Vail Valley Voices: Eagle needs fair process
May 19, 2012
We, as a group of concerned residents, citizens and business owners in Eagle, offer an abbreviated chronology of just a few eyebrow-raising events associated with Eagle River Station and the public process in general.
We believe the facts speak for themselves. We urge you to learn more about ERS at http://www.yestoeagle.com, pull the public record at Town Hall and then vote “no” – again – on Tuesday.
1. The ERS land was designated as “blighted” in order to create an urban-renewal authority for ERS to utilize tax increment financing, and that land got zoned for commercial before there were any approvals. Ed Sands, town attorney, admitted that this was “very unusual, but legal.”
2. Eagle’s master plan. The chairperson (Roxie Deane) for the first year of the plan’s revision set the rules of engagement for committee members – no one was to talk about future land use in east Eagle. It was the elephant in the room that should have nullified the eventual adoption of the plan as it relates to east Eagle. Unlike Rick Newman (Haymeadow’s developer), RED (even when asked to wait) pushed ERS 1.0 through the process while the Eagle Area Community Plan was being finished, thus creating the elephant and making any attempt to objectively gather and incorporate citizen input into the East Eagle Character Area impossible. Most citizens, via surveys and public meetings, wanted to see west Eagle expand, not east Eagle. The process was tainted.
3. There was a public vote on ERS in 2010, resulting in a “no” vote, followed by no action by the previous Town Board to bring the community together. Four small public meetings were held and were scripted and sponsored by RED, following which the project came back larger even though most wanted it smaller. RED did not listen, and the trustees shirked their responsibility of being leaders by allowing the developer to lead the process in ERS 2.0.
4. ERS 2.0 came back in the summer of 2011. The town attorney instructed all members to vote only how the project conforms to the updated Eagle Area Community Plan, not based on personal opinion or financials. Several had concerns that it didn’t conform 100 percent. It was never made clear as to how the “point value of conformity” is defined, and Jim Jose was one of several commissioners who stated although ERS conformed to about 75 percent of the EACP, the other 25 percent presented serious concerns. In the end, even though there were concerns by a few members, they felt compelled to vote “yes.”
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5. Citizens submitted several pages of various “procedural errors” the town engaged in since ERS 2.0 (at both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the trustee level). There has been no response to date.
6. The former mayor acknowledged talking with City Market months ago, but didn’t make the conversation public knowledge until he was no longer in office, and just weeks before the ERS election. Joel Starbuck, executive with Kroger, came to Town Hall last Tuesday (per current Mayor Kostick’s invitation) and announced that City Market has absolutely no intention of moving the Eagle store to Gypsum and that they are staying regardless of the vote on Tuesday. They did say they would like to expand in the future.
It was in that meeting that Trustee Webster and Mayor Pro Tem Turnipseed, in a carefully orchestrated questioning session, created more doubt that City Market would stay by asking if they would sign a letter saying that they would never leave. Even after Mr. Starbuck’s announcement, these past and present trustees, along with RED, are still casting doubt about them staying. Go to the video at http://www.yestoeagle.com.
7. The majority of trustees and a member of the press have been observed gathering together following town meetings, which seems to violate sunshine laws and very disparaging remarks about citizens and other trustees have been overheard. Even people’s jobs have been threatened as of late. Scare tactics and bullying should be totally unacceptable to all voters. Check out brandion
8. Thank you to the voters of Eagle (and the numerous thousands of citizens that live in and around Eagle) for wanting the public process (irrespective of ERS) to be 100 percent fair, honest and one in which we can rely on and respect our leaders to follow the rules, the law and for using proper procedures. In turn, we ask for and deserve their respect for our varying opinions.
That after all, is democracy – especially in a small town.
Citizens for the Future of Eagle is a citizens group opposed to Eagle River Station.