Buckley sounds off; motives questioned | VailDaily.com

Buckley sounds off; motives questioned

Christine Ina Casillas

Pete Buckley

The variance request was for new loading, building and parking rights at a distribution center at the bottom of Nottingham Road. The variance was brought before the Planning and Zoning Commission Nov. 18 under the notion that the request would be denied. Members of the commission, a nonpolitical board that reviews and makes recommendations on development projects to the Town Council, said there were other alternatives that could be researched first.

The debate sparked by the project’s requirement that parts of Nottingham Road be blocked by truck traffic from the distribution center. Avon Town Councilman Peter Buckley questioned the reasoning behind the request and how it best fits the town.

“I went in there asking questions only,” Buckley said.

Buckley then Tuesday attacked the Planning and Zoning Commission, saying they “dismissed” his questions, and he expressed “concern with how the commission is operated.”

Buckley apparently asked, “How does this proposal make sense to Avon?”

The question, he said, was followed by a “dismissal.”

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Buckley questioned the request because of the heavy traffic on Nottingham and Metcalf roads.

“The Nottingham/Metcalf corridor is under siege for traffic,” Buckley said. “How does (the proposal) make sense, and who would do that as a first choice? I don’t want additional truck traffic on that road. Where’s the win-win for all.”

However, other Avon Town Council members said they didn’t understand why the proposal became such a problem when it was expected to be denied, and the applicant was expected to return with an alternative plan.

“This is a non-issue if the applicant comes back,” said Brian Sipes, Avon town councilman. “I don’t see how a variance issue becomes such a problem.

“This is not a planning and zoning problem, because (the commission) is doing exactly what they’ve been asked to do by us.”

Sipes voiced concerns about Buckley’s decision to speak before the commission.

“Planning and zoning is a nonpolitical body,” Sipes said. “That’s how they function. We say, “What’s in it for us?’ If planning and zoning did that, it would throw zoning and the town code out the window.”

Yet, some council members also questioned why Buckley chose to speak for or against a proposal brought before the commission by an applicant in which Buckley was suing.

“Whether you go to a meeting is your choice,” Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds said Tuesday. Earlier, Reynolds said, “Peter’s just being Peter.”

According to Avon town officials, council members can speak about projects as a resident, but must give his or her rights away as council members.

However, Buckley was asked last July to recuse himself from any decisions with connections to Vail Resorts.

“When business comes before the Avon Town Council involving Vail Resorts, Inc. and its affiliates, we believe that the councilman and his wife, Debbie Buckley, should be disqualified from participation in discussions and voting on the issue,” Martha Dugan Rehm, senior vice president and general counsel for Vail Resorts wrote in July in a letter to Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds.

Buckley announced in July that he would pursue a $2 million civil lawsuit against those he believed were responsible for his being charged with computer fraud. Buckley said he intended to to sue Vail Resorts, Vail.Net and John Uhley, vice president of internet services at Vail.Net and Vail Resorts and Vail.Net – A Vail Resorts company.

Buckley, who with his wife, Debbie – an Avon councilwoman – operate InternetVail.com, a home computer and Internet business, was accused of illegally flooding Vail.Net’s e-mail server with thousands of “spam” messages, or bogus e-mails.

Buckley faced three felony charges, which could have carried sentences of two to six years and a fine of up to $500,000. Those charges were later dismissed.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.