Grauer: What commissioners should do |

Grauer: What commissioners should do

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Eagle County commissioners should apply the values that gained them election to their review of a proposal for a sprawling residential project called the Fields, near Crown Mountain Park.

Prominent among those values are stewardship of the environment and providing access for middle and lower income Americans to affordable housing. The commissioners should approve 70 residences, with 50% being affordable. Approving 70 residential units would provide 35 price-capped, deed-restricted units — eight more than the original proposal of 27.

A proposal that does not provide at least 50% affordable housing and cut the density in half will only be a template for “nodes” of suburban sprawl, filling up the valley floor with unattainable housing and environmentally-unsustainable development.

With midvalley new home prices from $900-$1,200 a square foot, even middle-middle class families earning $175,000 a year cannot afford the down payment and mortgage cost of a small residence. Pre-owned homes for $500 a square foot are rare as hen’s teeth.

As the former chair of the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission, I am aware of the many land-use procedures and policies that the commissioners must use reviewing proposals.

However, Eagle County land-use rules provide great flexibility to consider community benefits and sustainability in the approval process. Economic sustainability is part of that, but, with the build out of Willits and the Tree Farm, worker housing is the critical need for the valley, not more second homes.

While the project is being touted as “transit friendly,” it, in fact, doesn’t qualify as a “transit-oriented development” because the RFTA bus stop is too far away. 

We long-time, midmvalley residents want what younger people want: more affordable housing, but not at the cost of unsustainable density.

Bernard Grauer