Vail Daily letter: Mistake with Avon permits
July 24, 2010
On Thursday, July 15, I received an e-mail from the town of Avon that we were invoking a temporary suspension of building permits.
This is occurring because the town Planning and Zoning Commission has made a recommendation of approval of the new town-wide development code. This new code has been in the works for over a year.
There is language in the existing town municipal code that states when a recommendation is made to amend the zoning code, no building permits can be issued for one year that would be prohibited under the new amendments.
The Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as the Avon Town Council, were not informed of this building permit suspending section. Commission members have said they would not have made the recommendation had they known it would trigger the suspension. Two days after the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation, town staff informed us of the suspension. The commission’s recommendation was made with additional points which I have still not seen.
A mistake has been made. There is no reason to have a building permit suspension in the midst of the worst recession that most of us have ever seen. Developed property and undeveloped property owners are now at risk if they want to build or remodel.
Until this new code is approved or denied, their plan has to comply with the new code. This new code has not been reviewed thoroughly. There are sections that could make development on existing lots difficult, if not impossible.
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This new code was to update, clarify and make things easier to interpret. It does much more than this. If approved without changes, nonconforming uses will be created on many existing properties. Existing building height, shape, size and exterior finishes could all make a home or commercial property non-conforming. Property access standards will change to require special permission from the town staff. Having multiple nonconforming properties will make alterations or redevelopment more costly for owners and the town.
A presentation of the legal issues regarding taking of property rights was made by the town attorney for both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council.
I am very concerned that instead of clarifying the code, as was the original intent, property owners will have many more restrictions and cost than what they reasonably expected.
The suspension of building permits creates a sense of urgency for the council to approve the new code. This development code is too important to the town of Avon to be rushed.
Three years ago, I wrote to the paper to voice my opposition to give the Avon Town Council the right to sell town-owned land. This ballot question failed, and a sale of town land still requires voter approval. Now I am writing to inform the citizens of a suspension and changes to the development code.
The Avon Town Council will be having a meeting on Tuesday, July 27. Decisions that affect architecture, access, heights, uses of all property in town may be made. Public comment is always welcome during community and citizen Input.