Making Avon special takes planning |

Making Avon special takes planning

Larry Brooks

Avon and the entire Eagle Valley are undergoing tremendous change.Others are learning what we have known for years: We are fortunate to live in a very special place. And it is our job as your town of Avon staff and Town Council to preserve what makes us special while we continue to grow and develop. It is a responsibility we take very seriously and work hard to fulfill.One of the principal ways we fulfill this responsibility is through the development-planning process. It is not always a simple process or a fast one. It takes time, patience and perseverance, but that is precisely the way it is intended to work. Smart planning requires balancing multiple interests, and it is our job to make sure that the interests of the developer, impacted parties, and – most importantly – the town and our residents, are all balanced so that the long-term interests of the community are protected. Recent developments with the Village at Avon project are a case in point. There is broad agreement within our community on the need for a new fire protection facility, a new ambulance facility and a new school. The challenge comes in finding locations for these facilities that are appropriate and balance all the needs of our community. For example, the plan for the Village includes a new town park. This will be a wonderful asset to our community and could include a track, high-altitude training field, and other amenities. Unfortunately, the proposed site for the ambulance facility would have split part of the park in two, severely limiting our options. As a result of the planning process, the ambulance site has been moved a few hundred feet to a location that will be more effective for the ambulance facility and preserve our options for the park. The location of the school is another example. The developer requested that it be moved to a new location on a hill that was created from fill dirt from another location. Unfortunately, the soil has not been tested and further due diligence is needed to make sure it can be built there. That is why the town staff and council suggested during the planning process that these tests be done before approving this location. The developer agreed, and has also agreed to not move forward with any further development in other potentially suitable school sites until those tests have shown that this proposed site will work. The Traer Creek development is doubling the size of our town and bringing with it 650,000 square feet of commercial space and 2,400 new homes. The impact of this development will be felt for decades to come, and it will shape our community in countless ways. That is why it is so important to take the time to air all the issues associated with the development and make sure that it will be done in a way that protects all the community’s interests.That is not to say that the process cannot move quickly when appropriate. The town cannot take action on a planning matter until an application is submitted, and the application involving the school, ambulance and fire districts at the Village at Avon was not filed until September of this year. But this is an example of an application where all the pieces fell into place quickly, and the Town Council is now set to give final consideration the application in early January, a short four months since the application was filed.Despite the expediency with which this particular application has moved, planning is not a race to the finish line. It must be a thoughtful and deliberate process. The fact that the council reached unanimous agreement on these changes to the Traer Creek development, with the support of the developer, the school district and the fire and ambulance districts, is evidence that the planning process works. It could take 30 years for Traer Creek to be fully developed, and our vigilance as stewards of our community will continue throughout its build-out to ensure that our community remains the special place it is today.Larry Brooks is the town manager of Avon.

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