A controversial property slated for dense residential development in the midvalley was recommended for upzoning in a 3-2 vote by the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission on Thursday.
The rezoning recommendation to Eagle County commissioners from Rural Residential to Residential Multi-Family allows The Fields development team to build as many as 135 homes on the 19.39-acre parcel.
Rural Residential only allows one residence per 2 acres, which would’ve limited the development team, led by Evan Schreiber, to build nine homes on the property located across from the Blue Lake subdivision and west of Crown Mountain Park off Highway 82.
“We can all probably envision what those nine houses mean, they are multimillion dollars, they’re probably not very well occupied and they don’t add a lot to this community and it’s a tough pill to swallow,” said commission chair Phillip Ring, who voted in favor of the rezoning, citing the need for housing in the valley.
He added that it was a difficult decision, especially given the density of the development in not a perfect location that jeopardizes the area’s rural character and exacerbates traffic issues along Valley Road.
“There is no absolute right answer,” he said.
Fellow board members JR Spung and Bob Andre voted in favor of recommending the rezoning, while their colleagues Karen Barch and Temple Glassier voted against, citing traffic, infrastructure and capacity concerns, among others.
“We need housing. We really, really need housing,” Glassier said. “But it is impossible for me to support any more development without the local counties and the local governments to say, ‘Timeout, we’re going to fix our infrastructure and make sure it supports what is coming.’”
Barch said it’s a battle between needing more housing versus concerns about a way of life locals have become accustomed to.
“I have trouble supporting the idea of this increased housing without there being more impact on the availability of affordable housing,” she said. “Twenty-seven units is a start and it’s a good start but to me it’s not enough to justify the change in the zoning and I am even more concerned about the infrastructure. It seems like we are putting the cart before the horse.”
Schreiber said The Fields is committed to putting significant money and engineering work into a new intersection to serve the area that is already plagued with traffic backups, but partners like Eagle County also have to contribute.
The development plan includes 27 price-capped units, along with 47 buildings: 28 single-family, nine duplexes, one triplex, four quads and five multi-family.
Spung said there are not many places left in the midvalley for dense development and this parcel is one of the last ones that is appropriate for what is being proposed.
“If it’s going to be anywhere it needs to be along Highway 82, it needs to have access to mass transit,” he said.
Andre said The Fields is one small step to address the valley’s housing crisis.
“The things I think that are attractive to me about this that from my standpoint, it’s in compliance with all of our standards, the county’s standards, our master plan standards and I like the attitude and the willingness to both trying to address the traffic issues and trying to address the ability to connect Crown Park,” he said.
Glassier and Barch said the proposal does not meet certain standards like infrastructure and services such as roads, as well as compatibility and intensity with the surrounding uses and properties, which are considerations the commissioners will take up when they review the combined sketch and preliminary plan for the subdivision in the future.