Steamboat Springs The residents of Hilltop Homes could very well be creating Steamboat's first model for owning affordable homes and land in mobile home parks.
But that model is an imperfect one under city code.
A list of variances, some brought before the city staff three days ago, caused the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission to table the Hilltop Mobile Homeowners Association's application to divide a former mobile home park into 17 single-family residential lots.
"It is a little disappointing," Karen Vail, president of the homeowners association, said of the decision that will lead to the application not reaching the City Council until late May.
"We are working against a couple of people trying to get their trailers sold before June. But we feel these are important enough issues that we're willing to go ahead and take the later date," she told the planners.
Late in 2000, the group of 17 mobile home owners came together to purchase the mobile home park above Steamboat Springs High School that owner Leland Harms had put up for sale.
Currently, the group is paying off a $675,000 loan for the entire lot, which means each homeowner pays about $300. If the subdivision passes council, the group will pay off their own loans and will own their own lots.
Vail said the homeowners association plans to keep the proposed subdivision, which had been a mobile home park for 30 years, targeted toward affordable housing.
Commissioner Dick Curtis said he regrettably moved to table the subdivision application, citing it was the second straight planning meeting where the commissioners had to come up with recommended motions of approval.
"It makes it very hard for us to make fair and equitable decisions. Both the staff and applicant have very valid reasons. But those items should be resolved prior to coming to Planning Commission," Curtis said.
The major noncompliance is that eight of the 17 proposed lots are smaller than the required zoning lot size. Four lots do not meet the moderate residential lot size of 8,000 feet and another four do not meet the mobile home lot size of 5,000.
But lot sizes were not the points of contention Thursday night. Late changes made by the applicants to landscaping, allowable structures and parking space requirements were left unresolved.
"Even though it is affordable, it has been a challenge to analyze and make recommendations on the many variance requests," City Planner Leif Myhre said.
Two days before the meeting, Myhre said he received the association's final landscaping plan. Staff records show the current lot configurations do not meet landscape setback requirements or screening and buffering requirements for individual lots.
Myhre said the city had little to no precedence for relaxing the landscape guidelines, and making allowances could set precedence.
Vail told the council that confirming to the landscape requirements would be a financial burden for some residents, who are in Steamboat's lower income bracket. And she could not understand why the subdivision needed to be screened with trees when others in the neighborhood were not.
The homeowners plan to return to the Planning Commission April 25.