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Tree Farm decision likely from Roaring Fork Valley planning officials

Nov 4, 2015

The proposed Tree Farm development has gotten a lot of attention in the last several months, and it’s not even in the final review yet. On Thursday night, planning commissioners responsible for what’s developed in the El Jebel area will consider whether to support the project.

 

If approved, the Tree Farm could have up to 400 new residences, including townhomes and apartments. It would also include a maximum of about a 130,000 square feet in commercial space, plus some lodging. The Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission is putting the project under the microscope, meeting for months to review, question, and take public comments on the proposal.

On Thursday night there will be few loose ends to tie up before coming to a final decision. Eagle County Planner Scot Hunn is recommending the project be approved. “[Commissioners] have the option to approve the development proposal,” he says of what comes next. “They could approve that with conditions. Or they can deny. And essentially it’s a recommendation.” After that, it goes to the Eagle County Commissioners who have the final say.

One of the outstanding issues at tonight’s meeting is reviewing a new parking analysis of neighborhoods in the Roaring Fork Valley. “We’ll also talk about an updated housing plan,” continues Hunn. “Right now the applicant is proposing to build all of the affordable housing within the first phase,” which would at 45 or 46, depending on how you count the units, would be less than half of the 100 units of affordable housing normally required.

Five more units would be mandatory, bringing the total to 51, if the developer decides to take longer. Now it’s also more clear about when those units would be built. “So before they approve for a second phase or a second final plat,” explains Hunn, “they’d have to essentially prove that the affordable housing units in the first phase have been built, and inspected by the county, and certified for occupancy.”

On Thursday night, Commissioners will also talk about other variances on the table, like road dimensions, which have been a concern for the Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District. But the conversation could be defined by renderings of what the development could look like. Planner Jon Fredericks describes the mixed use buildings this way:  “We might have some commercial, shops on the first floor, and then residential on the second and third floors. Even though it’s one building it’s designed to look like four buildings.”  In other words, making the development not look like a huge, big box development, which is one of the key fears from some officials and residents in the area.

Thursday night’s meeting at the El Jebel Community Center starts earlier than usual, but the Tree Farm project is expected to begin at 4pm.