One of last big midvalley development proposals hopes housing plan will aid approval
The Fields working to help institutions with affordable units
One of the last large development proposals remaining in the mid-Roaring Fork Valley is trying to sweeten the pot for approval by working with local institutions to provide affordable housing.
The developers of a project called The Fields are working with the Roaring Fork Fire Authority and Aspen Music Festival and School. Both entities have signed nonbinding letters of intent to purchase affordable units to rent to their employees.
“The applicant expects that one or more additional housing partnerships will transpire prior to construction,” said materials submitted by the development team to Eagle County in November.
The fire authority, which oversees Roaring Fork Fire Rescue, would like to buy four two-bedroom units that would be rented at 50%-80% of the area median income.
The Aspen Music Festival and School aims to obtain one two-bedroom unit and three one-bedroom units that would be rented at 80%-120% of area median income, according to materials submitted to the county by The Fields.
The Fields site is on the south side of Colorado Highway 82, across from the entrance of Blue Lake subdivision. The former landowners received a first round of approval, called a sketch plan, from Eagle County in 2016. The Fields Development Group, headed by Evan Schreiber, acquired the 20-acre site in 2019 and reworked the project.
“While the previously approved Sketch Plan checked many boxes regarding land use and zoning standards, perhaps the most important box was left un-checked — the creation of a forward-thinking and inspiring community in which to live,” the new owners’ plan states.
The plan proposes 135 residences — 30 single-family homes, 20 duplex units, 16 townhomes and 69 multifamily units. They would be clustered in “villages” within the development site. The home sizes range from 800 to 3,400 square feet, with the average at 1,675 square feet.
Seventeen of the residences will be affordable housing, with caps on sales prices or rents. That meets Eagle County’s requirement for 25% of the units to be deed-restricted affordable housing.
The affordable housing partnership with the Aspen Music Festival and School and Roaring Fork Fire Rescue were among tweaks made since Schreiber’s group submitted an application for the second round of review, formally known as preliminary plan.
“After several months of assessing and fine tuning our proposals, the updated application was re-submitted to Eagle County on November 9th for continued review by the staff,” Schreiber said in a statement to The Aspen Times.
“It’s worth noting that Eagle County currently has zero affordable price capped AMI housing units in its segment of the Roaring Fork Valley. Zero,” Schreiber’s statement said. He later added, “With that, the Fields has put a significant amount of energy working with Eagle County staff on identifying a tailored housing program.”
While lack of affordable housing is bound to be a big issue in the review, the developers must also deal with public frustration over traffic levels that create gridlock at peak times. The developers’ traffic study said the project would generate 1,021 vehicle trips per day on Valley Road.
As part of its mitigation plan, the Fields will supply the “lion’s share” of private sector planning for improvements Eagle County has scheduled at the Highway 82 intersection with El Jebel Road.
“These improvements will significantly reduce delays at the intersection while adding additional capacity,” Schreiber said in his statement.
Additional improvements are planned at the intersection of Valley Road and Highway 82.
The Fields will add one or two raised pedestrian crosswalks and flashing beacons on Valley Road. A 600-foot trail along the road is proposed as a second phase by The Fields. The goal would be to link to an existing trail network that leads to Crown Mountain Park.
It is still to be determined when the second round of review will commence. No hearing has been scheduled yet before the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning and Zoning Commission, which advises the Eagle County Commissioners on land-use issues.
Eagle County has experienced massive turnover in its planning department, so staff review has been farmed out to a consulting firm from Summit County.
“Like many businesses and organizations, we have experienced employee turnover this year,” Bill Gibson, manager of the Eagle County planning department, said via email. “We have engaged Community Planning Strategies to assist us during this transition period, so that we can continue to provide services while we rebuild our team.”
T.J. Dlubac, principal and owner of the planning firm, said it hasn’t been determined yet when The Fields will be ripe for a planning commission hearing.
“We have provided (The Fields representatives) with the latest round of comments on December 13th and have not received updated or revised plans in response to those comments yet,” Dlubac said in an email.
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