Area plan adoption draft available

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A final draft of the Steamboat Springs Area Plan Update was released to the public Thursday.

The 200-plus page document incorporates changes made by elected officials, planning commissioners and the general public this fall. The city and county planning commissions will start reviewing the new draft this month. The City Council and Board of County Commissioners are scheduled to review it in February.

Final adoption of the plan update is set for March at a joint meeting between all four boards.

City Planner Tom Leeson said some of the biggest changes in the plan come in the land-use and growth-management sections.

The land-use section was changed to promote more development in designated commercial activity nodes along U.S. Highway 40.

The draft encourages commercial activity at key intersections and discourages strip-like commercial development. The draft indicates that U.S. 40 intersections with Mount Werner Road, Pine Grove Road, Angler's Drive and Elk River Road should develop into more heavily commercial areas and be accessible by all transportation modes. The draft emphasizes that U.S. 40 between the specified intersections should become a mixed-use corridor with more residential than commercial development.

Another change in the plan is the creation of a Growth Management Advisory Group. In October, the council and commissioners agreed to form a growth commission to look at implementing growth-management tools such as controlling the growth rate through permitting residential building permits.

The revised draft also tweaked language in the transportation section discussing the Yampa Avenue extension. It says the Yampa Avenue extension, which would circumvent the bottleneck at 13th Street by connecting 13th Street to Yampa Avenue, should be kept as an alternative to Lincoln Avenue. But the draft complies with the City Council's wish that the plans for the Bud Werner Memorial Library expansion should take precedence over the potential road extension, Leeson said.

The revised draft includes no changes to the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, despite meetings held with local landowners to discuss why the area has not been developed. The plan still promotes building east to west and within the urban growth boundary, and that development should follow traditional neighborhood planning policies.

The area plan update process started in November 2001 and has included more than 100 people working on different areas of the plan. Last fall, the first draft of the plan was released, allowing officials and residents to give input and request changes.

Changes also have been made to the plan's organization, moving policy and action steps further up in each of the chapters and background information to the back of the chapter. Even for those who read the first version, Leeson said, so many changes have been made it would be a good idea to reread the updated plan.

"People really should, with all of the changes, assume it's a new document," Leeson said.

Copies of the adoption draft are available online at www.yampavalley.info. CD copies can be purchased at the city planning department for $5, and hard copies can be purchased at both the planning department and PostNet for $12.50. Copies are available to check out at the city and county planning departments and the library.

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