Wildlife questions, future development intentions cited in Garfield County’s denial of Aspen Glen request to remove eagle protections | AspenTimes.com

Wildlife questions, future development intentions cited in Garfield County’s denial of Aspen Glen request to remove eagle protections

The view looking northeast from the Roaring Fork River bridge at Aspen Glen shows the area where the eagle nest buffer zone has existed since development began at the gated golf course and residential neighborhood in 1993. The wind-damaged tree where the former nest had been is seen at the far right, above the river. John Stroud/Post Independent

Voting last week to deny a request by property owners to remove a protective bald eagle buffer zone at Aspen Glen near Carbondale was the first step for Garfield County Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson.

The second step came Monday when they put their thoughts to paper, spelling out six specific reasons in a formal resolution denying the request.

After voting 2-0 on Oct. 11 (with Commissioner Tom Jankovsky recusing himself due to a stated conflict of interest), Commission Chairman Martin indicated the importance of making the decision legally defensible.

That came in the form of a three-page resolution denying the Aspen Glen Golf Company’s request to remove the decades-old bald eagle nest buffer zone along the Roaring Fork River, so that three parcels located within the 30-year-old development could be freed up for future new houses.

The commissioners gave the following reasons for doing so, as paraphrased from the resolution:

That the request was incomplete regarding wildlife corridor studies and impacts.

It did not adequately address issues of future building setbacks and floodplain protections following removal of the buffer zone.

It did not adequately demonstrate compliance with the 2030 Garfield County Comprehensive Plan and 2020 updates.

The request “is not right for the wildlife corridor, or the assets of Aspen Glen.”

That the buffer zone has been in place since 1992 and applicants did not adequately demonstrate the need for the requested change.

That the applicants did not adequately demonstrate compliance with the Garfield County Land Use and Development Code related to wildlife habitat areas within Planned Unit Developments.

Read the full resolution here:

Resolution of denial.pdf

The commissioners denied the request after two full meetings on Sept. 21 and Oct. 11 in which representatives of the Aspen Glen Golf Company made their case, and several members of the public commented, mostly against the request.

Commissioners also conducted a site visit on Sept. 29 before resuming the public hearing.

Several of those who spoke at the hearing, including many Aspen Glen residents, said that a more extensive wildlife corridor impact study — not just related to the eagles that frequent the area, but all wildlife — should be conducted before the request is entertained again.

Glenwood Springs attorney David McConaughy, who represented a couple who was under contract to buy one of the affected parcels, said after the resolution was approved on Monday that no decisions have been made as to a new request or potential legal challenge.

“We will be meeting the county staff about some procedural questions,” McConaughy said.

The Aspen Glen Golf Company was separately represented by Chad Lee of Balcomb and Green attorneys in Glenwood Springs. Lee was not immediately available for comment.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.


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