Community plan questioned

Members working toward completion

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— City Planner Tom Leeson asked the City Council on Tuesday night how many dwellings it wanted to see in the area west of Steamboat.

The question was not intended for the Steamboat Springs City Council to answer. It is just one of the questions council members and residents are being asked to answer as the city and county work toward completing the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update.

Leeson, who will give more than a dozen presentations to local organizations this month, highlighted some of the more pressing questions asked in the plan's key choices and direction packet.

Leeson told the council that much of the plan followed the vision of the original area community plan created in 1995.

But one key difference is the extra 200 acres added into the area west of Steamboat.

Leeson said a geographic information systems (GIS) analysis showed more land than what originally was planned for when the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was approved in 1999. The plan targeted 1,000 acres for 2,400 dwelling units.

The question remains on how the additional 200 acres will impact the plan. Leeson said it could lead to less density in the area and keep the same number of homes.

Or the density could remain the same and 1,300 more homes could be built, which would extend Steamboat's overall build-out to 20,000 people and provide more affordable housing units.

Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner asked if there was a way for the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan to find a balance between the two choices, which she said varied from suburban sprawl to Old Town density.

Leeson also mentioned the controversial question of how to solve the bottleneck at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue. Leeson said traffic capacity at that area would be reached by 2005 if growth continues west of Steamboat.

Several choices are presented in the packet: The city can do nothing; it can create an alternative route using either Yampa Street or Howelsen Parkway to bypass the intersection at 13th Street; or it can use a multifaceted approach that includes a bypass, increased public transit and limited growth in certain areas.

Councilman Bud Romberg said the packet should clarify that a bypass using Yampa Street would mean changes for the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

The library sits at the corner of 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue, and the board is planning to build a new 24,000-square-foot library in the adjacent plot of land.

"My guess is if you do that it would have a drastic effect, at least what we saw from the preliminary plan of the library," Romberg said.

A public meeting will be held April 14 to present the key choices and findings and for residents to give feedback. A four-page questionnaire is attached to the packet, and residents are asked to fill them out and return them by April 25.

From there, the consultants will start working on a draft of the area community plan, which is expected to be finished by May or early June.

This summer, the plan is expected to go through the public review process.

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