Vail Daily letter: County needs to quit buying private land
Recently, there was an article in the Vail Daily about an Eagle Valley Land Trust event (“Celebrate our land, legacy,” Sunday, April 23). The article begins this way, “Did you know that nearly three acres of natural land are lost to development each day in Eagle County and that the county population is on track to double in 40 years?”
Then there is the article in the Vail Daily that details the purchase of the Hardscrabble Ranch to the tune of $16 million dollars, most of which is from public funds given by taxpayers, not private funds (“Hardscrabble open space project approved,” Wednesday, May 10).
All of this is to provide “open space” in Eagle County. Maybe we need to get a bigger picture of things.
First, we must establish a base. According to the county’s website, Eagle County is composed of 1,694 square miles. Multiply that by 640 (number of acres in a square mile), and you come up with 1,084,160 acres in Eagle County.
According to the county, 84 percent of those acres belong to the following: National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, State Land Board, Department of Wildlife, Colorado Department of Transportation, Eagle County School District and local government.
This leaves only 16 percent of Eagle County that is private land. Public land — land that will conceivably not ever be developed — comprises 84 percent of Eagle County. That is 910,694.4 acres of the 1,084,160 acres. Private land comprises 173,465.6 acres of all the land in Eagle County.
There are only 173,465.6 acres of land that can be developed. No new land is being added to Eagle County. If we use the 3-acre per day figure given by the Eagle Valley Land Trust and we multiply that by 365, we come up with 1,095 acres per year that is being “lost.” It would take 158 years for all of the private land in Eagle County to be “lost” if someone purchased 3 acres every day for a year.
How many homes will Eagle County allow you to build on 3 acres of land? And how much of that land is available to build on?
Because we are buying private land, we are turning taxable land into nontaxable land. If there is less land to tax, where will the burden of the property taxes fall? You guessed it, on those of us who happen to own private land in Eagle County.
Also, as more private land is not available for sale, what happens to the land that is available? It becomes even more expensive, which makes purchasing land or a home more difficult. Buying land and building homes are not crimes or bad things. They can bring stability and community involvement. In a republic, we do have the right to own land.
My answer to these concerns: Quit buying private land for open space and enjoy the 84 percent of open land in Eagle County. Allow land prices to even out and come down enough to be affordable, and don’t overtax those of us who do own land.
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