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Lake County planners recommend denial of Eagle Sky

Brief by Central Staff

Land Use – January 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

The Lake County Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended that the county commissioners deny the Eagle Sky Christian Challenge Camp.

The 3-2 vote came at a Nov. 20 meeting, and the county commissioners planned to vote before the end of 2000 on whether to follow the recommendation for denial, or to over-rule the planning board and approve the camp, perhaps with conditions.

At issue is a 903-acre parcel that flanks U.S. 24 north of Leadville. It is owned by the Eagle Sky Foundation, whose president is Dr. J.D. McKean, an Oklahoma physician with a history of bank violations and Medicare overcharges.

Eagle Sky has proposed developing the parcel into a religious camp that could have more than 3,500 residents at peak times, along with a conference center, lodge, and residential development. Making that happen would require a zoning change, and thus the hearing before the county planning board.

The main issue in Lake County has been that Eagle Sky is a non-profit organization, and thus wouldn’t pay property taxes, while it might demand thousands of dollars each year for additional county services — roads, law-enforcement, etc.

Eagle Sky has offered to pay impact fees, but Lake County has no mechanism for assessing or collecting them.

And it isn’t as though Lake County is rolling in the money — it ran at a $300,000 deficit this year.

At their Dec. 4 meeting, the commissioners proposed cutbacks in capital spending and eliminating some county jobs so they could balance the 2001 budget.

One capital cutback would be $70,000 less to the Leadville/Lake County Fire Department. The layoffs would be spread among the clerk, treasurer, building, and road and bridge offices.

At the meeting, several of those officials warned that the result of cutting staff would be delays, inefficiency, and worse service to the public.