Steamboat Springs The Park Place development, planned for the site of the former Routt Memorial Hospital, is one step closer to fruition.
City Council approved on first reading an ordinance granting a major development permit and a rezoning for the development.
Developer Herald Stout's proposal, recommended unanimously for approval by the city Planning Commission last month, included building a total of 26 homes around a community park. The site will contain 14 single-family lots, eight condominium units and four townhome units on about 4 acres. The single-family homes, said Stout, would be designed under covenants that would enforce certain style guidelines.
The council amended the proposal because of density concerns voiced both by residents of the community surrounding the old hospital and council members themselves.
The Planning Commission had approved a .5 floor area ratio (FAR) for the single-family lots, but the council voted 5-1 to amend that number to .45. The FAR calculates the acceptable size of the floor area for all above-ground surfaces in a home. A .5 FAR would mean that the total floor area of the building and garage would need to be half the size of the lot area. With the .5 FAR, in a two-story home built on a 6,000-foot lot, the total floor area of both the first and second floors would have to equal 3,000 feet.
Councilman Jim Engleken was worried about the density of the single-family homes, referring to a letter the council received from hospital neighbor Karolynn Lestrud.
Lestrud thinks the density of the development would be out of line with the rest of Old Town. At the Planning Commission meeting, Lestrud claimed the average lot area (different from floor area) in Old Town Steamboat is about .2, and therefore the Park Place development's density would exceed that of the surrounding lots. The council concurred and voted to amend the FAR.
Although Stout was at first wary of that amendment because he was entitled to the .5 FAR under the development code, he eventually agreed to the smaller size. Stout, however, is worried that the reduced FAR will limit his vision for the property.
"It can potentially impact adversely the creativity of architectural design on the house," he said.
Although Councilman Bud Romberg voted against the downsizing of the FAR, he understood the council's concerns.
"By going to .45 the development will probably look about the same as the existing neighborhood," he said.
Another contentious issue brought up at the Planning Commission meeting and passed by the council was the use of an easement to allow pedestrians access through the property. The sidewalk easement would run through the property, allowing people access to a bus stop on Park Avenue. Stout had been concerned about liability issues related to the easement, because it would make the owners of the lots responsible for any accidents on the property. Stout himself is planning on buying one of the single-family lots.
Stout said that there are a number of interested parties who have already contacted him about buying lots. The selling prices will depend on how much of the old hospital can be recycled and reused and how much it costs to demolish the hospital, he said.
The project will go before council for a second reading before Stout can receive final approval.
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