Avon town owned lands plan outlines worker housing ideas, passes council
AVON — Planning Director Matt Pielsticker began a town-owned properties discussion on Tuesday, March 27, by asking if anyone was in the business of workforce housing.
Speaking before the Town Council, Pielsticker presented revisions to a plan for the future of all town owned properties, noting that the council had expressed support for workforce housing on several town-owned plots of land.
The council approved of the document on first reading, examining the town’s seven properties and laying out expectations as to what should be done with those properties.
Workforce housing is called for on the Wildwood Road parcels in Avon, along with the land which could be developed on the Swift Gulch Road property near the town’s transit barn and the Wildridge structure that was formerly a substation of the Eagle River Fire & Protection District.
‘THINGS TO CONSIDER’
One idea for housing, however, wasn’t as welcomed by the council — Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Smith Hymes made it clear that she did not want the bottom level of the Wildridge structure used for housing.
“My preference is a community center on the ground floor, and housing on the second floor,” Smith Hymes said.
“What if we make it a community center and the community doesn’t use it?” responded Mayor Jennie Fancher.
The agreement reached by council was to develop the first floor of the Wildridge substation as a community center, and evaluate the site for its housing potential in the future.
“I don’t think we should preclude any one type of use,” council member Scott Prince said.
That attitude was extended to much of the plan that the council didn’t completely agree upon. The idea for a dog park in the town-owned property known as the “school site” near the roundabout at East Beaver Creek Boulevard and Post Boulevard was used as an example of how the plan is meant to outline allowable uses, not a provide an absolute prescription for each area.
“At some point in the future, we’re going to take this plan and we’re going to say these were the uses that were approved,” said council member Amy Phillips. “And then we’re actually going to put together a capital improvement plan for that parcel, and that’s the point at which we would drill down and see if it’s a good place for a dog park. So even though I’m not sure it’s the right place for a dog park, I’m not going to hold the parcel hostage. … We leave it in the plan as one of the things to consider.”
The largest and most contentious part of the plan involved Tract G, where the current Town Hall is located.
The plan calls for the Town Hall to be demolished to accommodate the relocation of the Hahnewald Barn, a more than 100-year-old structure which offers a window into Avon’s agricultural history. The barn is currently located on Eagle River Water and Sanitation District property and must be moved by spring of 2019.
“While I like the concept of the barn, I don’t want (the plan) limited just to the barn itself,” Prince said.
“So that means we’re not going to mention the barn at all?” Smith Hymes asked. “I don’t know how in the world we can justify that.”
“I’m OK with naming it as an allowable use,” council member Megan Burch said.
“It not a use, though, it’s a structure,” said council member Matt Gennett. “The use is actually what you’re doing inside the structure.”
Instead of specifically calling out the barn for the Town Hall site in the plan, the plan will call for the barn to be evaluated as a facility that could meet the uses of cultural, economic development of cultural uses.
The plan will come before the council for a public heading and second and final reading on April 10.
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