98-home project proposed in El Jebel area
The Aspen Times
The following projects are under review or are being planned:
*Stott’s Mill, 180 residences in Basalt
*RealAmerica affordable housing project, Basalt
*Pan and Fork site, up to 75,000 sq ft, Basalt
*Willits Town Center, 91,000 sq ft additional commercial, Basalt
*Tree Farm, up to 400 residences and 135,000 sq ft commercial, El Jebel
*The Fields, 98 residences, El Jebel
A development company wants to build 98 single-family homes and duplex units in the midvalley across Highway 82 from Blue Lake Subdivision.
The Fields Development Group LLC of Atlanta, Georgia, submitted an application earlier this month to Eagle County for a development called The Fields. The site is a 19-acre pasture at 554 Valley Road known as the Arlian Ranch Subdivision. The site is sandwiched between Highway 82 and Valley Road.
The development firm is proposing 26 single-family homes greater than 2,100 square feet, 34 duplex units at about 1,800 square feet and 38 additional duplex units at about 1,100 square feet.
Keith Ehlers of Grand Junction is one of the partners in the development firm. Although The Fields Development Group LLC is incorporated in Georgia, three of the partners have strong ties to the Roaring Fork Valley. Ehlers said he used to live in the valley and two of his partners still live in the area. Three partners are from out of state.
Ehlers said they are acutely aware of the problems school districts, the Forest Service, fire departments and police departments have with turnover due to lack of affordable housing. They aim to help ease the need for that housing.
“We’re from the valley. We get it,” he said.
At this point, they are planning on developing for-sale housing, he said. The project will be phased, so providing any sales prices at this point is impossible.
The application acknowledged Eagle County regulations require 25 percent of the residences to be dedicated as affordable housing. Ehlers said they will provide that deed-restricted housing and won’t seek a variance. They want to provide a specific plan on how to provide it later in the review process.
The Fields project is another example of how the land development business has emerged from the recession slumber. It is one of six major applications under review or being planned in Basalt and El Jebel. (See related fact box.)
At The Fields, the development firm considered a suggestion by Eagle County planning staff to cluster development on the site and leave more open space but dismissed the idea. Clustering would force the project to build too small of townhouses or apartment units. Those types of units are already abundant in the market, the developer said.
In addition, the application said it was providing the diversity of residences and density sought in Eagle County Mid Valley Area Community Plan, a guideline for land uses.
“Appropriate development that helps meet the goals and intentions of the (Mid Valley Area Community Plan) density designation is particularly important when considering this property is one of the last remaining sites suitable for development of density near existing infrastructure in the area,” the application said.
The application contended that El Jebel is the appropriate place for high-density development because it has been identified by Eagle County planning efforts as a community center. High-density development can utilize “its favorable proximity to infrastructure, mass trans, public services, public parks, trails, recreation centers, retail, groceries and entertainment,” the plan said.
The company aims to spread the residences over the entire 19-acre site and add community gardens, a pocket park and a recycling center, the application said. It needs a rezoning from the current rural residential to residential multi-family. The group won’t seek any variances from the Eagle County land use code, Ehlers said.
To mitigate traffic increases, The Fields Development Group suggested adding a traffic signal at the intersection of Valley Road/JW Drive with Highway 82. That would provide relief at the main El Jebel intersection, the proposal said, because some Blue Lake residents could use the new signal.
“The traffic mitigations proposed herein help enhance the El Jebel Community Center by relieving existing issues that are not otherwise being addressed, and provide additional capacity to accept forecasted growth into the future,” the application said.
The review will be started by the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Eagle County commissioners. The review by the planning commission hasn’t been scheduled yet.