Zoning map revealed

Some properties do not conform with city proposal


— Hot off the presses, the city's new zoning map hit many of the crowd who filled the community center Tuesday night close to home.

The map, which was drawn up by Planner Tracey Hughes, was presented to the public for the first time Tuesday.

Some of the approximately 65 audience members who had gathered to discuss the city's new Community Development Code quickly found their neighborhoods or developments on the map and checked them against the zone's allowable uses. That spurred a round of discussion on the possible uses of certain pieces of property.

The hottest topics included zoning of mobile home parks and the area at the base of the ski mountain, and the restrictions on short-term rentals.

Hughes said she did her best to preserve current zoning, without necessarily taking into account the actual use of a piece of property. That means that a number of the properties in the city do not conform with the new zoning map, as some existing properties did not on the current map.

Among those properties that oftentimes do not fit their zones are some of Steamboat's mobile home parks, which are in zones like "Commercial Old Town," not "Mobile Home."

City Councilman Jim Engelken said he was disturbed by what he feels is a misrepresentation and would allow trailer park owners to change the use of the land after selling it without going to the city to obtain permission for a rezone.

Engelken said he thinks zone boundaries should be delineated based on their actual uses, not their previous zoning definitions.

Tracey Hughes said the city had looked at the option of zoning mobile home areas as such, but was dissuaded by a group of trailer park owners that didn't like the idea.

Developer Joe Brennan was concerned about the base of the ski area, where the city has eliminated the "Gondola-3" zone in favor of a "Resort Residential" zone and a Gondola-2 zone that mimics the old Gondola-3. That Resort Residential zone, he said, does not allow for the high density currently allowed there, making some current developments on the ski mountain fall out of conformity with the new code.

"Everything in the (Resort Residential) zone along the ski slope will be out of conformance because specifications don't lend themselves to what's already there," Brennan said.

Developments that are out of conformity with the new code, though they cannot be forced to change, would have to conform with the code if they ever went back to the city for a new development permit.

The planning staff, planning commissioners and City Council members also fielded comments from residents concerned about new restrictions, and the lack thereof, on nightly and short-term rentals.

Steamboat resident Barbara Hughes, who said she has short-term rentals in her neighborhood that often house loud vacationers, said she respects the vacationers' rights to have a good time, but feels that the rentals are not always appropriate for family-oriented neighborhoods. Because short-term rentals are allowed in a number of residential zone districts in the new code, she said she feels like comments she made in previous meetings were simply ignored by the city.

"Now we have to go back and have all of our covenants changed if we want to protect ourselves," she said. "What did we waste our time for in all those previous meetings."

Resident Robin Craigen said he thought the restrictions on rentals were too tight and that the lodging community had done a study on nightly rentals showing that the restrictions, including a restriction maintaining that no nightly rental unit can be used to accommodate more than one person per 300 square feet of gross living space, were not needed.

Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg said the planning department is currently studying the effects of the short-term rentals on neighborhoods to see if they will be allowed in all residential neighborhoods.

Both city staff and City Council members said they would take a further look at the short-term rental issue.


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