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Avon Mayor: Give Avon the tools to redevelop

Ron Wolfe
Vail CO, Colorado

Avon will have a special election on May 6. Voters are being asked to modernize the town charter, now 30 years old, and change the way we can trade, sell, long-term lease or otherwise transact town property.

In 77 percent of Colorado jurisdictions surveyed by the Colorado Municipal League, town land decisions are made the way that we are proposing.

A conspiracy theory is brewing that the council is planning to re-zone and sell open space and parks in Wildridge. This is absolutely not true. That would be contrary to the basic values of our entire community and is prohibited by the Wildridge covenants. A majority affirmative vote by Wildridge property owners is required to change those covenants. The town has to abide by the rules just like every other property owner.

Moreover, every town master plan calls for the preservation of all existing open space and the acquisition of more open space. We are actively pursuing the acquisition of the U.S. Forest Service parcel between Singletree and Wildridge and the parcel north of the Eagle River across from Eagle-Vail to prevent these from being developed in the future.

At the town council meeting 5:30 next Tuesday, April 22, we urge you to ask about any aspect of the ballot question and get the facts. We will also vote to place a conservation easement on the Wildridge open space to protect it forever.

Why are we proposing a change to the town charter? The current town charter requires a vote on any town land transaction. This is a costly, unnecessary and time consuming requirement. The town is proposing a better decision-making process in which both the planning and zoning commission and the Town Council must hold public hearings about the land transaction. At these hearings the planning and zoning commission and the council will gather public opinion and determine if the transaction meets the rigorous new charter criteria: that the town is receiving adequate value for its land as shown by an independent appraisal of the property’s highest and best use, that the land transaction is consistent with the adopted town master plans and that the land transaction will have long-term public benefits. If the Town Council approves the transaction, citizens have the option to call for a vote to challenge the decision.

Why does Avon need this charter amendment? The town of has embarked on an ambitious plan to make our town core a better place. The town master plans call for the improvement of road configurations, creation of public gathering places and making Avon more pedestrian-friendly. To implement our plans, the town must partner with private land owners and developers to help pay for improvements on public land and to redevelop private land in the way we’ve envisioned.

Avon owns several parcels scattered through the town core, including the land under the fire station, the library, town hall and the Sports Authority parking lot, and these properties are crucial to our redevelopment plans. We need a bigger recreation center and a bigger library. Private landowners can partner with the town in redeveloping these parcels and neighboring private property. We need a rigorous yet efficient approval process without the expense and delay of a special election each time a piece of town land is involved. The Town will be able to obtain a better deal if we negotiate with the developers while obtaining public input through the process proposed.

How is citizens oversight assured? Citizen’s oversight is fully protected through participation in the planning processes, the extensive public hearings required to approve the transaction and the ability to call for a vote on the council’s decision.

Exactly what does the ballot question say? Go to the town Web site, http://www.avon.org, and read the complete text.

This change is good for Avon. It gives Avon a more efficient and effective process that maintains public participation and oversight. As the mayor of Avon and a committed resident, I ask you to vote YES May 6.

Ron Wolfe is the Avon mayor. E-mail comments about this column to letters@vaildaily.com.


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