Council tables project, wants to work out details

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— After three and a half hours of deliberation Tuesday night, City Council tabled the 137-unit West End Village project off Downhill Drive to allow city staff to iron out some of the details.
The affordable housing project, which was the first development to be reviewed under the West of Steamboat Area Plan, will be revisited by council Dec. 19.
"This is too important a project to rush through," said Councilman Ken Brenner, stressing the need for staff to craft better language to guide the applicants. "I cannot remember a project that came in with so many questions."
Among the issues the city believed the applicants had left unresolved was the ability for residents to access a bus stop on U.S. 40, the city's ability to plow internal streets and the implementation of well-defined restrictions to make sure the affordable homes remain affordable despite market pressures.
The applicants, Steve Cavanagh of TCD and Rob Dick and Ellen Hoj of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation, have promised to offer 50 percent of the units to people earning less than 120 percent of the median income in Routt County. Because they were offering so many units to low-income buyers, the RALF board had hoped to receive some concessions from council to ensure the affordability of the project.
Despite attempts to keep the lots at about $35,000 each, Dick said that lot prices were already being pushed to $42,000 and could continue to rise if concessions are not made.
Hoj urged council to be "creative" in reviewing this project, as the applicants were working with a difficult site and need to keep costs down to ensure affordability. In that vein, Planning Commission had required only one internal sidewalk throughout the entire development when it approved the project three weeks ago.
Although the applicants had asked council not to table the project, they left the meeting hopeful that the delay will allow them to discuss the controversial issues with city staff and come to a fair compromise.
"It's better that it was tabled," Dick said. "Now we can deal with issues that will get worked out for the betterment of the project."
Keeping with the theme of affordable housing, council also worked on drafting an affordable housing policy that may include establishing a linkage program. A linkage program would necessitate that those people who create the need for affordable housing, such as the hotel owners who employ great numbers of people, be made to provide housing.

To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail asalzman@amigo.net

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