Avon creates urban renewal authority
AVON – With its eyes on a future, much busier downtown, the Avon Town Council on Tuesday created an urban renewal authority, which councilors have said is the best way to fund Avon’s ambitious revitalization plan.The urban renewal authority, which will have the same members as the Town Council, will have the power to implement a unique funding mechanism called tax increment financing, which can pump money into fixing “blighted” areas of town, fund public improvements and encourage redevelopment projects in the east and west town centers.Three people spoke briefly at the meeting in favor of creating the authority and implementing the town’s urban renewal plans. Jill Kovacevich, the practice manager at Doctors on Call, told the council that she would be happy to see Avon go through urban renewal now instead of waiting until it actually resembles an inner city.After that, the council voted unanimously to create the authority and begin the urban renewal process. The authority will act as a separate group from the Town Council, will hold its own meetings and will soon make decisions on the exact boundaries of the urban renewal area.BlightBefore creating an urban renewal authority, the council had to prove that there are enough unsavory parts of town to discourage development and investment. A “blight study” was commissioned to sniff out those deteriorated and disorganized parts of town.The surveyors found enough potholes, cracked sidewalks, nonsensical parking lots and disorganized streets to consider Avon blighted and therefore qualified to undergo urban renewal.The authority can then implement tax increment financing, a concept based on anticipated growth in property tax revenues. It allows the urban renewal authority to issue bonds to pay for necessary public improvements, and as redevelopment occurs, the increase in property taxes generated due to increased assessed values are used to pay off the bonds.The money also can be used to reimburse developers for parts of projects and acquire property.Planners are looking to make West Avon a plaza full of shops, restaurants, a parking garage and easy access to Nottingham Park and the Westin Riverfront Village. A new “main street” would be the center of the new development. The streets on the east side of town will be reorganized and given a neighborhood feel with more shops, more homes and an open plaza area, the town says. ========================What is blight?Blight, originally a word reserved for ghettos and inner cities, is basically anything that could slow town growth and discourage development, whether it be crumbling structures, a lack of sidewalks, unclean trash cans or bad layouts. Surveyors found 390 instances of blight in the core of Avon.The town must also meet four of 11 specific criteria to be considered “blighted,” and the town actually met nine of the criteria, said Ken Schroeppel, of Matrix Design Group, a consultant for the town.Here are a few examples of blight in Avon explained in the report:• Metcalf Road, Nottingham Road and West Beaver Creek Boulevard didn’t have much in the way of sidewalks, curbs or gutters. Disconnected sidewalks were found in the East Avon commercial areas where there are a lot of pedestrians.• There are no sidewalks at all in some busy parts of town where people walk, Schroeppel said.• Several residential areas were found with deteriorated windows, doors, siding and roof. A parking area in East Avon has a deteriorated ceiling.• Some parking lots require drivers to perform complicated turning maneuvers to leave.• Many pedestrians use unsafe shortcuts between bus stops and retail stores.• Overgrown vegetation, a crumbling parking lot and an abandoned refrigerator were found at a vacant building on Metcalf Road.• Cracked and broken asphalt was found everywhere. Some parking-lot layouts didn’t make sense.• Several buildings on Metcalf Road around Nottingham Lake don’t have direct access to fire or emergency vehicles. Several buildings in the area didn’t have sprinklers or fire alarms.• Many vacant buildings and undeveloped areas were found.====================================================Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or email@example.com.
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