Growth tops Stamey's priorities

New planning director started Monday

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— A brightly colored city-zoning map hangs directly across from Steve Stamey's desk.

It is the only item on Stamey's new office walls.

It is a wise choice for a man who took over as the Steamboat Springs' planning director Monday.

Stamey is becoming familiar with the city's zoning map, municipal codes and area plan as he faces what he says is Steamboat's biggest challenge: managing growth.

"That means a lot of different things for different people," Stamey said Wednesday morning.

Stamey sees a combination of tools for dealing with growth.

Stamey has experience with growing communities. For 17 years, he worked as the community development director at Estes Park. Before coming to Steamboat, Stamey worked as a planning director in Erie, a Front Range town that saw a plan that would have doubled its size, along with plans for a 320-acre golf course and 640-acre corporate center, during his tenure.

Stamey said he wanted to return to mountain resort planning, which led him to apply for the position vacated in November by former Planning Director Wendie Schulenburg.

Although Steamboat and Estes Park are somewhat different resorts, Stamey said they are similar in how they operate.

A longtime resident of Colorado, Stamey visited Steamboat before taking the job. He sees downtown and Old Town as some of the community's greatest assets. He also points to the Yampa River and the ski resort as valuable resources and sees the entrances to town as vital.

"Steamboat is a great community," Stamey said. "I hope to be able to continue to build on what has been done here."

One of the first tasks Stamey has been handed is reviewing the Community Development Code. His goal is a document that is clear, user-friendly and understandable. It is a reflection of how he sees the planning department.

"My personal background and approach is a pretty close connection with the community and user groups and neighbors," Stamey said. "(I want to) build a good customer service and user-friendly department, which can be tough when you are regulating."

Stamey is taking over the planning department in the middle of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update, an almost yearlong process that is combining community input from both the city and county.

Stamey has experience with merging local governments' planning processes.

In Estes Park, he helped create a joint town-county planning commission, comprehensive plan and development code.

The process was groundbreaking and had to go before the Colorado Legislature and took five years. It revised antiquated zoning and implemented environmental standards.

Stamey also has worked with affordable housing projects. Estes Park has a housing authority, which built and maintained affordable housing units.

From his experience, Stamey said affordable housing can only work if the community supports it financially. He said the Estes Valley had a program that gave developers incentive to build affordable housing by allowing more density. But no one from the private sector used the program.

"The end conclusion was if the community is serious about addressing housing issues, the community needs to participate," Stamey said.

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