Updating the area plan

City, county planning commissions provide their input

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— The two hours the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County planning commissions allotted Thursday for their discussion of the Community Area Plan Update were not nearly enough.

The two boards made it only halfway through the items on the meeting agenda before calling it a night.

The two boards discussed implementing environmental standards, finding a dedicated funding source for open space, creating historic preservation through a mix of regulations and incentives, the link between creating jobs, the demand for affordable housing and the need for infill and redevelopment.

Some of the more pressing issues -- a growth management rate, the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, an alternative transportation route around Lincoln Avenue and preserving community corridors and gateways -- were postponed until a July 7 meeting. The boards said two hours simply wasn't enough time to comment on nine issues.

The planning commissions will meet at noon on July 7. The City Council and Routt County commissioners also will meet that day to discuss the area plan update.

One of the topics that generated the most discussion Thursday was infill and redevelopment policies.

The plan's consultants, Clarion and Associates, said they need more direction on how far the community wanted to go with infill and redevelopment. The directions pointed to using density bonuses and expediting the review process to encourage developers to infill within the city.

County Planning Commissioner Ken Brenner said the plan should encourage density.

"Look at the scope and range of how to create a dense functioning society," Brenner said. "(European towns) have a density far beyond what we consider dense."

City Planning Commission Chair Kathi Meyer said the city has tried density bonus incentives, but they have not worked.

"Before we go down that road again, I want to make sure we know what we are doing," Meyer said.

The two commissions also talked about environmental standards. The discussion revolved around the need for different water body setbacks for different areas.

Meyer warned that implementing strict water body setbacks along Yampa Avenue could conflict with the community's desire to preserve the historic downtown.

Thursday's meeting was part of the plan update's yearlong process. The directions given by planning commissioners will be used to shape the update.

The plan update is the result of countless community working group meetings and responses to community questionnaires designed to provide community direction on specific issues. The next step in creating a draft of the update plan is identifying strategies to implement the community directions.

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