Steamboat Springs After two months of article-by-article reviews of the new Community Development Code, the Steamboat Springs City Council and Planning Commission will compare notes on the development review process tonight.
Arguably the biggest change to the current code, the development review process will likely be made somewhat easier to navigate in the new code. The current code is seen by both planners and developers as too vague on some of the more difficult planning issues facing the community. The idea in the new code is to have more "uses-by-right" as opposed to "conditional uses." Uses-by-right are immutable rights to use the land in a certain way, while conditional uses may be available for the site but must first be reviewed in a public hearing to determine if they are appropriate.
The current code, as far as some developers are concerned, has too many conditional uses that ought to be uses-by-right.
For instance, under the current code, a developer is not allowed by right to build condos in a multifamily residential area, though condos would make perfect sense in the multifamily zone, Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg said. It is a conditional use of the district and must be brought up in a public hearing, which can cause the use to be questioned.
Since the article-by-article review began, the planning department has proposed a new format for certain aspects of development review. Two new positions could begin with the adoption of the new code: a hearing examiner and a zoning administrator.
The hearing examiner would be a trained professional, possibly a land-use attorney, who would review the applications for their compliance with the code, the community plan and any other applicable plans.
The zoning administrator would essentially replace the Board of Adjustments, which deals with issues such as adding decks and making other variations on single-family homes and other already-existing structures.
The Planning Commission would then be able to look
toward more long-range planning issues such as code, ordinance and master plan development, Schulenberg said. But that doesn't mean the process would circumvent council entirely. All permits would be placed on the consent calendar and could be pulled up to be discussed in a full hearing.
The architectural review board, another new concept, will also be looked at tonight. The board would be made up primarily of architects and design professionals. The board would be responsible for reviewing the architecture of development projects to make sure they conformed with the city's architectural guidelines.
Under the current code, the architecture of every project is reviewed by Planning Commission and City Council. The new code proposes to reduce architectural review at the council and Planning Commission levels.