Retail on tap for Frisco 10-acre parcel?
FRISCO – Emotions have often run high on the “10-acre parcel,” but they’re likely to reach a crescendo tonight when the town council decides whether or not to allow retail development on the publicly owned land.Town manager Michael Penny will make the case for retail, citing the need to match Frisco’s revenues to the town’s increasing demand for services and amenities.”While the 9.4-acre parcel is a sizable parcel with numerous options for potential development, the site is also adjacent to Interstate 70, behind a significant existing retail development and in a core commercial zoning district,” Penny wrote in a memo to the council.The parcel in question is often called the 10-acre parcel, but it measures at 9.4 acres.”This decision will impact the town’s ability, not just tomorrow, but for decades to come, to provide for the community of Frisco,” Penny wrote.The majority of council members were tight-lipped Monday night on their positions on the issue.”I’m going to go to the meeting with as open and objective a mind as I can muster up,” Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen said. “I think the biggest challenge will be building some consensus around a solution. That looks terribly challenging at this point.”Councilmember Deb Helton said she was leaning toward the retail option.”We were elected to maintain a long-range vision, and part of that is trying to keep the town financially viable,” Helton said.Helton said that the parcel’s proximity to the interstate – along with its pollution and noise – made the parcel undesirable for affordable housing or a Colorado Mountain College (CMC) campus, two options that have received support from retail opponents.”I’m not for big-box-type retail development, but there are a lot of other options out there, depending on what we decide to move forward with. We can do a nice project out there that can benefit the town without bringing in big boxes,” Helton added.Councilmember Tom Looby said he’ll oppose the staff recommendation for retail in favor of his own proposal for a mixed-use development centered on a new CMC facility.”I think we could do a lot of analysis in a short period and determine small-scale retail uses that could work near a college campus and not have significant impact on other businesses in the town,” Looby said.Looby’s recommendation also includes the opportunity for additional uses, including a multipurpose center the college could share with the town and a limited amount of parks and recreation space.”I believe we have a unique, mountain-town character that I would like to try to preserve. Having a large-scale retail development will diminish that character and image,” Looby said.Councilmember Gary Runkle said he was leaning toward a decision, but he declined to disclose in which direction.”I’m going to listen to what everybody says and make up my mind at that point,” Runkle said. “I think we have to scratch to determine how we plan to fund the town in the future. I can’t totally predict the future, but in 10 to 15 years, we could definitely have a problem.”Runkle said that property tax hikes for general fund purposes don’t usually pass in Colorado communities. And without additional tax revenue from somewhere, “there are things such as the Nordic Village, that we as the town of Frisco would like to do, that probably just won’t happen,” he said.Councilmembers Dan Fallon and Bill Pelham also declined to take a side Monday night. Councilmember Rick Amico could not be reached for comment.Community members opposed to retail development on the 9.4-acre parcel are planning a protest immediately prior to the council meeting.”We’re going to have signs, and we’re going to march in front of town hall before the meeting,” said Doug Malkan of Breckenridge.Helton is expecting a large turnout to the meeting, mostly among those against retail development.”I talk to a lot of people who think retail is fine out there, but I don’t know how you get them to the meeting,” Helton said.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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