Village at Avon changes denied
The Avon Town Council put their foot down Tuesday and said “No’ to a batch of changes proposed to the Village at Avon by developers of the sprawling complex.
After more than two hours of testimony from residents who strongly opposed the changes, the Town Council unanimously rejected the developer’s plan to relocate a school, add more homes and build commercial space on the north side of Interstate 70, near the new full-diamond interchange.
“I don’t know how these people are ever going to get past this council,” Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds said of the developers.
Traer Creek, the development company that brought The Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter to Avon, asked the Town Council to delay the vote for another two weeks.
Before the Town Council even voted, Traer Creek’s vice president of development, Shane Bohart, who made the request, left the room on orders from company owner Magnus Lindholm, who did not attend the session. Bohart’s departure, which left no Traer Creek officials remaining at the meeting, caused an uproar from the 100-plus residents present.
“I know a second-grader who would know a trick like this,” Avon resident Tamra Underwood told the Town Council, referring to Bohart’s departure. “That was a double-dog dare for you to deny this tonight. They’re all telling you to do it. We’re asking you to do it. Just do it.”
Bohart said Wednesday the company was “surprised” by the Town Council’s decision.
“Unfortunately, the town disregarded Traer’s request to table this matter in order that Traer would have adequate time to address the town’s concerns,” Bohart said.
Traer Creek wanted to move a school from the north side of the interchange farther northeast to the opposite side of the Eagle River from Paddy’s Bar and Grill. Traer Creek also wanted to build 310 homes surrounding the school. At the original site, near the interchange, the company had proposed to build commercial space.
But the developer ran into problems because of the access to the river-side school. Traer Creek needed approval from the U.S. Forest Service to build a road to the building.
If the Forest Service denied the road, an additional road was suggested that would have traversed north of the school, winding through a number of switchbacks and steep terrain, but school district officials said the alternate route was unsafe and, therefore, unacceptable.
The school district and Traer Creek came to an impasse over the location of the school. But that stalemate wasn’t the only reason the Town Council denied the changes.
“I’ve tried to find the most positive thing about this project,” Avon Town Councilman Mike Brown said. “It’s been a partnership, and we’ve had to live with each other, but the partnership has been damaged and needs to be repaired.”
Town Council members are said they were bothered by Traer Creek’s reducing the size of a park to make room for extra commercial space north of the interchange. The Eagle County School District, meanwhile, remained opposed to the plan to move the school.
Back to “ground zero’
The resolution denying Traer Creek’s requested changes said the commercial area north of the interchange and the number of new homes proposed were too large.
“It seems the Council’s decision was based on a number of new issues that were first presented at Tuesday evening’s public hearing,” Bohart said. “Traer is confident it would have been able to satisfactorily address these new issues, as well as the outstanding school district issues previously communicated to Traer, if Traer had been given adequate notice of the Council’s new concerns prior to Tuesday’s hearing.”
Reynolds said Tuesday that when the project first came before Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission in 1998, he was overwhelmed. Reynolds was on the council at the time.
“It went past planning and zoning and straight to us,” Reynolds said. “And the project went on for four years, back and fourth. We fought it and fought it hard, and we were able to knock it down substantially.”
Other council members said they were troubled by the project from the beginning.
“As we’ve gone through the process, the project has gotten worse and worse,” Avon Town Councilman Ron Wolfe said.
The proposals denied Tuesday night went through several public hearings and the Town Council twice delayed a decision.
“Some of these developers wear the public out until the people stop coming to the meetings and the projects get passed,” said Kristi Ferraro, Avon resident. “Well, guess what? The developer’s not here tonight, so let’s deny it.”
Avon Town Councilwoman Debbie Buckley said that she had been waiting for an hour to deny the project. Following her statement, Town Councilman Mac McDevitt said: “I think a reset to ground zero is in order.”
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at email@example.com.