AVON, Colorado - It took a year to take one step in settling the legal dispute between the town of Avon and the developers of the Village at Avon. The second step may take weeks.
The council Tuesday voted 6-1 - with council member Buz Reynolds dissenting - to grant first-reading approval to an ordinance that's key to making the settlement work. The ordinance faces a second vote sometime in the next few weeks.
Council members and developers have been wrangling for months on the settlement, first announced Oct. 14 of last year. The town and developers have publicly expressed frustration with each other, and neighbors of the 1,800-acre property have been persistent in their opposition.
The developers delivered yet another load of revisions to their application between Oct. 4 and Oct. 8, after council members had made a very public demand Sept. 25 to see those documents by the end of that week.
Responding to the town's changes to the latest documents, Munsey Ayers, the lead attorney for the developers, more than once said "we don't agree with that."
The biggest objections were to the town's insistence on keeping the development's commercial size to the 650,000 square feet approved in 1998. The developers had proposed 950,000 in the package of revisions in the proposed settlement package.
Developers also balked at a town demand to limit the height of any hotel to 80 feet, rather than the proposed 135 feet.
And neighbors again passionately testified against the proposal.
"We still have major areas of disagreement, and language we still don't understand," neighbor Bette Todd said.
Meanwhile, all the parties are facing a trial date in early January, and the international bank involved in the litigation has just extended - ostensibly for the last time - its payments on the bonds issued to finance the developments streets and utilities.
With all that going on - again - the town and developers both said a settlement must be reached.
"Not getting it done is not an acceptable option," Ayers said.
Council member Chris Evans agreed, but said there's still a lot of work to do, so much, in fact, that he said he couldn't imagine the process being ready for a second vote Oct. 23, the council's next meeting.
But for council member Todd Goulding, a vote Tuesday was essential.
"This moves us toward a settlement," Goulding said. "I also think it's up to this council to deal with this issue."
Other council members expressed that desire. But that puts even more time pressure on the council. At least two new council members will be sworn in at the Nov. 27 meeting.
And, while at least a couple of residents urged the council to "stay strong" in the face of the pressure to get a deal done, Evans said he believed in a different form of strength.
"It would be so easy to say no, but it would not be the right thing for the town," Evans said. "Finding a workable settlement is (the right course). That's what takes the hard work."