Routt commissioners could ax transfer of development rights
March 8, 2011
If you go
What: Transfer of development rights program update
When: 3 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Commissioners Hearing Room in the Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners is expected to make it official this afternoon and put the controversial growth management tool known as the transfer of development rights program in the deep freezer.
The transfer of development rights regulations would have conserved outlying rural parcels by shifting development potential to designated areas close to the city limits through a private sale of development rights between landowners.
The county had been drafting transfer of development rights regulations for more than two years. They were born of the real estate boom of 2007.
But after some contentious Routt County Planning Commission meetings in summer 2010, the commissioners took the draft regulations to small communities and neighborhoods to sample public opinion.
The hesitation came last summer after the Steamboat Springs City Council expressed concerns about the scope of the plan. It could have created up to 250 5-acre home lots ringing the city limits to the west and north, where development rights purchased away from more rural parcels could have been transferred.
The fate of the program was clear Jan. 6 after a joint meeting of the county commissioners and the Planning Commission. County Commissioner Doug Monger said the regulations needed to "die a quick death." Planning Commission Chairman Jay Gallagher said, "The more I study this, the more I think the county is not in the development business."
Still, the concept could be thawed again if a municipality designed a transfer of development rights program for a specific project and sought the collaboration of county government.
Planning Commissioner Andy Benjamin said in January that there are land parcels in the vicinity of Oak Creek that would work for such an agreement in the future.
County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said Monday that she doesn't want to encourage anyone contemplating a transfer of development rights in the near future. However, she has consistently said the regulations have been successfully adopted in other Colorado counties, but typically only when there was a mutual agreement between county government and a municipality that specifically wanted the regulations.
That was the case with Fruita and Mesa County, Longmont and Fort Collins with Larimer County, and Frisco and Keystone with Summit County, she said. In Keystone, a transfer of development rights from the rural county into a development at the base of the ski area gondola was an effective way to generate public benefit from a development permit, she added.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or e-mail tross@SteamboatToday.com
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