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Frisco group rallying against development

JULIE SUTOR

FRISCO – Concerns over a proposed shopping center in Frisco may make their way to the ballot box, if a group of local residents has its way.

About a dozen Friscoites are mobilizing against the idea of a new development on 15 acres of land behind Safeway and Wal-Mart.

“We’re concerned about the wetlands, the noise, the sound, the sight, the traffic,” said Sydney Yuen, who lives near the site. “We’re talking to people all the time, and we’re getting more and more supporters – people saying, ‘Yes, we’ll be glad to help you.'”

Currently, Alberta Development has an exclusive negotiation contract with Frisco to examine the 9.4 town-owned acres.

The company has proposed a two-winged shopping center with national retailers, affordable housing and a stand-alone transportation building that could house the Summit Stage, thus encompassing the current Frisco Transfer Center and picking up the extra acreage.

Alberta has not submitted a development application or reached an agreement with the town about the purchase or lease of the land.

“We still don’t have a proposal from Alberta,” said Councilmember Rick Amico. “We don’t have anything concrete, and we don’t have anything to make a decision about yet. I think patience is a virtue here.

“Realistically, all we can do is try to control growth, because we can’t stop it,” Amico added.

Yuen questioned whether the kind of growth proposed for the parcel is necessary or beneficial to the town.

“This is a nice little town,” she said. “A lot of people come up here for the atmosphere and the flavor. We don’t need to compete with Denver. A lot of us have moved up here to get away from that environment. They don’t want all those big box stores in their front or back yard.”

The town originally purchased the land in 1996 for the purpose of commercial development, at the time, a new Wal-Mart.

At the same time, it bought an adjacent 11 acres to remain as open space and wetlands.

“This is not something new,” Amico said. “In my opinion, the land was purchased for the sole purpose of generating sales tax. People want their streets plowed, they want services to continue, they want special events.

“This town is not static. Buildout is still 10 years away. There are more people who are going to be moving to Frisco,” Amico added.

“I think that, at some point in time, that parcel is going to have to be developed because of the need for increased sales tax base,” said Councilmember Bill Pelham.

“But maybe a property tax needs to be looked at so we’re not so reliant on a sales tax that can go up and down with the economy.”

Yuen said that she and other residents hope that the issue will land on the November ballot so that Frisco voters can decide whether development should occur. They are planning to voice their concerns to the council at its next meeting on May 25.

“The way I look at it right now, Main Street is not doing really well,” Yuen said. “I just don’t feel this development would help Main Street at all.”

Barring council action, the group may organize a citizens’ initiative to bring the issue to the polls, Yuen said.

“It’s important for the community to be involved in this,” said Lori Husted, who owns a home in Crossroads Townhomes, near the proposed shopping center. “It should be the community’s choice, not the council’s choice.”

Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen said he supported the group’s right to organize against the development, but felt that a new shopping center would not necessarily be at odds with the best interests of the town.

“I think it’s important that we factor the entire community into this thing,” Zurbriggen said. “I have some issues, but I think we can do something that makes sense for that location.

“If this is to be, it has to be an integral part of the community. We have to figure out how to create traffic flows so that people who do get off the interstate for this development have reason to stay in Frisco and find other things that may be of interest to them,” Zurbriggen added.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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