Steamboat Springs There is no question that Steamboat Springs will grow. Where the question lies is how the city and county will manage that growth.
Questions such as whether residents want to someday see a growth cap like the one in Boulder; if they want the west of Steamboat area to become the hub of affordable housing; and if future traffic congestion could be eased by one-way streets or bypasses will be addressed.
Those are the questions the City Council, county commissioners and almost 100 community members will re-examine and try to answer in the next few months as they work on updating the Area Community Plan.
The original plan adopted in 1995 was the vision of where the community wanted to go, the update will tell the community what it needs to get there, city Planning Director Wendie Schulenburg said.
Adopted in 1995, the current plan has become the blueprint for all development that passes through the city, something Schulenburg said her department uses daily.
"Every time we review a current planning development, like Chadwick or the Grand Summit, one of the requirements is for it to be in consensus with the community plan," Schulenburg said.
Former City Council president Kevin Bennett, who was involved in the creation of the original community plan, said the open space drivers see coming down Rabbit Ears Pass is a byproduct of the community plan.
"When it came to growth, it gave us a hard line to the south. It offered the ability to define that line. It gave us a platform to go out and acquire open space," Bennett said.
And smaller planning matters such as the lumber fae on buildings, landscaping and streetlights were all defined in the plan as items the community would like to see in Steamboat.
After a year and a half of work, 60 public meetings and more than $125,000, the first community plan was finalized. Although other plans and documents had been used before the 1995 community plan, its creation was the first time the city had a cohesive plan on where and what the community wanted to see in the future.
"It was important because there wasn't any plan carefully documenting where we wanted to grow, how we wanted to grow and how we didn't want to grow as well as transportation, the environment and other issues," Bennett said.
With the help of Clarion Associates, consultants whom the city and county hired for $275,000, the community plan update will include more technical data and be extended to a 10- to 15-year outlook.
Schulenburg said most of technical analysis would come with the traffic studies making sure intersections could handle added growth and targeting areas that would have the most impact.
Bennett predicts the intersection of 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue as a major point of interest during this round of community planning. With plans for increased growth to the west of Steamboat, Bennett sees already congested traffic spots like the bottleneck near the library as only worsening.
Current City Council President Kathy Connell said the city has looked at solutions like creating one-way streets or building a bypass around town via Twentymile Road.
But it's a pill Steamboat's not ready to take for its traffic aliment, she said.
Although the technical analysis, or putting numbers behind the plan's vision, is the main component of the update, Schulenburg said policy could also change.
"Other planning issues have transpired since 1995 do we want to consider some kind of growth management, require a stricter enforcement be in place, think about a growth cap," Schulenburg said.