City looks at West plan

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In the City Council and Planning Commission's first crack at the five-year review of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, the group looked at revising some of the basic tenets in the plan.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, the two boards questioned whether the philosophy of developing east to west is still the right one, whether special districts are needed to encourage infrastructure in the area, and whether residents should pay an additional tax to cover services. The layout of major roads and water and sewer lines also were discussed.

The west of Steamboat plan was approved in 1999 and since then, West End Village was the only development to be built in the area. Part of the plan called for 2,400 housing units, a third of which are to be designated as affordable housing.

"I think the major issue is the east to west. If you change that, you have to look at everything it affects. The whole plan predicates on east to west," County Planning Director Caryn Fox said.

Councilman Ken Brenner said that starting west to east, instead of east to west, would mean having gaps between city services. Landowners on the east edge want to begin developing, he said, but would need to form a special district to help finance the infrastructure costs.

"I have talked to property owners, I believe it's very much workable from east to west," Brenner said.

Council President Paul Strong noted that market forces are leaning toward west-to-east development more than east to west, but he worried that pattern would cost the city more if the developed land were to be annexed.

The boards also discussed the plan's original requirement to make the new residents pay a mill levy to cover the increase in costs to city services.

Strong said he questions having different residents paying different amounts for the same services.

Landowners spoke about problems with the plan and how it impedes developing their land. Landowner Mary Brown said the one-third affordable-housing requirement might not work with the lower density areas.

In other business, the council agreed to direct staff to work on a ballot initiative that would prohibit smoking in public areas. The question is expected to come before voters in the November election. The council has not discussed whether the nonsmoking initiative would cover public area or include private facilities, such as restaurants. Already, the city does not allow smoking in its facilities.

The council agreed to spend $260,647 on repairs to the K-114 ski jump at Howelsen Hill. In the spring, a crack and subsequent slump developed on the jump's face.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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