Village at Avon seeks more residential density in town core; Town Council not favorable
AVON — In a sign-of-the-times request, Village at Avon owners are seeking changes to their planned unit development, requesting less commercial requirement in an effort to build more residences.
The Village at Avon, commonly known as Traer Creek, is a 1,780-acre planned unit development in the area surrounding exit 167 of Interstate 70. In its current form — approved in 1998 — the planned unit development can have as many as 2,400 units on it and 825,000 square feet of commercial development. As of now, 244 affordable housing units have been built within the planned unit development and about 350,000 square feet of commercial property has been built there.
Currently before the Avon Town Council are changes to a small area within the planned unit development known as planning area F, a 13-acre property located at the northwest intersection of Post Boulevard and East Beaver Creek Boulevard. Traer Creek would like to increase density allowance from 18 dwelling units per acre to 25 dwelling units per acre; increase maximum allowable residential development from 50 percent to 100 percent; and increase allowable building height from 48 feet to 58 feet for multifamily buildings.
The application to amend the planned unit development was started due to interest from a developer.
“That developer is no longer in the picture,” Dominic Mauriello, who has been hired to assist with the processing of the amendment, told the council on Tuesday, April 10. “But we’re proceeding on with this application because all of the things that we are proposing really do make sense.”
Mauriello pointed to vacant commercial space in Avon and the shuttering of big-box stores across the United States as evidence to support the claim that less commercial space makes sense for the development area.
“What this was envisioned as, in 1998, was what they called a power center, where your Best Buys, your Bed Bath & Beyonds and your Linens-N-Things would go,” Mauriello said. “As we’ve seen, they’ve kind of gone away.”
The issue has been before council two times in March and April and has been continued both times. The council is expected to examine the request again at its Tuesday, May 8, meeting.
An abridged version of the council is currently examining the issue, as a couple of council members have bowed out due to potential conflicts of interest that could arise in the future.
In 2015, the council revised its code of ethics to prevent council members and their spouses from taking work associated with a decision in which they participated.
In a prelude to the Village at Avon discussion, town attorney Eric Heil refreshed the memories of a few members of council who voted for the revised ethics standards.
“If you choose to go forward in participating in this development decision, then you and your spouse will be precluded from doing any work with this development during your term in office and six months after your term in office, from four years from the date of the decision,” Heil said.
“My husband sells real estate. Would it preclude him from being able to represent a buyer?” Mayor Jennie Fancher asked.
Heil informed Fancher that the ethics rules adopted in 2015 would indeed prevent Jennie Fancher’s husband, Gil Fancher, from representing a buyer interested in a property in planning area F.
“Then I am going to recuse myself,” Fancher replied.
Council member Scott Prince, a private mortgage banker, asked Mauriello if the Village at Avon was seeking the units to be for sale or for rent.
“We have no idea,” Mauriello responded.
“I will be recusing off this application,” Prince responded.
Council member Jake Wolf was not able to make the April 10 meeting, leaving four council members — the minimum required for a quorum — to examine the amendment request.
Those four members were split on the idea to rezone planning area F.
Council member Megan Burch said she was OK with the rezoning application.
Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Smith Hymes said she could live with the increase in building height but not with the increased density.
Council member Amy Phillips said while she does not have angst over the change in density, the change in height wasn’t sitting well with her. She also said she did not like the possibility of planning area F becoming 100 percent residential.
“I’m still struggling with the transition from Walmart to 100 percent residential being a good transition,” Philipps said.
Council member Matt Gennett, who works as a planner for the town of Silverthorne, said he needed more information to make a decision.
“Part of the problem I’m having is looking at planning area F in a vacuum,” he said. “I understand the retail market has changed, things that were viable 10, 20 years ago are different now, but things also change looking 25 years ahead. If everything close to the number of maximum density is built in this entire PUD — the 2,400 units — then town core is not really going to be the town core anymore.”
Town manager Virginia Egger said when the issue comes back before council on May 8, staff will try to include more analysis of the impact of the amendment.
In terms of area, it’s the county’s smallest conservation deal ever. In terms of location, it’s one of the county’s rarest acquisitions.