Town should play fair
The May 8 Eagle Town Board of Trustees meeting set the tone for what will undoubtedly be a long, painful process regarding Eagle River Station.When the mayor was asked why there were sign-in sheets for residents and nonresidents, he said were letting voters speak first. Eagle River Station proponents are now reveling in the fact that most people who spoke out against the project were nonresidents. I have been labeled a vocal opponent who is a nonresident although Ive lived in Kaibab and own a retail business on Broadway-paying TRIPLE property taxes there. I donate to numerous causes and add sales tax to the town coffers. But now am being told that my voice has less merit than a voting resident.We nonresidents live in Eagle, pay taxes, pay for municipal water, have Eagle area addresses/phone numbers and shop, work and play here. Ironically, most nonresidents would be far more impacted by Eagle River Station than those living in the resident areas. Most of us actually have that land in our direct view. We take great exception to this new tactic, which seems to be meant to intimidate us nonresident opponents. With these actions, the town, along with Eagle River Stations proponents, prove to be the ones dividing this town. We are all citizens of Eagle and will be greatly affected by this project in one way or another. If our voices truly dont count, then perhaps we nonresidents should withhold our local taxes … some of which go to pay the town staff, mayor, trustees and town manager.The emergency amendment was another debacle. The town has been operating under a code glitch for 10 years and it wasnt until we presented it as an error several months ago that the town even acknowledged it was an error. Essentially it made it impossible for the Town Board of Trustees to approve a project that the Planning and Zoning Commission, which reviews the project first, has opposed. More typically, ordinances become effective 30 days after publication in the local newspaper. In Kathy Heichers recent editorial she pointed out that the regulation change was legit, but emergency justification was bogus and the Eagle board was caught using smoke and mirrors. Although Mayor Stavney tried to put it off as a housecleaning issue and a regulation for sexually oriented businesses was attached (although no such business has ever submitted an application before) this maneuver was indeed special legislation passed for this particular developer. They changed the rules in the middle of the game. The only emergency is that Eagle River Station has a timeline and 30 days puts them farther back in the process, which doesnt look favorable to their prospective tenants. Trustee Ed Woodland was honest he said he wants Eagle River Station to move on. Several hearings last fall exemplified other unusual circumstances they voted to annex the property and approved the formation of a metro district without a planned unit development file on the table. Even the town attorney said they had never done this before. Although more proponents spoke May 8, many had never even been to a meeting before. Plus, many folks had left public comment didnt even start until 11 p.m.! We all thought the town would in good conscience amend the code through the normal process not in the middle of an open application. We all knew it would be a yes vote for the conceptual plan at some point to see what the project really is, but none of us expected a vote that evening. The trustees and mayor expressed many of the same concerns we have overall density, several noncompliances within the community plan, the effect on Eagles small-town character and overall economic feasibility.These were the very same concerns the Planning and Zoning Commission had when they denied the project (even though the mayor stated he wants to disband the P & Z for dereliction of duty.) Every citizen of Eagle should be part of this next process and actually demand to see all the necessary impact studies hashed out in great detail. This will achieve a real and valid perspective on whether the project should be approved or not. Eagles near and far future depends on determining facts from fiction.Jan Rosenthal Townsend is an Eagle area resident and business owner.
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