City, county join forces on plan

Residents to be asked to serve on advisory groups

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— City and county officials say they've learned the hard lesson from Steamboat Springs' effort to revise its Community Development Code.

The effort has taken too long five years and counting, city officials have said.

Representatives of the city and county met Thursday to refine the schedule for updating the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan, which addresses the city and approximately 3-mile region outside of the city limits.

The scope of this plan covers issues such as transportation and growth. It defines broader policy guidelines than the city's codes, explaining how the city should grow.

Because the city has asked the public to come to so many years of meetings on the CD Code, city and county officials are hoping this process can run more efficiently with a defined end in sight.

"We burnt out the public with so many meetings and no end to the meetings," said City Councilman Ken Brenner. "That's the real tragedy."

The area plan

The area plan is used along with the CD Code by the city when it reviews development applications and makes policy decisions. While the code may be explicit about developers' rights and responsibilities, the community plan also holds legal weight and its language can be used to justify the approval or rejection of a development application.

"When I'm reviewing a plan that's inconsistent with the goals of the community plan, if I state an objection based on the community plan, it's defensible in a court of law," Brenner said.

The county uses it to plan for the area within the 3-mile radius around the city, which includes the West of Steamboat area.

"We as a commission feel if we have urban development, we should have it in urban growth areas," County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

The process

The Area Plan Coordinating Committee consists of city and county managers, city and county planning staff members, two City Council members, a county commissioner and planning commissioners.

Government representatives say beyond those members, however, the development of the area plan should depend heavily on the input of community members.

The coordinating committee has identified 10 issues that will be addressed by 10 groups. These groups will be composed of area residents.

The city and county will sign people up for those groups at a kick-off barbecue, scheduled for September.

Along with members of the public, a city or county planning department member will staff each group, as well as a planning commissioner, a City Council member and a county commissioner.

Members of the public also will help draft the request for proposals for a consultant to do some of the more technical work on the plan.

The city and county each budgeted $50,000 this year for the consultant. But city Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg said she doesn't think $100,000 will cover the expense of the process.

Some of that extra cost may come in preparing the community for growth statutes city and county officials say they think may be addressed in the 2002 state Legislature, Monger said.

The request for proposals is slated to go out at the end of November, Brenner said. After the RFP is sent back, the working groups will continue to focus in on their issues. The plan should be completed in about 14 months, according to the groups' schedules.

The bulk of the work should begin by October, Brenner said.

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