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Letters to the editor

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(I’ll try to handle it myself, as there was no press present at last Wednesday night’s Eagle County Planning Commission meeting).It can now factually be reported that Eagle County prefers gated, private golf course communities located as far as possible from an existing town, to development that is closer, with fewer dwellings, no gates, and with two public access trail heads and accessible bike paths.Before I go any further with this I want to express my deepest appreciation to the Eagle County Planning staff, especially Bob Narracci, for recommending denial of the Adam’s Rib Upper and Lower Ranch proposals on Brush Creek 3.5 miles south of Eagle. Also, John King and the Planning Commission did an awesome job of explaining why this plan earned a unanimous “indefinitely tabled” decision. They used our Master Plans and Land Use Regulations to consistently explain why this proposal failed to earn any degree of acceptance. They all did a commendable job and are to be applauded for turning down such a poorly conceived and misplaced proposal.So here comes the HOWEVER.As I sat listening to the proceedings, I began to get an increasingly uncomfortable feeling that this was all incredibly familiar, yet amazingly different. A little over a year ago I sat in the same room in total frustration with Staff’s and Commission’s very positive “findings” for the Adam’s Rib Frost Creek proposal. Wednesday, the Ranch proposal was put to exactly the same tests, but the difference in “findings” is stunning. It was soundly rejected for precisely every single reason that Frost Creek should have been! Why this reversal in vision? Why was the comparatively massive Frost Creek project given such a blaring green light just a year ago? Internal politics? Who knows. But here is a little background on each proposal, and some comparisons of the Eagle County Planning system’s conclusions to better illustrate the very welcome change in perspective.Frost Creek is under construction as a gated, private golf course community located up to 8 miles from the Town of Eagle, consisting of 98 single family homes of up to 12,500 square feet in size. There are to be 25 accessory units, not necessarily attached, associated with those homes. There will be 5 guest cottages on the golf course, and there will be a club house of up to 30,000 square feet with restaurants, bars, clubhouse retail, pro shop, health and athletic facilities and swimming pools. The Town of Eagle will supply water, but sewer will be handled by individual septics (perhaps more than 100) that may service more than one home. There will also be a golf maintenance facility on almost 4 acres of land close to Brush Creek Road.The Upper and Lower Ranch proposal is located 3.5 miles from town and consists of 114 homes, period. It has two trail heads for public use, and integrated bike paths. It also is a sprawling, poorly planned design smack in the middle of very important winter wildlife habitat, and it very much deserved the harsh criticism it received Wednesday night. The Commission and planning staff were absolutely right on in their rejection of the plan. Here’s the interesting part. Frost Creek was deemed consistent with the Eagle County Master Plan in environmental quality, open space/recreation, development, transportation (including use of Brush Creek Road as is), community services, and the future land use map. It failed only in affordable housing because there simply was none.The Ranch proposal, on the other hand, (bear in mind only 3.5 miles from town) failed the Eagle County Master Plan litmus in every category except open space! It was a repeat performance in testing compatibility with the Eagle area community plan. Frost Creek was listed as conforming to the plan’s standards for community size and character, open space, environment and sensitive areas, economic development, circulation and transportation, and future land use map.And guess what? The Ranch failed to comply in all areas except for mixed conformance in open space and circulation and transportation.But wait, there’s more. Frost Creek, a golf course 6-8 miles from town, was deemed compatible with the character of surrounding uses, but the Ranch was not. Frost Creek supposedly was “designed to avoid creating spatial patterns that cause inefficiencies in the delivery of public services…or create leapfrog development.” The Ranch, however, could be “considered leapfrog development due to the sizeable separation (3.5 miles) between the subject property and more densely developed areas within the Town of Eagle further down the Brush Creek Valley.” They were also told to explore underground electric lines, while Frost Creek is being allowed to simply put up bigger power lines on Brush Creek resident’s property.There’s so much more that I could fill a special column, but one of the final ironies was that the Ranch would be held to a phasing and cost estimate plan, while, you guessed it, none was required for Frost Creek. They can build as fast and furious as they want, never mind the impact on the residents of Brush Creek and their formerly quiet community.So what could have caused this incredible reversal of perspectives in our stately courthouse? I have my own personal opinions which I’ll keep to myself. But I can’t help but be so saddened that for whatever reason, upper Brush Creek and the beautiful meadows of Frost Creek had to become a sacrificial lamb. And again, thanks to the present Planning staff and Commission for their clear vision on Wednesday night.Rosie ShearwoodBrush CreekAnyway you chooseAlthough I have a problem (personally) sipping beer from a brandy snifter, as a member of the Beer Church, I have no problem with my fellow communicates sipping (or slurping) their beers from any vessel they choose. Beer is all about inclusion. If they choose to sip a brewski from an old Army boot, I’ll raise my mug to that. Cheers! Alex Walker LeadvilleVail, Colorado


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