A pair of housing ordinances are nearing approval in Avon
Efforts include homebuyer tax relief, residential as use by right in industrial zone
AVON — With a vision of new housing units being added to future and existing commercial buildings, the Avon Town Council has approved the first reading of an ordinance to permit community housing as a use by right in the light industrial and commercial zone district in town.
The district surrounds Metcalf Road and also includes properties on Nottingham Road near the Metcalf intersection.
The effort could add more than 250 additional units to existing properties in the district and another 100 on vacant space.
Speaking in favor of the effort, Councilman Chico Thuon brought up Rich’s Auto Body on Metcalf Road as an example of a business that would benefit from the zoning change.
“If the engineering accommodated them to put pre-fab stacking on top of their existing building … is that allowed?” Thuon asked.
Planning director Matt Pielsticker said a project like that would have to go through a special review use process with the planning and zoning commission to examine “physically what it looks like and how it operates,” but that project could indeed work under the new code.
Workers staying at hotel
Lenny Ammaturo with Rich’s Auto Body said while adding residential units on top of the business would take time away from the business itself, he is getting desperate for employees.
“I do have a family in from California … I’m paying for them to stay at the Comfort Inn,” he said. “Over the summer I put a pretty big advertising campaign on ZipRecruiter, and when people look online for places to live, they can’t find it.”
The zoning would only allow the new housing to be constructed for Eagle County workforce housing.
“It couldn’t be just … a weekend skier,” Councilman Scott Prince pointed out.
Ammaturo said that’s fine by him.
“I think the weekend skier market is what’s got us so screwed up around here,” Ammaturo said.
Homebuyer tax break still pending
The town council has also approved on first reading an effort to increase the real estate transfer tax exemption offered by the town. Currently, homebuyers can take $160,000 off the price of their home before transfer taxes are assessed. On August 27, the council approved on first reading an ordinance which would increase that number to $400,000.
But when it came to examining the idea for the second reading, which would make it official, council members had second thoughts.
“I would opt for a smaller increase in the exemption, because it’s going to have less impact on our (capital improvement projects fund) and I really feel like the stuff we can do with that CIP money, it can’t be replaced,” Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes said during the town’s Sept. 10 meeting.
The town currently issues 65 to 70 exemptions per year. Increasing the amount of the exemption to $400,000 is expected to reduce the total amount of transfer taxes collected by about $312,000 per year.
Town Attorney Eric Heil suggested a more modest increase to the exemption, from $160,000 to $240,000.
Understanding that it’s a lot easier to increase the transfer tax exemption amount than to decrease it, which would take voter approval, Councilman Jake Wolf agreed with Heil’s suggestion.
“Since we can’t go back, nudge it a little bit, rather than nudging it the whole way,” Wolf said.
While $240,000 won’t get you a home in Avon, “I’m not opposed to going to Eric’s paltry $240,000,” council member Amy Phillips said. “As long as everyone recognizes that that is less than a two-bedroom apartment in LiftView.”
Heil said he will bring back a revised ordinance for the council to consider in October.
“I think I’ve got some ideas of where to find the overlap for consensus,” he said.
Eagle County Schools added six mental health counselors and the district will add two more school resource officers, according to the school district’s 2019-2020 budget book. The district also aised starting pay and gave staffers a 2.3% cost-of-living raise.