Fields development hinges on Eagle County upzoning
Project goes back to planning commission on Thursday
When a public hearing was held April 7 on a midvalley development project called The Fields, emotions ran deep among supporters and foes of the proposal.
Supporters tended to be younger and struggling for a foothold in the Roaring Fork Valley. They said the proposal for 27 price-capped units in a subdivision with up to 135 residences provided a chance to stay in the valley.
Critics tended to be older and established. For them, the traffic and other related impacts of The Fields are too much. They want their quality of life preserved.
But when The Fields returns to the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission on Thursday, it is likely to be a zoning analysis rather than emotional testimony that determine the project’s fate.
On the zoning issue, friends and foes of the project also have differing views.
The development team headed by Evan Schreiber is seeking a rezoning from Rural Residential to Residential Multi-Family. Rural Residential only allows one residence per 2 acres. Based on that zoning, Schreiber could build nine homes on the 19.39-acre acre property.
Eagle County has already deemed the site along Valley Road as appropriate for Moderate Density Residential in a planning document called a future land-use map. That designation allows “up to” seven dwellings per acre. Schreiber’s proposal is on the high side of the scale.
In the April 7 hearing, Schreiber said his team scrapped the plan of the prior developers that had fewer units but covered the property in homes. Instead of that cookie-cutter approach, the new plan clusters the homes in pods with open space and other amenities between the clusters.
The old plan “agitated” neighbors, Schreiber said, while the new plan is “much more organic.”
The old plan had a mix of single- and multi-family homes that added up to 60 separate buildings. The new plan has 47 buildings — 28 single-family, nine duplexes, one triplex, four quads and five multi-family.
Foes said the project is too dense, even in the rearranged form.
“This application is a very bad example of excessive growth,” Basalt resident Bernie Grauer said at the April 7 meeting. “Do the right thing and downsize this by at least half.”
Mark Fortunato, who lives near The Fields site, said April 7 that the requested upzoning is inappropriate.
“This is a leapfrog of three zoning classifications,” he said.
Fortunato and numerous other speakers said zoning that allows less density was appropriate on the site.
Jen Mueller, another area resident and Fortunato’s wife, attempted to show the planning commission a 24-minute video at the April 7 meeting. Other speakers conceded their time to her so she could show the entire video. The planning commission prohibited her from borrowing time and showing the video though they allowed her to enter it into the public record.
One section of the video stresses the opposition to the density of The Fields. The existing subdivision called Summit Vista, directly east of The Fields, has 51 units on 20 acres for a density of 2.4 dwellings per acre. The property west of The Fields is zoned Rural Residential.
Mueller’s video alleged that The Fields property should be a transition zone between Summit Vista and the rural lands. To serve as a transition, the proposed zoning should be rejected, she said.
Zoning for seven dwellings per acre “is not appropriate for rural El Jebel along Valley Road,” she said.
As of the April 7 meeting, 345 people had signed an online petition opposing The Fields. The planning commission will make a purely advisory vote. It advises the Eagle County commissioners on land-use issues in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of the county.
Thursday’s meeting is at 2:30 p.m. at the Eagle County community building in El Jebel, located adjacent to Crown Mountain Park.
On Monday night, the City Council listened to ideas for each old building. However, nothing laid out what the community space would actually entail — only aspirations and gathered community comment.