Buck Creek proposal clears hurdle
AVON — A plan to rezone land for a medical center and public safety facility received initial approval last week, but just barely.
After listening to concerns from local residents during a public hearing on the issue, Avon Planning and Zoning commissioners deliberated strenuously over whether they should give their recommendation to the Town Council for the rezoning of Buck Creek parcels 1A and 1B, located on Nottingham, Buck Creek and Swift Gulch roads on the north side of town.
The rezone is the first step in a plan to bring a medical services center to Lot 1A and what is being called a public safety facility — a joint fire and police station — to Lot 1B. Currently, Lot 1B is zoned for dwelling units and Lot 1A is zoned for a neighborhood commercial area. To bring the plan to the development phase, zoning on 1B would need to change to a public facilities zone, and 1A to mixed commercial.
Under a tight deadline due to a prospective deal with a tenant they’re courting, NexCore Group, the developer of the medical services center, needed a favorable recommendation from the planning commission, and needed it that night.
“A few weeks doesn’t sound like a lot of time in the real world, but … we have an end user that has a really tight end time frame,” said Todd Varney with NexCore Group. “From a realistic standpoint, even the slightest delay hurts us considerably, and really forecloses the opportunity to land one of our larger tenants.”
Former Avon Town Councilman Brian Sipes, who spoke out during the public hearing on the issue, said himself and the other residents who live nearby the project deserve more time to look at the application.
“I really, really beg the commission to table this tonight,” Sipes said. “There have been several months of non-public negotiations that have happened; there has been a lot of ground that has been covered, and I would just ask the commission to recognize that there’s a lot of information for the neighbors to get up to speed on.
“The timing isn’t your concern,” Sipes added. “It could have started sooner.”
While it’s intended to be a seven-member board, only four planning and zoning commission members — Jim Clancy, Lindsay Hardy, Phil Struve and John Minervini — were present. With Minervini and Hardy in favor of continuing the decision until April 7, and Clancy and Struve in favor of recommending approval of the rezoning, a deadlock situation ensued.
COUNCIL TAKING ACTION APRIL 8
Minervini said he felt the commission had not fulfilled the review criteria requirement recommended to the commissioners by town staff ensuring “transportation services and infrastructure have adequate current capacity or planned capacity, to serve potential traffic demands of the land use proposed in the plan amendment,” and wanted to see NexCore Group’s transportation study on the area, which they are planning on submitting to the commission with their development plan on April 7.
Hardy said she didn’t want to create bad precedence with the council.
“When we make a recommendation to council, they trust that we’ve looked through something thoroughly,” she said. “In the meetings that we’ve been to, they say ‘I trust our planning and zoning. I trust that they’ve read through everything. I trust that the recommendation that they are giving to us is thorough.’”
Varney suggested the commission proceed with the zoning, contingent upon the development plan that they’re going to be voting upon.
“Take a positive action tonight, and we can continue to pour tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars into the design phase comfortably over the next few weeks,” he said. “Then we can bring you the appropriate plan and the appropriate (parking and transportation) study, and if at that point you’re not happy, you deny it at the development level, and then the zoning falls away because it’s contingent upon us getting the development plan being approved.”
Even Sipes, speaking up from the audience, said he could get behind that idea, and it passed unanimously.
The commission’s zoning recommendation will head to the Town Council for action on April 8, Town Manager Virginia Egger said at the meeting, with the development phase expected to be presented to the commission at their April 7 meeting.