What a long, strange trip it’s been for El Jebel’s Tree Farm project | AspenTimes.com
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What a long, strange trip it’s been for El Jebel’s Tree Farm project

LONGTIME COMING

Ace Lane submitted his initial plan for his property in the El Jebel area in 1993. The plan has been altered numerous times over the 27 years and received final plat approval from the Eagle County Commissioners. Here are highlights of the 27-year saga, based on Eagle County records.

•1993: A modest proposal for Kodiak Park was submitted to Eagle County and received two of three necessary approvals.

•1994: Eagle County didn’t grant final approval because of road access issues connecting the property to El Jebel.

•1997: Approvals lapsed for Kodiak Park due to lack of action.

•2000: Lane submitted a new plan and received the first of three approvals. The approvals expired without action.

•2009: Lane submitted a new plan for the Tree Farm and received the first of three approvals. He was granted two-year extensions on the approvals in 2011 and 2013. An application for the second approval was submitted in 2014.

•2017: Eagle County grants the second of the necessary approval to the enlarged Tree Farm plan.

•2019: Final plat approval was granted for phase one of the project.

•2020: Final plat approval was granted for phase two of the project.

Twenty-seven years after initially proposing a development in El Jebel, Ace Lane received the final approval needed from Eagle County on Tuesday for his Tree Farm project.

There were several bumps since 1993: Lane bought out family members and reworked the proposal, economic downturns stalled plans to build, prior approvals expired, the current proposal sparked significant opposition, and litigation challenged the county’s approval.

Eagle County Commissioners Matt Scherr and Jeanne McQueeney on Tuesday approved the Tree Farm Phase Two final plat in what was largely a technical step on engineering and land-use issues. McQueeney called it “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”

The final plat approval requires Lane to provide a $7 million letter of credit to guarantee the landscaping and road improvements will be completed.

Lane can proceed with preparations of phase two of the project, which features some of the main components of his plan — a four-story, 122-room hotel and a 77-residence independent living facility for people age 55 and older.

Lane’s property is across Highway 82 from Whole Foods, the site of his existing Kodiak Lake. The hotel is contemplated at the northeast intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane. The independent living complex would be upvalley of the hotel.

Phase 2 also features 196 apartment units, with capped rents on 40 of them.

While Tuesday’s vote was on technical issues, the real debate occurred in 2017. The Eagle County commissioners voted 2-1 in June 2017 to grant preliminary plan approval after numerous, often contentious public hearings. Lane can build up to 340 residences with a square footage of nearly 380,000 square feet and construct up to 134,558 square feet of commercial space. The proposed hotel will take up about half of the commercial space.

The Tree Farm site is nearly 43 acres, of which 22 acres will be open space.

Phase 1 features a mix of residential and commercial space.

Grading and infrastructure work has been underway at the Tree Farm since last fall. Construction of the first building in Phase 1 is expected to start later this year.

One potential hurdle remains for the project. An opposition group called Save Mid Valley filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Eagle County’s approval of the project. An Eagle County District Court judge denied the request. Save Mid Valley appealed but the lower court’s decision was upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals last month. Save Mid Valley filed a petition last week asking the court of appeals to reconsider its decision, according to attorney Tim Whitsitt. The request was denied on Thursday, July 23. Save Mid Valley has the option of asking the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the case.

(Editor’s note: This story was updated to show the Colorado Court of Appeals denied the request to reconsider its decision.)

scondon@aspentimes.com


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