Study shows midvalley could expand by 33 percent
July 13, 2009
BASALT – The population of the Basalt and El Jebel areas will grow by about 33 percent over the next four decades if elected officials rely on existing zoning, according to a new study by Eagle County government.
A “build-out analysis” indicates there are about 1,081 additional residences that could be built in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County. That includes residences that are approved but unbuilt as well as residences allowed by current zoning, according to project manager Kris Aoki.
There are currently 3,312 residences in that portion of the valley, producing a population of nearly 8,000 people. If all the homes that could be built are built, the population would grow by an estimated 2,600 people, the study showed.
Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties all come together in the midvalley. Garfield and Pitkin aren’t included in the study, so it is a partial analysis of the build-out potential.
Forecasting the growth rate is next to impossible. It’s been volatile in the last decade. The mild recession of 2001 was followed by a development boom throughout the middle of this decade. Now there is a more severe crash with the Great Recession, and construction has stalled.
Aoki said the study relied on the Colorado Department of Local Affair’s long-term projections for growth to establish a growth rate. The study assumed the 33 percent growth in population and residences would occur steadily between 2010 and 2050.
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Aoki said the study examines only the current development potential. It doesn’t take into account that developers and land owners often seek an “upzoning” of their property – or the ability to increase the density. The plan also couldn’t anticipate specific proposals on land with general zoning.
For example, developer Ace Lane owns land in El Jebel zoned “planned unit development,” which is a general type of zoning with no specific density tied to it. The build-out analysis didn’t include any residences on Lane’s land, but he is seeking approval for 319 homes. That is one example of how actual development could exceed the study’s projections.
The study showed that most new units in Eagle County would be allowed along the Highway 82 corridor. An additional 551 residences could be built in the valley floor, primarily in Basalt and El Jebel. That includes the Willits area, where Basalt has approved hundreds of units that haven’t been built yet.
Emma only has the potential for about 14 more homes, according to the analysis. The Fryingpan Valley could see 121 more residences, mostly second homes.
The study indicates the explosive growth in Missouri Heights might resume once the recession ends. Another 398 homes could be built in rural, hilltop subdivisions there – about twice the number of homes already in the Eagle County portion of the area. If that level of growth occurs, it would add an estimated 763 residents.
The build-out analysis was performed as part of Eagle County’s update of a land-use planning document called the Mid-Valley Community Area Plan. The document, which is essentially a blueprint for the type and amount of development that will be allowed, hasn’t been updated since 1991. The guiding document could be finished later this year.