Eagle County ready to review revised Tree Farm project in El Jebel, with 340 residences and 134,500 sq ft of commercial space | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County ready to review revised Tree Farm project in El Jebel, with 340 residences and 134,500 sq ft of commercial space

This graphic shows how the Tree Farm proposal in the El Jebel area has progressed. The Eagle County Commissioners will start their review of the project later this month.
Courtesy image |


Three public open houses on the Tree Farm development proposal in El Jebel are scheduled this week.

Tuesday: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Eagle County Building in El Jebel.

Wednesday: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Basalt Library.

Thursday: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Eagle County Building in El Jebel.

A development project in El Jebel that has proven controversial in the past is back before the Eagle County commissioners with some major revisions.

The Tree Farm proposal will go before the commissioners Feb. 21 in El Jebel. The applicant, Ace Lane and his Woody Ventures LLC, will offer a sneak peek to interested midvalley residents this week with three public open houses in El Jebel and Basalt (see fact box on A5 for the schedule).

Lane’s team has reduced the land area the project would cover, eliminated some townhouses and clustered most of the remaining residences closer to a major bus stop. The team is touting the project as a true “transit-oriented development” intended to get people out of private vehicles and into buses.

The challenge appears to be an ongoing concern among some residents over increased growth in the midvalley — leading to changes in character and worsening traffic congestion. The Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the project in November 2015. Woody Ventures asked for the project to be tabled before it went to the commissioners so that revisions could be made.

The average size of the residences will be 1,116 square feet.

Guts of the proposal

The revised plan proposes as many as 340 residences on 43 acres on the north side of Highway 82, across from Whole Foods Market. The project would include 43 units of dedicated affordable housing, meeting Eagle County’s requirement.

In addition, Woody Ventures has committed to providing a 1 percent real estate transfer assessment to raise funds for Eagle County’s affordable-housing program. That will raise an estimated $2.6 million for the county over the first 20 years.

A large part of the free-market housing is intended to be “attainable” for the Roaring Fork Valley’s working class. There will be 180 apartments and 160 loft condominiums, according to Lane’s team. The units will be small to keep prices lower, planner Jon Fredericks said in a prior interview. The average size of the residences will be 1,116 square feet.

All 43 affordable-housing units and many of the free-market apartments would be built in the first phase of the project.

More than 80 percent of the residences would be located within a quarter mile of the existing Willits bus rapid transit stop on Highway 82. They would be clustered between the highway and an existing water ski lake.

The maximum allowable residential net square footage would be about 380,000 square feet.

In addition, the project would have up to 134,500 square feet of commercial space, including a hotel. The largest single-use retail space would be capped at 30,000 square feet to alleviate concerns that the project would attract a big box retailer or steal a grocer from Basalt.

The revised plan includes a 60,000-square-foot hotel. A 100-room, extended-stay facility is being contemplated.

Project downsized

The latest plan has been reduced from what the planning commission reviewed. The number of residences was reduced from 400 to 340 with the elimination of 60 townhouses on the north side of the lake.

That reduced the maximum square footage of the residential portion from 450,916 to 379,635 square feet, the application stated.

The overall size, commercial and residential, was reduced from 585,474 to 514,193 square feet.

The total land area of the project was reduced from nearly 72 acres to 43 acres.

That leaves about 157 acres of land in that area owned by Lane. He has an active application to create a 70-acre “conservation subdivision” that would have four 1.5-acre home lots for the Lane family but restrict further development.

Lane’s personal residence is 35 acres. Another 29 acres taken out of the Tree Farm project would be downzoned to “resource,” which is designed to preserve a rural character. The remaining property operates as a commercial tree farm and related business.

There is no plan to sterilize the undeveloped land via a conservation easement, Fredericks said. However, any change of use from “resource” to development would require an extensive review process. The Tree Farm will be phased over 15 to 20 years, so further development — if ever pursued — won’t be in the foreseeable future, he said via an email.

The Eagle County commissioners are scheduled to start the Tree Farm review at 5 p.m. on Feb. 21 in the Eagle County Building by Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel.

Further details about the plan can be found online at http://www.eaglecounty.us/Planning/Active_Land_Use_Applications/.