Avon Town Council denies 210-room hotel and condo project on eastern edge of town | VailDaily.com

Avon Town Council denies 210-room hotel and condo project on eastern edge of town

This illustration presented to the Avon Town Council on Tuesday, Dec. 13, shows what a 315,000 square-foot hotel and condominium project could look like on the Highway 6 parcel of land known as the Folsom Property in Avon. The council denied the developer's effort to re-zone the parcel.

AVON — It has been said that the best incentive a town can provide for a developer is to make it clear what the town wants to see in the space the developer owns, and then make the process of creating that concept as straightforward and simple as possible.

Colorado World Resorts was not given a very large incentive package, by that standard, in the case of the Folsom property.

Asking themselves, "what's the appropriate zoning?" on the U.S. Highway 6 property at the eastern edge of town, the Avon Town Council decided one that allows for a 95-foot hotel is not among the answers at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

MINORITY OPINION

In recommending the rezoning of the property on Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Avon Planning and Zoning commission thanked the architect for the many changes they had made to the development plan over the course of 2017.

Members of the commission, who are appointed by the town council, expressed gratitude toward TAB Associates for accommodating the many requests they provided TAB in work sessions, including increasing the setback on the property and providing landscaping.

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The recommendation to send the rezoning application to the Town Council for approval was passed, 3-2.

As it turned out, the council agreed much more with the planning commission's minority opinion.

The council was unanimous in its decision not to uphold the commission's recommendation, with varied opinions as to why.

Council member Matt Gennett said from a planning standpoint, a rezone must include a clear benefit, and he did not see one in this case.

Council member Amy Phillips said from a hotel operations standpoint, her experience told her this was not a good location for a 210-room property.

Council member Scott Prince said he would love to see the area developed, but this is not the right project.

Mayor Jennie Fancher said there's safety concerns with pedestrians in the area.

INTERESTING BACKSTORY

Development on the 21.5-acre plot was once envisioned as a massive structure, rising 127 feet and stretching 900 feet along the mountainside. The death of one of the interested parties prevented that project from going to a vote, Greg Macik with TAB Associates told the Avon Town Council on Tuesday. Since then, the architectural firm has had several developers approach them about the project, Macik said.

Colorado World Resorts, a family-owned company out of Denver, purchased the property recently with the intent of developing it.

"The developer would like to break ground this year," town manager Virginia Egger told the council in a January memo labeled as confidential.

The memo has since been revealed to be not confidential, town attorney Eric Heil has confirmed. In it, Egger errantly characterized the entire development as confidential, Heil said.

Gennett questioned the confidentiality suggestion, and Fancher responded that she understood it to mean the project would remain confidential until the rezoning application was complete.

In messages to the town staff and the Vail Daily, Heil has corrected the misconceptions of both the mayor and the town manager.

"My opinion is that development applications are public record upon submittal to the town," Heil wrote in an email. "As such, if a public records request were submitted to the Town Clerk, the town would produce the development application as a public record, even if the town staff had not yet finished the application completeness review."

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

Gennett was the only one to speak out on the issue of confidentiality, and Fancher was the only one to challenge him.

Was this project deliberately presented as confidential to help adhere to the stated timeline of this year? Would the other members of the Town Council notice or care if it was? These are questions Gennett is asking himself.

Since the project is not going forward at this point, however, the bigger questions may go back to the land itself, and that old planner's philosophy. What project does the community want to see in this space? How can the town make the process to achieve that as straightforward as possible for the property owner?

The answer could lie in a suggestion presented to the architect by Egger.

"Come back with a work session," she said.