‘Tallest building’ plan sparks lawsuit
What could end up as the tallest building in Avon has sparked a lawsuit by a group of homeowners who say the town violated its own ordinances when it gave preliminary approval to the project last month.
The suit, filed by the Avon Center’s Homeowners Association, opposes the Town Council’s Feb. 10 approval for a residential development on vacant property next to the Seasons at Avon building – commonly known as Lot 61.
“The approval … potentially permits the developer to build the tallest building in the town in the middle of the town center, an area designated in the Avon Town Center Implementation Plan as a pedestrian mall ‘where people can walk and see people face to face,'” according to the complaint.
The association is asking for a court injunction barring the town from issuing a building permit to the project developer, IDG 3, LLC. The town has until March 29 to reply to the complaint.
As proposed, the bottom floor of the building would become the town’s new transportation center, replacing the existing concrete shelter located on Benchmark Road. There would be residences in the rest of the building.
According to the plan, the building would be 105 feet tall. But features such as elevator penthouses, chimneys and other architectural features could exceed that height.
There are several tall buildings in Avon, including the Avon Center – the building in which the suing parties live, said Town Councilman Mac McDevitt, who voted to approve the development. The building is so tall because the transportation center would take up the bottom floor, he said.
“It’s unfortunate that buildings have to be so high to get them to pay off in this economy,” McDevitt said.
He approved the project because the new transportation center would be closer to the dormant railroad tracks that run through town, McDevitt said.
“I believe long-term we need to have that so that we can have access to transportation corridors, i.e., if trains ever run back there again,” he said.
In a statement released by IDG 3, the company points out that the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission approved the project unanimously.
“The new development agreement conforms to the newly adopted Avon Town Center Master Plan,” according to the statement. “It is a project that is poised to act as a pivotal mixed-use project to enhance the vitality and economy of Avon.”
In addition to concerns about the height, homeowners allege the application was incomplete. It did not include information such as building elevations, floor plans, an environmental impact report or a preliminary landscape plan – information required to be a part of the application packet.
“We find it just totally appalling that they broke their own zoning bylaws,” said George Pakozdi, president of the Avon Center homeowners board.
“The zoning regulations are in place to protect the public,” added Kimberly Lord, attorney for the association. “And the fact that the town went ahead and approved something that didn’t comply with its own criteria is what we are challenging.”
The seven-member council approved the development application by a 4-2 vote. Councilwoman Debbie Buckley and Councilman Peter Buckley voted against the application. The town’s charter precludes Mayor Buz Reynolds from voting on any issue unless it is required to break a tie.
McDevitt declined to comment on the suit. Reynolds also declined to comment on the suit other than to say, “It’s just an unfortunate situation.”
But Avon’s town attorney, John Dunn, said the lawsuit’s allegations are baseless.
“The Avon Center folks don’t seem to understand that when the town enters into a development agreement and creates vested property rights, as it was doing in this case, the procedure is different,” Dunn said. “And that procedure was fully complied with.”