New commissioner chosen in Avon |

New commissioner chosen in Avon

Matt Zalaznick

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Brian Sipes Tuesday night was selected by Town Council to fill the seat vacated by Councilman Rick Cuny, who resignedearlier this month.”I’ve lived here eight years, building up the desire to give back,” said Sipes, an architect for Zehren and Associates, who lives on Nottingham Road. “I looking forward to understanding what the citizens envision for our town.”Cuny, the often outspoken owner of Beaver Liquors, left his seat on council after Tuesday night’s meeting. He and his family have moved to Edwards, and town law says council members must live in Avon.When a council member resigns, the remaining six council members chose someone to fill the seat until the next town election, which, in this case, in is November. Mayor Judy Yoder and Councilman Mike Brown began their careers on council as replacements for departed council members.Sipes, who said he plans to run for reelection in November, was picked from a field of seven residents who applied to fill Cuny’s seat. Sipes, who officially takes his seat on the council June 11, has been on the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission for three years.The Planning and Zoning Commission, also known as the “P&Z,” advises the Town Council on development issues and can approve some building projects.”On the P&Z, things are lot more cut and dry. We act on applications weighed against existing legislation,” Sipes said. “The Town Council makes that legislation and has a greater ability to lead the town.”Sipes was chosen from a field of applicants that included Bob Angel, Tab Bonidy, Rene Martinez, Steve Michonski, Tim Savage and Barbara Wilson.Mayor Judy Yoder cannot run for reelection because of term limits. Aside from Cuny’s seat being open, council members Debbie Buckley and Mac McDevitt will also have to run for reelection in November if they want to retain their seats.Except for Wilson, all the applicants – some of whom said they would run for the council in the fall were interviewed by the council Tuesday afternoon.”It’s important to create good opportunity for future generations,” Martinez said. “I’ve seen many cities and they’re growing, but they’re creating a lot of problems for future generations.”Council members asked all the applicants their opinions on the gondola Vail Resorts want to build to carry skiers from Avon to the top of Strawberry Park on Beaver Creek Mountain. Vail Resorts has asked Avon to help pay for the gondola.”I think the gondola is a huge advantage to the town of Avon not looking at anything other than that we’d be connected to Beaver Creek ski resort,” Michonski said. “But I wouldn’t support giving Vail Resorts any money if it’s not going to be a big benefit to the town.”Savage said he’d applied to help keep Avon from changing too much.”If this town never changed again, it’d be perfect for the rest of my life. But that’s obviously not going happen,” said Savage, who runs a real estate appraisal business.Work has already begun on the sprawling Village at Avon shopping and residential complex on the east side of town and the hills north of Interstate 70. The first section that wil open will be the shopping mall that will include two big “box stores” -the Home Depot and a Wal-Mart – each more than twice the size of the existing Avon store.Angel said small businesses in Avon will need help coping with the opening of the two megastores.”The small business folks have to realize that sometimes they have to adjust their business accordingly and they may need some counsel,” said Angel, who is semi-retired and works as a sales representative at the Vail Daily. “It’s very important that small-business owners understand how to adjust accordingly when big boxes come in.”The Town Council has also long considered sprucing up west Avon with a pedestrian mall called the “Town Center,” which would run from the Avon Library and behind the Seasons buildings to the nearby roundabout.But the plan, also known as Avon’s “Main Street,” has stalled because the town doesn’t have funds to build it and has so far been reluctant to ask developers to bear the cost.”I do think there’s a way for the Town Center to pay for itself,” Sipes said. “I don’t think it should be a burden on the taxpayers, but what we want to is correct mistakes before opportunities are lost.”Sipes said that Avon should monitor construction of the Village at Avon and other projects so the town isn’t divided into isolated commercial districts.”We should make sure the connections to the Village of Avon are right so we don’t end up with three different towns,” Sipes said.Sipes said Avon should strongly consider being involved in the gondola, too.”If a guest were to come here and feel like that they’re being taken from Avon to go skiing, I think that’s a benefit,” he said. “But I hope it’s something we wouldn’t have to go to the taxpayers about.”

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