Avon Town Council selects Planning and Zoning Commission members
Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission is made up of seven members appointed by Town Council for two-year terms. Per the end of four previous commission members’ terms, Avon Town Council appointed four members on May 9: Brad Christianson, Olivia Cook, Anthony Sekinger and Ryan Wolffe.
Former commission members Donna Long, Martin Golembiewski and Steve Nusbaum wrap their terms up this month. In March, the town of Avon began its search for new commission member applicants. Six complete applications were received — one a re-application from Sekinger. Other Planning and Zoning Commission applicants included Gregg Cooper and Greg Strahan.
The seven-member Planning and Zoning Commission is set up such that at least five of the members are required to be registered electors within the town of Avon at the time of their appointment. Two commission members may be Eagle County residents who are not registered electors of Avon.
“The stated composition goal is to strike a balance between lay community and industry professionals,” according to a May 4 memo from Avon planning director Matt Pielstick to Avon Mayor Amy Phillips and the town’s council members.
For their interviews, the applicants attended the regular Avon Town Council meeting held on May 9. Strahan and Wolfe attended and completed their interviews remotely.
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Brad Christianson is a bartender and server at Pazzo’s Pizzeria who, in his application to the Planning and Zoning Commission, said his longtime residency prompted him to become more involved within the community and town operations. Christianson moved to Eagle County in 2007 and had lived in Avon for 12 of his 16 years here. While he has not previously worked in planning, zoning, development or design, Christianson noted in his application that he’s eager to learn and help shape his community on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Two avenues Christianson said he would prioritize on the Planning and Zoning Commission are increasing the supply of workforce housing to meet its incredible demand as well as addressing parking issues and concerns throughout Avon.
In his interview, Christianson said he is constantly witnessing the effects of an affordable housing shortage within the community.
“At my restaurant, we’re doing a lot of hiring — anybody who comes in — because we need people,” Christianson said. “It doesn’t even come down to calling references or anything anymore. We need bodies and if we get a little bit of time out of them, it’s better than nothing, which is obviously not ideal. We’d like to have long-term staff … but it’s getting harder and harder. I’ve also been a renter in Avon for a very long time.”
Olivia Cook works for the state as a Housing Development Specialist for the Division of Housing within the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. In that role, Cook coordinates grant and loan application processes for affordable housing developments with local governments and organizations on the Western Slope.
“I am passionate about housing and understand many of the unique hurdles to housing development in rural and resort towns in Colorado,” Cook said.
Additionally, Cook formerly worked as a Planner for Eagle County.
“I miss working in the planning world and (I) understand how critical zoning and the Planning Commission can be in shaping communities,” Cook said.
With the steady growth of Avon’s population, she also said it’s important for Planning and Zoning Commission members to be intentional while continuing to shape that growth.
Cook said she applied to become a Planning and Zoning Commissioner because she loves the community in Avon and wants to give back in a manner that utilizes her professional training.
As a renter and young professional, Cook said she is passionate about representing similar populations of the local community. Thus, establishing more opportunities for affordable workforce housing is a priority of Cook’s as well as a new member of Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Aside from having already served on Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Sekinger works in project management and construction.
In his interview, Sekinger said it’s been an honor for him to work with the town of Avon to help craft the community.
“I think that’s the biggest reason that I started was just to get involved with the community of Avon, where I live and where I will continue to live,” Sekinger said.
Sekinger said he wants to keep working on the Planning and Zoning Commission because there are several exciting things coming up for the town that he wants to continue being involved in.
In his second term, Sekinger said he wants to help further push for affordable housing options in Avon. He said it’s sad to see that so many young local professionals are straying away from the idea of owning in Avon because “they just can’t afford it.”
The final appointee, Ryan Wolffe has lived in Avon full-time for over 15 years. Locally, he has 20 years of experience as an architect and currently works as the administrator for the EagleVail Design Review Committee. Wolffe has also worked as a senior design review analyst for Vail Resorts’ Design Review Administration and served as a chairperson on the Bachelor Gulch Design Review board for eight years.
“I am aware of the growing pains many towns in our county are having and those are amplified in a resort-based town such as ours,” Wolffe said.
Wolffe said that while he does not hold a long-range vision for Eagle County or the town of Avon, he looks forward to reviewing applications for land use without bias, reviewing them on their own merits and against the Avon Comprehensive Plan and Development Code.
The Planning and Zoning Commission members appointed this May will have terms that extend until 2025.