Letter: Groundhog Days all over again
Roaring Fork Valley planning commissioners, Eagle County commissioners and Eagle County Planning Department staff:
The planning review process for Roaring Fork Valley and Eagle County development proposals is wearing thin on the populace. On behalf of the people of the Roaring Fork Valley who attended over and over and over again the public hearings on the Tree Farm application, I hereby respectfully request a freeze on all pending applications. It is time for a moratorium, as it is vital to address procedural issues before the entire midvalley floor is a sea of housing and commercial development.
As witnessed with the Tree Farm proposal before the Roaring Fork Valley Planning Commission (Eagle County’s planning and zoning commission here), the latest round of hearings began in June and ran through eight long meetings until the citizen board unanimously denied it on Nov. 5. The proposal now goes to the Eagle County commissioners for another few months of hearings. In addition, The Fields, another housing development in the unincorporated Eagle County portion of the Roaring Fork Valley, will begin its approval process in front of the Planning Commission on Thursday.
The public is asked to attend and comment at each meeting, resulting in long waits (generally two hours or more) before being allowed to speak for up to three minutes. The hearing procedure as it stands is discouraging to those who are able to wait around for their three minutes, and even when you are able to speak, there is no give and take with the commissioners or planning staff. They tell us not to repeat what someone else has said already, as if repetition isn’t valuable at driving a point home. It creates distrust among the public and has served only to make opponents as well as supporters dig in their heels. This process is exhausting, combative and expensive.
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We request that the commissioners and planning staff review an alternate hearing process mimicking a caucus. In this model, concerned residents, staff and developers can sit down and come to a consensus on what best serves the public interest before submitting a formal development application. In this way, we seek to support our neighbors and develop together the best possible plans for the valley floor, the midvalley and our existing towns and neighborhoods. In this way, we seek to enhance communication instead of being lectured to. In this way, the residents of the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County have an actual say in what is acceptable for our valley instead of listening to nonresidents from the Planning Department tell us how the new projects will benefit our community.
We request this freeze be implemented immediately despite pending proposals. We are anxious to retain the rural nature of our valley. It is our backyard.
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