Monday, November 24, 2003
A permit to fill about 1.4 acres of wetlands at the site of the new justice center is about one month behind schedule, but county officials do not think the delay will slow the project.
The public comment period on the permit has just begun.
Having the fill permit is important for approval of the project by the Steamboat Springs Planning Department and City Council.
Routt County Building Director Tim Winter said after the public comment period ends and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issues the permit, collects all of the comments, the county should be ready to navigate the city planning process.
The justice center is proposed for a five-acre parcel south of the Routt County Jail along Shield Drive in an undeveloped lot within the Curve Development subdivision. Wetlands cover about half of the lot.
The Army Corps must publish a public notice of the county's application to fill some of those wetlands and must notify other agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Division of Wildlife.
Both the public and the agencies have 30 days to comment on the project, after which time the Army Corps could tell Routt County to modify the project.
It is unlikely that the permit will be issued before the end of February, Winter said.
"This is a pretty compact timeline," Winter said. "We don't stop to catch our breath much. We're moving right ahead."
As part of the permit, the county will be required to mitigate the fill by creating as many or more wetlands as it displaces.
One positive development in the process is that both the Steamboat Springs City Council and planning commission recently approved the subdivision of the lot where the justice center would be built. That brought the county closer to purchasing the lot. All that's needed now is a final administrative review, Winter said.
County officials also said the cost of the building could be less expensive than originally predicted because of the building's box design.
The architect's first cost estimate is expected in the next two weeks.
A public open house, in which residents can come to review plans for the justice center, will be held in December.
The county has proposed a 50,000-square-foot justice center at a cost of between $12 million and $14 million.
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