Subdivision sparks lawsuit

City may wind up in court over controversial approval

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council's approval of a controversial 22-acre subdivision could land it in court.

In January, the council gave the go-ahead for the proposed Overlook Preserve subdivision in a 5-2 vote.

On Feb. 5, the Ranch at Steamboat Condominium Association, which neighbors the proposed development, filed a lawsuit in District Court asking that the city's approval be reversed.

The lawsuit names the city and the developer, Overlook Preserve, LLC, as defendants. The suits asks the court to issue an injunction preventing the city from allowing construction on Overlook Preserve to begin.

The city approved the development, which would comprise 15 single-family-home lots with the possibility of seven caretaker units, for a 22-acre parcel located southeast of Overlook Drive and north of Burgess Creek road.

Court documents show that Overlook Preserve already has contracts to sell four of those lots for a total of $1 million. It also has a buyer for a fifth lot, which is priced at $250,000.

A court date has not been set.

The city and Overlook Preserve each filed counterclaims to the lawsuit on Feb. 27. City Attorney Dan Foote said the next step is for the Ranch homeowners to respond to the counterclaim.

The Ranch homeowners claim Overlook Preserve is part of the Ranch's original planned unit development, approved by the city in 1979. And, under that PUD agreement, the Ranch homeowners contend that they would have to approve any major changes to the plan by a two-thirds majority vote.

Overlook Preserve is on land once designated as the third phase of the Ranch development. The original plan would have added 70 units in six separate buildings to the existing 88 condominium units, tennis courts and swimming pool at the Ranch.

During the city hearings, the Ranch homeowners and another group of more than 60 surrounding neighbors said the Overlook Preserve plan extended into land they had been told since 1979 was designated open space.

"The Ranch owners felt that they had committed that portion of the site to open and undeveloped land. Now they propose to develop it," Ranch Attorney Bob Weiss said.

Overlook Preserve developers claims the original Ranch developer, Roland Colorado, Ltd., never filed a final PUD.

Although the city and even representatives of Roland referred to the plan as a final PUD, Overlook Preserve said that plan was never signed by the City Council or recorded with the county clerk. Both are required for a PUD.

In its counterclaim, Overlook Preserve also said the city redid its zoning and planning regulations twice, once in 1986 and again in 2001.

Those changes to the city development code might indicate the two-thirds approval from the Ranch homeowners would not apply, the developers contend.

Foote said that when the city heard the plan, it decided the PUD was not valid. Even if the PUD was in effect, the council said it would not have required the development to be approved by two-thirds of the homeowners.

During the January council hearing, Tom Sharp, attorney for Overlook Preserve, said he expected a lawsuit to follow the council's decision.

In December, before the plan went to the Planning Commission, the Ranch homeowners association filed its first lawsuit. That suit was withdrawn two weeks after the Planning Commission approved the plan 5-2.

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