City reviews planning board

Commission may be reduced by two

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— Debates over developments in Steamboat Springs will likely be as spirited, but may not be as loud or as long.

City Council will vote tonight on whether to reduce the number of planning commissioners from nine to seven. The departure of Commissioners Vince Hooper and Joe Fogliano after the end of their three-year terms made the decision that much easier, said City Clerk Julie Jordan-Struble.

"My understanding is that nine people is not working so they needed to try something different," Jordan-Struble said.

Planning commissioners are appointed by the Steamboat City Council.

The city charter allows anywhere from five to nine commissioners. The city planning department had already been discussing the possibility of reducing the number of commissioners in conjunction with the new Community Development Code.

Three commissioners' terms were up at the end of March. And while Kathi Meyer decided to re-up for another term and was voted the new chairperson of the commission to boot, Fogliano and Hooper each decided this was his last term.

Meyer said dropping two commissioners may make the process of development review go more smoothly.

"I think right now under our new format we've tried to streamline meetings," she said. "When we had nine it sometimes took longer."

The old format, scrapped about a year ago, called for individual comments from each of the commissioners, resulting in discussions that could be redundant and time-consuming. With less commissioners and a new process, the commissioners may be able to get through development review more efficiently and get to larger policy issues such as the CD Code.

Meyer said the fewer commissioners will still represent the residents of the city well.

"I think seven is a good number," Meyer said. "We represent a broad spectrum within the community."

Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg has continually stressed the importance of the Planning Commission as more of a policy-making body rather than a group primarily concerned with development review.

Shelley Pastachak, the former chairperson of the commission, said she was stepping down from that post in part to give someone else a chance.

She will, however, remain on the commission.

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