Planners approve ski jump

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The Routt County Planning Commission unanimously approved a five-year conditional use permit for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's summer training facility.

Rousing applause from athletes and ski jump supporters followed.

Several conditions were stipulated in the approval of Yampa Meadows LLC associate Ed MacArthur's facility, half a mile south of Steamboat Springs on U.S. Highway 40.

First, the facility must be reviewed every year by city planning staff. Ski jump activities must be done during the day; no lights can be constructed at the facility. A sight-buffering zone of cottonwoods is to be planted between the facility and U.S. 40 to prevent traffic from stopping on the highway to observe activities at the facility.

Before approval, there was concern about the impacts of the water activities on a nearby bald eagle nest. The Colorado Division of Wildlife typically calls for a half-mile buffer zone between an eagle's nest, but it made an exception for the facility under the condition that MacArthur work with the DOW if evidence of stress on the eagle habitat becomes apparent.

There was concern that the nearby Yampa River's flood plain would bring about safety issues when waters rise in the spring. However, a study revealed that the floodwater would not reach the ski jump area.

Three large piles of gravel dug to build the ski lake remain on the training facility lot, but MacArthur said he would continue to work with planners to find a way to remove them, or find a use for the gravel.

Sarah Floyd, director of athletics for the Winter Sports Club, said out-of-town groups that wish to use the facility would be limited to about 12 to 15 people.

Before closing the issue, Planning Commission member Ken Brenner said he wanted the commission to think about signing a letter and sending it to the Steamboat Springs City Council to consider building a waterski jump near Howelsen Hill because it is a place where more spectators can gather, much like in Park City, Utah.

n The Planning Commission also unanimously approved the construction of a fire station in the Stagecoach Area.

Oak Creek Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Wisecup said the station was needed because of significant growth in the area coupled with high home insurance rates for Stagecoach residents. He said the new station would cut 10 minutes off response time because firefighters wouldn't have to travel from the Oak Creek Fire Station.

Wisecup said much of the fire station would be constructed by volunteers, and would cost half as much as the North Routt Fire Station.

"You guys should be proud of that," Planning Commission member Fred Nichols said.

Nichols proposed that signage should be placed on Routt County Road 16, notifying traffic of the possibility of fire trucks entering the road.

n The Planning Commission commended planners on a land preservation subdivision planned near the intersection of Twentymile Road and U.S. 40 near Hayden.

"It seems the light went on for LPS," Planning Commission member John Ayer said. "It seems you captured the sensibility of what LPS was intended to be."

Other commission members agreed that the way the cluster homes were planned with the large amounts of open space was ideal. Still, a few concerns were stated. No decision was made on the subdivision.

The 2,345 acres owned by Grassy Creek Ranch and Cattle LLC is directly in the migration path of several mule deer and elk herds. Though about 2,000 acres of the subdivision's land is dedicated as open space, several commission members wanted to know what the developers' plans were to keep that migration possible and asked them to bring a representative from the DOW with them to the next meeting.

Concerns were raised about the conditions for the roads and the accessibility of emergency vehicles. Hayden Planning Commission member Donna Hellyer said she wanted to make sure the developers worked with the West Routt Fire Protection District to ensure they see eye to eye on safety and accessibility concerns.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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