Community plan update could shape future development

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— The directions given in the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update have the potential to shape real estate and development decision in the coming years. Focusing on issues such as land use, economic sustainability, historic preservation and growth management, the document will create planning policies for the city and county to follow.

It could change current zoning, increase regulations, create incentives and modify the Community Development Code.

"It will impact everybody," City Planner Tom Leeson said. "It is the policy document for development."

Randall Hannaway, who sits on the City Planning Commission and is president of the Board of Realtors, is one of the more than 100 volunteers who worked on the plan, which incorporates community feedback and working group recommendations.

"I am hoping (the plan will give) much clearer direction of the where and how our community wants to grow," Hannaway said.

Of all the plans the city and county have worked on, Hannaway sees this one as having the greatest potential for implementation. He expects that, as it gets closer to approval, more public feedback will be given.

The plan is in its final stages. On July 7, both city and county planning commissions and the City Council and county commissioners will be asked to approve a consultant's recommendations. A draft of the final plan should be completed by August, Leeson said.

One of the more controversial recommendations included in the draft is to manage the community's growth rate through a permit allocation process or phasing system. City Council would have to pass an ordinance, or even take it to a vote, in order to create a maximum annual growth rate.

Changes could come in zoning, Leeson said, as the plan takes new direction in land uses. Those working on the plan call for an emphasis on infill and redevelopment, keeping Strawberry Park rural and encouraging nodes of commercial activity as opposed to strip malls.

Homebuilders could also see tougher environmental regulations. Leeson said those working on the plan recommended increasing water body setbacks, establishing local wetland protection programs, creating steep slope standards and requiring setbacks of 50 feet or more in scenic highway corridors and preventing buildings from being skylined on major ridges.

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