By a 2-to-1 margin, Steamboat Springs residents favor putting policies in place to control the city's growth rate.
That was one of the findings in the preliminary results from 270 questionnaires filled out by residents as part of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update.
Respondents also showed a desire for a dedicated funding source to protect land and preserve open space, as well as a need to create commercial nodes along U.S. Highway 40.
The city has been tabulating the questionnaires since they were turned in almost three weeks ago. City Planner Tom Leeson gave the City Council and Routt County Planning Commissioner the preliminary findings at Tuesday's joint meeting.
In April, a 25-page packet that covered key choices in the community plan was dispersed throughout town. Residents were asked to fill out a questionnaire in the back of each packet to help direct the city in its planning for everything from growth issues to capital improvements to affordable housing.
The findings showed a greater consensus than Leeson expected and followed closely with the directions the plan's working groups gave, he said. The questionnaires are not intended to be a scientific survey and will be used in conjunction with other tools to help shape the plan update.
The final results should be in by the end of the week, but Leeson said there likely will be little change from the preliminary findings.
"I was surprised that there appears to be a pretty clear direction in most issues," Leeson said. "I really expected some to be split."
One of the more debated questions -- whether the community's rate of growth should be managed -- had a clear direction. Twice as many respondents said a policy to control the growth rate should be included in the plan as those who said no growth-rate restrictions are needed.
The growth issue was one of a few questions Leeson said did not follow the direction the working groups took. The growth management group was split on whether to institute a growth-rate-management policy.
Otherwise, questionnaire responses largely mirror directives of the working groups, which have been meeting for more than a year. Each of the 10 groups focused on a specific area of the plan.
"Working groups did provide directions, but we wanted to make sure these were the directions the community was going in," Leeson said.
Other areas that show a strong community consensus were responses to environmental concerns. More than 80 percent of the respondents said there should be a dedicated funding source for the protection of natural, scenic and environmentally sensitive areas. About 85 percent said the funding source should come from a lodging tax.
Eighty-eight percent said they wanted to see a dedicated funding source for open space, parks and trail projects.
About 85 percent of the respondents said they wanted to concentrate commercial development in commercial nodes along U.S. Highway 40 to avoid building all along the highway.
Three times as many respondents recommended establishing a historic district with historic standards in Old Town than those who did not want the community to pursue a district.
Some issues were divided.
Preliminary findings show a split on airport service; with respondents divided as to whether the plan should maintain the air-service status quo in the summer or place more emphasis on the airport to get tourists to come to Steamboat via airplane and decrease their reliance on vehicles.
Responses also were divided on other transportation issues. Half the respondents supported accepting traffic congestion west of town along U.S. Highway 40 rather than restrict development in the west of Steamboat area. However, one third of the respondents felt it would be better to limit growth west of Steamboat and find other locations where growth can occur. Others favored a multifaceted approach that would combine road improvements, more transit opportunities and other locations for growth.
The findings are just one of the tools that will be used as the city and county -- with the help of consultants, Clarion and Associates -- come up with a draft plan.
Leeson said the direction the plan takes will be a combination of the findings from the questionnaires, input from the working groups and consultants, and professional opinions.
Leeson said the draft should be completed by late June and ready for public review and input in July.
-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org