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September 13, 2012
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Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: When a loss means victory

The mess in Avon has plenty of complexity, but fundamentally it is pretty simple.

The developer of the 1,800-acre Village at Avon -- where we shop at Walmart and Home Depot -- and the town of Avon have embroiled themselves in lawsuits against each other that have cost millions already.

Last October, they agreed to a mediated settlement according to certain terms. The deadline for completing the terms has been extended enough times that the judge overseeing the case and the bank financing the development have just about run out of patience. (The judge even has reserved the courtroom for trial in early 2013.)

If the judge or bank loses faith entirely in the ability of the town and developer to complete the settlement, the situation will go from bad to worse.

Letting this go to trial will cost millions more -- most significantly for the town and its taxpayers.

If the bank pulls out of the settlement, the development likely is toast, but the taxpayers' bill will continue.

The developer has the better cards, but has overreached by adding lots of extras to the new development plan that have little to do with the terms of the settlement.

The town frankly made a bad deal in the beginning and has a bad deal now. The only thing worse is having no deal and going to trial, while the bank essentially cashes out.

The bad deal actually isn't all that bad. But the lack of trust the town government and neighbors along the southern border of the Village at Avon have in the developer makes every little piece of the plan contentious.

The Town Council plainly has mistaken the angst and ire of one neighborhood for the whole town of constituents who have plenty to lose in the council's failure to swallow hard and accept an imperfect agreement rather than continuing on its bull-headed path toward the courtroom.

There may be more than the all of three Avon citizens caught up in the drama who live outside the Eaglebend neighborhood. We just haven't seen or heard them.

That's not to say I disagree with some of the concerns about the new plan. Housing on the northeast hillside would be too dense for wildlife concerns, for example. But some of the concerns frankly are ridiculous, like decrying the idea of a hotel and gas station on the barren north side of an I-70 interchange. That only makes sense.

This is a perfect case of a town winning if it utterly capitulated to the developer, and losing huge even with a big court victory.

There's plenty of complexity, but ultimately this is quite simple. And the rational decision is obvious.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2920.


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The VailDaily Updated Sep 13, 2012 04:18PM Published Sep 13, 2012 04:16PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.