Editorial: Avon, keep power with the people | VailDaily.com

Editorial: Avon, keep power with the people

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe is correct in saying that most Colorado towns can trade and sell town-owned property without asking the voters first.

But most Colorado towns aren’t Avon. Here, land is particularly valuable and residents are particularly protective of it.

That’s why we can’t support changing the Avon town charter to let the Town Council dispose of property without voter approval ” at least not in the way it is being proposed.

The ballot issue, which Avon residents will consider on Tuesday, makes no distinction between small, incidental pieces of land and larger, more significant pieces of land.

The intent of this Town Council is to make it easier for Avon to redevelop its town core, but the language in the ballot measure offers no special protection for places like Nottingham Park. While residents may have little interest in keeping a town-owned ditch from being sold and developed, many may oppose, for example, turning publicly-owned, and publicly accessible riverfront over to a private developer.

Supporters of the measure argue that Avon residents still have the power to overturn any land trade or sale this council or any future council may make. But petitioning to overturn a council decision can be tedious and expensive. Further, voters should have the opportunity to directly influence how some Avon parcels are developed.

Councilman Dave Dantas, who opposes the ballot question, suggests a compromise: Only allow the Town Council to handle land smaller than one-quarter acre without putting it to a vote. But retain the public’s right to dictate what happens to larger pieces of land and more beloved pieces of land like open space and parks.

We like this idea, because it would give the Town Council the power to deal with land that the public doesn’t much value, but still would give voters the right to dictate what happens to larger parcels they care about most.

Avon residents should vote to keep their rights and ask their town leaders to come up with a measure that ensures the town’s most precious parts are protected.

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