‘Yes’ to negotiations
Frisco voters must be clear on what is being voted on in Tuesday’s Home Depot election. Like anyone voting “Yes,” the Summit Daily News is only endorsing the start of official negotiations between the town and the big box retailer. We are not endorsing giving Home Depot a blank slate to develop the 9.4 acres adjacent to Interstate 70. A “Yes” vote must come with the demand that Frisco, as owner of the property, aggressively negotiate and use the tremendous leverage it has. A “Yes” vote comes with the demand that Frisco define its vision for future development of the community’s few remaining open spaces before giving an ultimate OK.Ours is an endorsement only to continue the process.The town, which has consistently maintained it wants retail on the 9.4 acres, owns the land and controls the planning process. Not only does that mean it can set any and all ground rules for the development, it also means it can limit its impact, as well. Based on current zoning the town and its residents should hope for and expect the maximized benefits from a retail and commercial development.Opponents and proponents have speculated on traffic, environmental and business impacts. However, nothing is yet final. The town should demand what the majority of its population wants – low-traffic impact, low-environmental impact and low-business impact. To be more specific, if residents make it clear during the planning process that they want no additional traffic on Hawn Drive, planners surely can make that a reality.Town staff and members of the council must be forceful and assertive in all steps in the negotiating process. For example, the initial proposal by Home Depot includes $200,000 for the town for affordable housing. With deed-restricted housing being an admitted priority for the town, this request should increase through the negotiations. The town has said that Home Depot has yet to say “No” to any request, which means the town is likely not asking for enough. Why not $500,000 for affordable housing? Why not a million?Home Depot is a financial and business behemoth that will not back off of its profit line and margin, and Frisco should not back off any of its own interests, either. If the town finds it cannot maximize its gain and minimize the impacts a level acceptable to a majority of citizens, it should walk away from the table and seek better alternatives. The town will still own the land and its value will only increase. Some might see that as a waste of time and money, but it is the inevitable result of having voters decide on pursuing negotiations, and not having a town council make definitive decisions on development. Democracy is almost always a time consuming process, while capitalism isn’t – if you disagree, research Home Depot’s tremendous growth in the last five years compared to that of our local government.Growth, after all, is the issue. Frisco’s current council and staff are interested in growing the town beyond its current size. Before the ultimate “OK” is given, the town should communicate its vision for the following growth areas, and how Home Depot would affect them:n the 12-acre parcel at the base of Mount Royal, which currently is slated for housing and affordable housing;n the peninsula, which the town has deemed to be its most important tourist draw, along with Main Street;n Colorado Mountain College, which wants to move to 20 acres near Frisco, land that currently isn’t available. The request for U.S. Forest Land near Dillon Reservoir may be unrealistic; andn any annexation plans for the future.If the ballot initiative passes, Frisco must be aggressive in its negotiations, and make demands above and beyond Home Depot’s initial proposal – not, as some might suggest, to pacify the large number of those against this big box but to include them in the process. Without care and high standards, town officials will find that a bitterly divided citizenship is more costly than delaying the process until a reasonable accord can reunite the town.EDITOR’S NOTE: The question has been asked, will the Summit Daily gain financially from Home Depot locating in Frisco?The answer is the Summit Daily News has nothing financially to gain or lose in Tuesday’s vote. The newspaper does receive advertising revenues from Home Depot – weekly, we distribute Home Depot’s sales flyers for the existing stores in Avon and Evergreen. Home Depot’s advertising buy won’t change. It will continue exactly as it is now. The fact is if the newspaper was basing its position solely on the potential of additional advertising revenues, we would want some other commercial enterprise on the 9.4 acres.
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