First draft of area plan released

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— Working groups involved in the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update process are putting their red marks on a first draft.

About two weeks ago, each of the 10 working groups received the chapter of the plan addressing its focus area and was asked to make recommendations, city planner Tom Leeson said.

Those recommendations will be taken back to the city- and county-hired consultants, Clarion Associates, and worked into a second draft.

That draft should be finished by the beginning of December, Leeson said, with public review starting in October.

For more than a year, the working groups have been instrumental in developing the plan update. Each group addressed a key issue in the plan, such as land use, economic sustainability, historic preservation or growth management.

Ron Roundtree, the co-chairman of the land use group, said the philosophy in the plan's first draft was in keeping with what the working group and community input had recommended, but the group wanted to see more direction and specifics.

"We want an area plan that gives our community leaders the teeth and direction they need to actually make things happen," Roundtree said.

Ben Beall, the co-chairman of the transportation working group, said his group had made some significant changes to the plan.

The working group was against the consultant's recommendation to turn a section of U.S. Highway 40 from Third Street to the mountain into a six-lane highway. The group never discussed that option, Beall said.

The group also reorganized the priorities of the community's transportation needs, ranking pedestrian friendliness first, transit improvements second and roadway improvements third.

A roadway connection between 13th Street and Yampa Avenue was another item the group wanted out of the plan.

The group did approve of recommended improvements for the stretch of highway between 13th Street and Elk River Road and from Elk River Road to the Steamboat II area.

Larry Oman, who sits on the housing working group, said the main changes his group made was to detailed wording, with members afraid that changes in wording could change the meaning of what they had recommended.

Dace Carver, co-chairwoman of the growth management working group said they did not get a chance to meet together and are sending comments in the city individually.

Leeson said the public forum in October will be similar to the one held a few months ago before the consultants started working on the draft. Residents will have a chance to attend three sessions on the plan's key issues. The public will have a chance to give feedback at the end of the meetings.

Because the working groups are still making their comments, Leeson said, the first draft is not ready for public review.

The area plan update would create planning policies for the city and county to follow and could change zoning, increase regulations, create incentives and modify the Community Development Code.

The consultants have received directions from the working groups and a community-wide questionnaire asking residents to weigh in on issues involving everything from land management to historic preservation to capital facilities.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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