Envisioned as large hotel, Avon property like to be zoned as residential instead | VailDaily.com

Envisioned as large hotel, Avon property like to be zoned as residential instead

AVON — The U.S. Highway 6 property east of the Ascent was sold in December, with the new owners hoping to break ground as soon as possible on a large hotel.

There is no zoning on the property, though, so development has been stifled.

The Town Council sat down with representatives from Colorado World Resorts, who now owns the property, on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Owner Branko Mocevic asked if he has a right to zoning on the property.

He was told that he did.

"Just give us our zoning and we don't have to waste anybody's energy," he said.

COMMERCIAL VS. RESIDENTIAL

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The property was annexed into Avon in 1985, and subsequently labeled as a planned unit development. With no actual plan attached to the planned unit development, however, the designation has served as a placeholder until zoning can be established. Plans have come forward, but none have been approved. Most recently, the town's planning and zoning commission voted 3-2 in favor of recommending the council approve a plan for a 210-room hotel and condominium project.

The council unanimously denied the recommendation, and Tuesday's work session was arranged to work out the zoning on the property.

The new owners were seeking a mixed use commercial zoning as that would allow for a hotel. High density residential was the other option suggested.

"Unless you give me agricultural," Mocevic said. "And I have to bring my cows."

Council member Matt Gennett said the Avon comprehensive plan calls for high density residential zoning for that area.

Asked his opinion on what benefit that zoning designation brings to the community, Gennett said creating a dense housing stock close to the Highway 6 transportation corridor would be a huge benefit.

"You could probably provide a variety of price points to meet certain market demands," Gennett told Mocevic. "I think you could achieve many of the things you're trying to achieve — you wouldn't have the hotel and you wouldn't have commercial — but you would have residential density that I think you could make work."

'YOU CANNOT ASK ME FOR A BRIDGE of $10 million'

Council member Jake Wolf said he agreed with Gennett, while Mayor Jennie Fancher said she could support a hotel on the property.

"I think the term boutique hotel gives a connotation of charm and a smaller size which, for me, would be do-able," she said.

Council member Scott Prince said he would be concerned about parking and traffic from even a small boutique hotel, and said residential use for that area is what is called out in the comprehensive plan.

At that point in the discussion, Mocevic interjected a suggestion.

"Let's say you support hotel," he said. "You, as a town, you can ask for many things from developer … if I go residential 100 percent with my code, and I say 'here, 10 units,' you cannot ask me anything … you cannot ask me for bridge of $10 million, you cannot ask me for $10 million extra lane, you cannot ask me to dedicate 10 acres of land."

Mocevic also made something else clear.

"I assure everybody here, I will not have affordable housing there," he said. "If you force me to build residences, very little amount of people will be able to purchase."

Council member Amy Phillips said she could be convinced a small hotel could comprise a portion of the property's developable area, but she has concerns.

"My biggest concern with a hotel is the employees that are added, and we as a community don't have enough places for those people to live," she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Smith Hymes said she also could support a hotel, but she had concerns.

"In my view it would have to be a much smaller project than the one that was presented," she said.

Planning and zoning commission member Bill Glaner, who recommended the council approve the original hotel project, said he wanted to connect the north and south sides of U.S. Highway 6.

"If a big hotel is going to give me a tunnel underneath Route 6 so people can walk underneath that highway without getting run over, I'm all for a big hotel," he said.

By the end of the meeting, all parties seemed agreeable to a high density residential zoning. Before any construction can begin on the property, the Town Council will need to approve the zoning ordinance in two readings. The developer can then submit building plans to the planning commission for approval. Upon approval, construction can begin.