Hey, Eagle County: Tree Farm plan comes up woefully short
May 19, 2017
Dear Jill, Kathy, and Jeanne:
First and foremost, I wish to recognize your service as Eagle County commissioners. Your commitment and dedication as stewards of our little neck of the woods plays a critical role in the protection of our unique lands and our desired quality of life, for today and tomorrow.
I have never challenged a proposed development project in my 38 years as a resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, and in fact, I have been engaged and active on dozens of such applications and submissions throughout the valley as well as regionally and globally. I understand the intricacies of project real estate development with over 25 years of professional involvement.
With that as my historical basis, when this submission is reviewed based on smart growth land use principles and conformance with the 24 conditions of approval of the sketch plan, the current Tree Farm submission comes up short in almost every critical element. Woefully short.
I currently serve as an executive committee member of the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, but I am not speaking for the chamber here, as this is a personal outreach. I mention my role with the chamber only to provide a contextual position as I understand the importance of smart growth and its positive impacts on sustainable community economic development, of which I am a proponent. This application does not reflect smart growth.
When one reviews the Eagle County Economic Overview on the Eagle County website, it states the following about the Eagle County geographical territory: Vail Valley Economic Development primarily focuses on its efforts on the communities that lie within the Vail Valley trade area, located along the Interstate 70 corridor, from Dotsero to Vail. El Jebel and Basalt are also major Eagle County population centers, but they are geographically disconnected from much of the rest of the county and are more heavily influenced by economic activities in the Roaring Fork Valley trade area.
Within Eagle County's own economic development position, it is recognized that the Eagle County communities in the Roaring Fork Valley are more heavily influenced by economic activities in the Roaring Fork VAlley trade area. I am a resident of Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley, and I love that the county distinguishes between the "here and there" of its territory. I also think that is precisely why the town of Basalt, Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission in a unanimous vote, and throngs of deep rooted-residents of the valley have recommended denial of this preliminary plan. This plan is just not the right fit for this place. Period.
The Tree Farm parcel is an exceptional piece of land and deserves an exemplary, enlightened development plan. Please send this applicant back to the drawing board as they are a talented group of creative and responsible professionals with strong financial support and powerful resources. Collectively, they must know they should, and can, do better. Much, much better.
R.J. Gallagher Jr.
Eagle County (unincorporated Basalt)