Village at Avon: Following the construction project
When Chris Neuswange asked when and where the next Village at Avon Design Review Board meeting would take place, he was told the meetings were private.Neuswanger, who owns a business in Avon, said he wants to follow the project where the developers in July put a 150-foot tall flagpole that caused such a public fuss.But officials at Traer Creek LLC., the developers of the Village at Avon, told Neuswanger that the design review board is a private entity and therefore not subject to the Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.”I believe that board should have open meetings and be accountable to the public,” said Neuswanger, who lives in Singletree. “Their decisions are highly visible in the valley. What goes there affects everybody.” The flagpole, as with anything built in the Village at Avon, doesn’t need the approval of the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission. The Village at Avon, the largest retail development in Eagle County, got its own design review board as part of a 1998 annexation and development agreement with the town of Avon. The project is scheduled to have 650,000 square-foot of retail and 2,400 homes.”The Village at Avon’s DRB, a five-member advisory board, is similar to any other private DRB such as Mountain Star and Beaver Creek,” said Tambi Katieb, director of the town of Avon’s community development department. Terry Smith, a member of the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission sits on the Village at Avon’s design review board.”The best way to keep track of what is going there is to call and ask if there are any active building permits,” said Katieb. The Village at Avon board reviewing a partial plan for a parking structure for the new office and retail building that will go next to Wal-Mart.Neuswanger, who said he sat through 40 hours of meetings before the annexation, said it never occurred to him that the design review board meetings would be closed.”The town abdicated far much too control, and that is extremely unfortunate,” Neuswanger said. “But the developer should be responsive to public input. He seems not to have a concern whatsoever.”Magnus Lindholm, manager of Traer Creek LLC, said he has no obligation to open the design review board meetings to the public. The board meets at the Traer Creek office in Avon when they need to review a new project or make a decision.”It’s not mandatory,” he said. “But I need to ask our lawyer about it.”I don’t want to get into an argument,” Lindholm added. “There is a democratic way and we went through it. When we did the annexation the town hall was full. They were aware. The council then voted 6-0 for the annexation and the separate DRB.”Scott Hunn director of a design review administration, which works with design review boards for Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead and Red Sky Ranch, said it is unusual how the town of Avon structured the Village at Avon’s design review board. “It’s unfortunate that the Village at Avon was able to create its own design review board outside the town’s regulations,” Hunn said. “It’s a large development with a lot of impact.”Avon town Manager Larry Brooks said he expects to get plans for the rest of the Village at Avon earlier and he will show them to the town Council.”They have expressed an interest in seeing them periodically,” Brooks said. “So it will be on our agenda.”Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at email@example.com.