Steamboat Springs Elected officials offered clear direction Monday for the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update, saying they opposed growth caps and do not support creating a bypass for Lincoln Avenue.
The Steamboat Springs and Routt County planning commissions met to finish their input on recommendations on the plan update.
Then the City Council and county commissioners met to offer their input, which strayed little from the direction the planning commissions took.
Consultant Clarion and Associates will use the officials' input in writing a draft of the plan.
The most heated discussion of the day was Clarion and Associates' suggestion of managing the community's growth by including a growth control mechanism in the plan.
About 40 residents showed up at the council and commissioner meetings, many to speak for, or against, growth controls.
Consultant Ben Herman outlined four options:
n Set up a system that allows growth according to what infrastructure can support.
n Monitor the growth rate and use built-in triggers if certain growth rates are exceeded.
n Implement a growth cap by regulating the number of building permits allowed.
n Do nothing.
The Planning Commission said a growth cap would be problematic and would likely require community-wide voter approval. Others said such a cap could have harmful effects on the economy and efforts to create affordable housing.
"I am very uncomfortable with growth caps," City Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer said. "I am very concerned about affordable housing. I am concerned about making sure there is some place the firemen, nurses and schoolteachers can live. I don't want this to be a community of just millionaires, and I am very concerned that is what will happen."
The planning commissions also said they wanted to continue to support existing planning tools, ensure adequate public facilities and find ways to put incentives in place to encourage infill and affordable housing.
The City Council and county commissioners also balked at a growth cap.
People should "be able to come here and have an opportunity to grow and prosper," County Commissioner Dan Ellison said. "I have a problem really when we get on the stop growth type of attitude. "Like many of the other members have indicated, I have problems setting specific caps on growth. I don't think it is very good."
The consultants predict if growth continues between 2.2 and 3.4 percent annually, the city will hit build-out in 15 to 20 years.
The consultants came up with suggestions after community working groups labored for more than a year to address key issues in the plan.
The suggested directions also were based on findings from a community-wide questionnaire asking residents to weigh in on issues involving everything from land management to historic preservation to capital facilities.
Both of Monday's meetings were peppered with public comment both for and against growth controls.
A few members from the Yampa Valley Construction Trade spoke out against growth caps saying it would take away jobs from construction, the largest industry in Steamboat.
"If construction gets cut, get ready to cut your city and county budgets," association President John Shively said. "How many employees would lose their jobs, homes and maybe families? A lot of these people are going to have to leave this town."
Stuart Orzach said the boards were hearing from vested interest groups and that the growth rate in Steamboat is much higher than the national and state rate. He said the construction industry is still recovering from the hangover of the last growth boom that started in the late 1990s.
He urged the council and commissioners to listen to what the working groups said and what the survey showed.
"All of these ideas to manage growth properly are wonderful," he said.
Herman told the planning commission that the consultants wanted the boards' input so the consultants could avoid putting directions in the final plan that the two governments did not have the political will to support.
The other major point of contention was the consultants' recommendation to build a Yampa or Howelsen Bypass as new growth continues.
Both boards said they were not ready to go in that direction fearing the impact it would have on downtown Steamboat business and Yampa Avenue.
Instead, the board members suggested improvements along U.S. Highway 40 and at the intersection of 13th Street to help ease congestion. Members also pushed for creating incentives for residents to use alterative transportation.