Eagle County’s moratorium good for all concerned
October 6, 2005
Timeout.That’s what Eagle County Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon said Tuesday, when they voted to impose a nine-month moratorium on certain kinds of development applications.Menconi and Runyon say the county needs time to finish new land-use regulations that will govern development in sensitive wildlife habitat and construction on ridges and hillsides, and promote water conservation and environmentally friendly building techniques.To do that, the commissioners decided that for the next nine months property owners will not be allowed to build any more than the existing rules currently allow. If an Eagle County resident’s land is zoned for one house per 10 acres, then he’s allowed to build at that density. The moratorium bars that landowner from applying for a subdivision that would allow, say, one house every five acres.A number of property owners and developers were on hand Tuesday to voice opposition to the moratorium. Some of them expressed doubts that the county could complete its work in time to honor the nine-month deadline. One even went so far as to accuse the commissioners of using the moratorium to achieve their “personal goals.”If Menconi and Runyon’s “personal goal” is to bring some semblance of sanity to development in Eagle County, then we applaud them. Thousands of Eagle County residents who voted them into office are probably relieved to see something happening, as well.The sprawling, unwieldy development that defines Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum and Avon provides an abundantly clear picture of what lightly regulated development can do to the environment and a community. Strip malls and subdivisions mar much of the landscape in the Eagle River Valley, making it hard to differentiate from the misplanned suburbs of Denver.With the state demographer predicting high growth in the coming decades, and with more and more baby boomers pining for a second home in the mountains of central Colorado, it makes sense for Eagle County to adjust its land-use code to suit.A fair amount of the Roaring Fork Valley is governed by Eagle County. Our quality of life in the midvalley depends largely on Eagle County putting its land-use code in order. Barring the types of applications that require considerable time and effort from county planners so that those same planners can work on revising the code makes sense. And if they do their work right, everyone will be better off – the environment, our communities and those fortunate enough to own property here.