Growth Committee having trouble sprouting

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Managing the city's growth has long been a divisive issue, so city staffers are baffled as to why they have yet to see any interest in joining a committee to discuss it.

For the past two weeks, the city has run advertisements in its City Page in the Steamboat Today asking residents to apply to the growth advisory committee, which is being created as an offshoot of the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan.

The City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners had hoped to select the committee at a joint June 29 meeting. The city has received no applications.

"It kind of says there is absolutely zero interest in following through," City Planner Tim McHarg said. "To the staff, it says no one is interested in growth management, when it was something a lot of community members were certainly interested in throughout the plan."

The lack of applications for the growth committee is startling if only because the decision to form the committee was born out of the controversy the issue stirred during drafting of the area plan.

City and county officials worried settling on a solution for managing the rate of growth could be so arduous that it would delay adopting the entire area plan for months.

In October, Ken Brenner, who was then an alternate to the Routt County Regional Planning Commission and is now a councilman, proposed forming the growth advisory committee.

"No one with a good knowledge on this issue would pretend we could solve it and put it back in (to the plan) in time for adoption," Brenner said at that time.

Instead, the City Council and county commissioners decided to take the question out of the plan, stipulating instead that a diverse citizen's group would look at ways to manage the rate of growth and then pass on a recommendation to elected officials six months after the plan was approved.

The plan was approved May 3, and the city began advertising for residents to fill the committee shortly afterward.

"Maybe it is the time of year and people have other things going on and are burned out on the long process of the area plan," McHarg said.

He said the committee could agree to hold just a few meetings during the summer and then start focusing on the issue in the fall.

During hearings on the draft of the plan, residents argued passionately for and against growth controls.

The growth management working group, which studied the portion of the plan for more than a year, was split on the need for a growth rate control mechanism.

In July, the City Council and county commissioners said they did not want to see a growth-control mechanism that depends on controlling the number of building permits given each year or the timing of added infrastructure.

When the draft plan came out in the fall minus the growth-control mechanism, some residents asked that it be put back into the plan. Others said the control would be disastrous.

The boards decided forming a committee with ample time to come to a consensus would be the best solution.

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