Steamboat Springs For more than a year, Reed and Paula Stephenson used an area plan to develop an affordable housing project west of Steamboat Springs.
To the couple's surprise, the Routt County Board of Commissioners used the same plan the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan to reject their proposal to add 25 cabins to their Riverbend Roadhouse site.
"Given the feedback we have been given from day one, this is a complete shock we were flat out denied," Paula Stephenson said. "This whole time we used the area plan as a tool to put this project together."
On Tuesday, the county board denied the Stephensons' plan to build 25 cabins on their property because the area plan calls for "limited redevelopment" for the property.
Commissioners also said development cannot occur on the Stephensons' property because the area plan calls for growth to occur in this area when development is stretched to this part of the county.
The restaurant and property is west of the Steamboat Golf Club in the 26000 block of U.S. 40. Growth has not reached this area yet.
"This would be a great plan if it was right next to Steamboat Springs," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "But right now this doesn't fit. This adds to the sprawl the county is trying to avoid. In 50 years, this might be a great thing."
The couple was proposing to build the 500-square-foot cabins on 4.8 acres of land about 19 feet apart.
The couple was proposing the development to supplement its restaurant and also to meet a need in the community.
"We are looking at this as an affordable housing project," Reed Stephenson said. "We want to create a small community for our employees and professionals. This would be transitional housing for professionals coming into Steamboat Springs."
The couple said the cabins would be geared toward single people but could be rented by young families with a child. Rent would be in the neighborhood of $650 per month.
The couple said the proposal was "limited development" because the site has the potential for 40 residential units. The Stephensons said they worked closely with the county's Planning Department to make sure the plan conformed to the area plan.
"We thought we were all on the same page," Paula Stephenson said. "We didn't expect the reaction we got today."
The couple thought its obstacle would be appeasing concerns of neighbors.
To ease this concern, the couple planned to ban pets and outside storage. Restrictions would also be in place for noise and parking.
In April, the Routt County Planning Commission approved of the proposal on the condition the couple reduce the number of cabins to 21.
The commission did not consider the area plan, which the county has adopted as part of its master plan.
"I can't believe Planning Commission did not consider this," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "I think what you are proposing is admirable, but the area plan calls for limited development."
Stahoviak said the proposal belongs in an urban setting because it will require urban services, which include law enforcement.
"Even though I feel this is a good project, it is not in compliance with the West Steamboat Area Plan," Stahoviak said. "I can't support it at this time."
Because of the board's decision, the couple feels its only recourse is to take the county to court.
At this time, the couple said that scenario is unlikely.
"We have wasted enough time on this," Paula Stephenson said.