Wolcott plan creates conundrum for commissioners | VailDaily.com

Wolcott plan creates conundrum for commissioners

EAGLE, Colorado – The proposed community in Wolcott is either a plan for Eagle County’s future or it could be a bridge too far, the county commissioners said Tuesday.

In their latest meeting with the Eagle County commissioners, the project’s developers said now is the time to stop piece-mealing development and plan the county’s future.

Their plan would create 1,600 jobs while building and staffing the planned community along the Eagle River. More than 800 of those jobs would remain after the 689 homes and 175,000 square feet of commercial space are built, said local developer Rick Hermes, whose Community Concepts Colorado is spearheading the project on 373 acres.

“We should not wait to see what happens in places like Traer Creek while people are looking for jobs,” Hermes said.

The community creates “infill on a relatively level site well suited to a master planned community,” Hermes said.

It also creates a conundrum for the county commissioners, because it would create more housing in an already-glutted market.

Commissioner Peter Runyon pointed out that Cordillera was already slumping before the economic downturn. He wondered if the Wolcott community was too much.

“Is this a bridge too far?”” Runyon asked. “What do we want our county to look like? We’re already approving projects that, 20 years ago, we’d be asking ‘What are you talking about?'”

Commissioner Sara Fisher wondered about the local housing market’s ability to absorb more new homes.

“We’re never going to grow at the rate we were growing,” Fisher said, pointing to data from the state demographers office.

“It should not be bad to have competition in a marketplace,” Hermes said.

On the other hand, community master plans do not and should not consider market forces, said Commissioner Jon Stavney. A project either fits within an area’s master plan, or it doesn’t, Stavney said.

Most of the homes will be around 2,000 square feet and, so far, are proposed to be moderately priced, according to the plan. Wolcott would be home to around 2,000 people.

Wolcott would not be an incorporated community, but would fall under Eagle County’s jurisdiction, like Edwards.

Fisher said that this is how we ended up with Edwards, but that’s not how it went, said assistant county attorney Bob Morris. Edwards started without a master plan, Morris said. The Wolcott proposal does not.

The commissioners have not scheduled a vote on the proposal.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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