Despite its endorsement by city planning staff, the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission unanimously denied a request from the city's staff attorney to subdivide an Old Town lot into two single-family home sites.
Attorney Dan Foote and his wife, Cheryl, asked to subdivide the lot wedged between Pahwintah Street and Princeton Avenue into two 8,338-square-foot lots. The city code allows for a duplex to go on the lot, but they needed a variance to subdivide the lot for two single-family homes with secondary units.
At Tuesday's Planning Commission meeting, staff recommended approving the subdivision, but in a 6-0 vote the board denied the request, saying it went against the character of the neighborhood.
Subdividing the 16,676-square-foot lot into halves would have met the zoning district's minimum lot size requirement of 8,000 square feet. But the Community Development Code does not allow residential subdivisions if lots are 10 percent smaller than the average size of lots within 300 feet of the lot in question.
The average lot size within 300 feet of the Foote lot is 15,956 square feet. Under the new code, that means the subdivided lots could be no smaller than 14,360 square feet.
Because of the low number of very large parcels in the neighborhood, City Planner Jonathan Spence said the median size of lots is much smaller, at 11,040 square feet.
The staff report also shows four lots within 300 feet of the Foote's lot are below 4,000 square feet. Of the total 25 lots, 12 of them are between 8,000 and 12,000 square feet.
In his memo to the Planning Commission, Spence said the code size regulation might not have the desired effect in this neighborhood.
"Neighborhoods whose lot sizes vary widely are not well characterized by the size of lots. Other traits such as land-use patterns and building setbacks are more indicative of this type of neighborhood's character," Spence wrote.
About 15 neighbors turned out Thursday to oppose the subdivision. Spence said the group had three primary concerns: that the lots were too small and out of character with the neighborhood, that they would increase the density of the neighborhood by allowing secondary units and that they would create access and snow removal problems along Princeton Avenue.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer cited the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and development code in denying the request. Meyer said there is a right and wrong way for infill to occur in older neighborhoods.
"We had a couple instances lately with people trying to subdivide lots in Old Town. The bigger issue is allowing (landowners) to chop up Old Town, and is that really what the community wants?" Meyer asked.
Spence said the Footes have 15 days to appeal the Planning Commission's decision to the City Council. Spence said they have not moved forward with an appeal.
In 2001, the city allowed the property's former owner, Kay Sieverding, to divide her property into two lots, one the house sits on and the second, a piece of land large enough to accommodate a duplex unit.
When Sieverding asked for a duplex, neighbors spoke out against her request, saying a duplex would not fit the character of the neighborhood. The city found a duplex to be in compliance with the Community Development Code and Steamboat Springs Area Plan.
It is the duplex unit the Footes want to subdivide into two separate lots.
County records show that Sieverding sold the property to Bernard M. Krisner, LTD for $175,00 in October of 2001 and it was then resold to the Footes in April for $235,000.
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