Planning department asks residents questions

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— The community is asking to take on some tough questions -- and have their answers back to the city in about a month.

On the counter of the city planning department office sits a stack of the latest information generated from the Steamboat Springs community area plan. Inside the brightly colored packets are key choices the community must make to help develop a plan that will direct future growth.

The information represents more than a year of work from 10 community committees, city and county staff, and hired consultants.

The 25-page packets list 27 choices in the 10 areas that residents need to make in order to establish governmental policies directing growth. Listed with each choice are its potential consequences and polices that could be implemented to enact it.

While the majority of the packet is dedicated to choices, its last few pages are a questionnaire asking residents to pick what direction the community should take.

"The choices need to be made by the community as a whole," City Planner Tom Leeson said. "These choices need to be made before we can precede."

The packet asks, for example, whether planning inside the Urban Growth Boundary has an appropriate balance of housing, shopping and jobs, or how much emphasis should be placed on removing barriers to affordable house.

Another question: Should the community manage the growth rate? Residents are asked to choose between not including growth-rate restrictions or including a growth-rate control mechanism when the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan is updated.

To facilitate a decision, the section includes information on what rates of growth, from 1 percent to 3.4 percent, would look like in 20 years, and when the city would reach maximum build-out at each rate. It also lists the consequences of limiting growth, as well as strategies that would control growth, such as limiting the number of building permits given each year.

Right now, the 10 working groups, each of which focused on a different aspect of community growth, such as land use, economic development and transportation, are seeing the packet as a whole for the first time and making revisions to their specific sections. After those changes are made, Leeson said it is time to take the show on the road.

The key choices and directions will be presented to different "stake holders" in the community, such as the Rotary Club and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, during April. Presentation will also be made to the Steamboat Springs City Council, City Planning Commission and Routt County Commissioners. All those government meetings are public.

The community organizations and government entities, along with individual community members, are asked to fill out the questionnaires and return them by April 25.

In April and May, the planning staff will start working on the draft of the plan and the Area Plan Coordinating Committee and the public will review the draft this summer.

Packets can be picked up at Centennial Hall or accessed online at www.yampavalleyinfo.com.

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