,” said Webster.
“I believe ERS is a huge economic engine for the town,” he said.
He noted currently Eagle residents do much of their shopping outside of town, paying sales tax to Avon or Glenwood Springs. “I believe sales tax leakage has to stop.”
“I would never support anything that I thought would destroy Eagle or change its character,” said town board member Roxie Deane. “I have been a resident of this town of six decades and I love Eagle as much as anybody in this room.”
Deane said Eagle simply needs to expand its sales tax base if it is going to financially survive.
“Eagle has changed a lot over the past 10 to 15 years and anybody to has moved here or opened a business here in the last 10 to 15 years has changed the community,” she said. “We need to spend our money here.”
Members Mikel Kerst and Kraige Kinney both cited infrastructure benefits – including new water lines, roads and an Interstate 70 interchange – that are proposed as part of the Eagle River Station plan as they outlined their reasons for supporting the plan.
“Most communities would do everything in their power just to receive the revenues ERS will provide in one-time fee payments,” Kinney said.
Mayor Ed Woodland said he has always supported building capacity in Eagle – improving roads and adding trails and increasing business.
“I don’t see anything wrong with expanding our town boundary into the I-70 corridor,” said Woodland, noting that the area is an appropriate location for commercial uses not only because of the Eagle Area Community plan says so but also because it is already characterized by the presence of the interstate, U.S. Highway 6 and railroad tracks.
Woodland asked if the presence of ERS would truly ruin the town’s character. “Would you hunt less? Would you ski less? Would you ride bikes with your kids less?” he asked.
“The opportunities in this town are endless,” Woodland said. “The real risk to this town is doing nothing.”
Town board member Yuri Kostick was the sole dissenting vote on the Eagle River Station plan. He argued that the scope of the plan is simply too large for Eagle.
Kostick said the town has spent and inordinate amount of time reviewing Eagle River Station and that residents are confused about why the issue has returned when it was previously rejected. Kostick added that he was personally disappointed that the new Eagle River Station plan actually features more retail space than the plan the voters rejected.
“I believe, unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity,” Kostick said.
“I think its a great day for the community,” said RED Development partner Jeff McMahon following the Town Board vote. “Its step two of three. We know it’s going to a referendum and we look forward to a vote.”