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Eagle County set to review Ace Lane plan

EL JEBEL – Basalt officials will make a final attempt Tuesday to force a midvalley developer to come to them for approval of an El Jebel-area project.

Developer Ace Lane’s Tree Farm project will be reviewed by the Eagle County commissioners at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Eagle County community building in El Jebel. Lane is seeking approval for 319 residences and about 96,000 square feet of commercial space. His property is in unincorporated Eagle County across Highway 82 from the Willits Town Center.

Basalt officials contend the project should be reviewed by the town instead of the county because it proposes urban-level density. Basalt Town Council members previously asked Eagle County not to review the project, and direct Lane to seek annexation into Basalt.

The town changed strategy during a council meeting last week. “The town realizes the county is obligated to review an application that comes before them when it’s in their jurisdiction,” said Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt. “The town is going to ask them to deny it because it’s urban-level use. If it’s approved at all, it should just be in the town.”

The entire Basalt Town Council intends to attend Eagle County’s hearing, with the exception of Pete McBride, who is traveling, said Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux. Eagle County officials previously indicated they would give town officials a special time slot before Tuesday’s public hearing to state their case.

Lane’s project has plenty of supporters and critics. In previous public hearings, supporters touted the project’s emphasis on being pedestrian friendly and mass transit-oriented. The Tree Farm has also impressed people with energy efficient design that exceeds building codes and its proposal for a solar farm to provide a significant portion of the developments electricity.

In addition, 169 residents, or 53 percent of the total, would be deed-restricted affordable housing.

Critics contend the project is too large and will have too many impacts, like increased traffic.

The Tree Farm earned a substantial vote of confidence in May when the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend first-round approval. The commission advises the county commissioners on planning issues in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County. A project needs three approvals although the final round is mostly a nuts-and-bolts formality.

The stakes are huge in Basalt’s bid to review the project. Lane’s property is included in Basalt’s “urban growth boundary” – an area deemed viable for urban-level growth. However, The Tree Farm would be affected by the town’s growth management policies. The council created a rule in April to limit free market approvals to 32 per year. That means it would take at least five years for Lane to secure approvals from Basalt for the 150 free-market homes he wants to build.

The commissioners’ meeting will include presentations by the Eagle County staff, the developer’s team and a public hearing for supporters and opponents of the project. The commissioners cannot take formal action on the project until they resume the hearing at an unspecified date at the county seat in Eagle.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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