Commission gives feedback on plan

Planning Commission to write letter to Ski Corp. supporting Forest Service's comments

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The city Planning Commission voted to write a letter supporting the U.S. Forest Service's comments on the Steamboat Ski Area's master plan.

Some of the planning commissioners said they felt that comments should be added that encouraged the ski area to go into more detail on base-area improvements and how they intended to fund the suggested improvements.

At Thursday's meeting, City Planner Jonathan Spence said he wanted direction on how the city should give feedback to Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. The commission voted 5-1 to write a letter to Ski Corp. in support of the Forest Service's comments.

The Forest Service had noted that the plan gave a good description of the ski area's plans for the base area but said the plan did not include existing shortcomings such as a lack of a base lodge, accessible restrooms and lockers nor did it discuss pedestrian access from parking lots and the condos.

Planning Chairwoman Kathi Meyer praised the Forest Service for its comments and said her major concern was the lack of information on how the proposed improvements would be funded.

"Otherwise, they will talk about all these nice things, and nothing will ever happen," Meyer said.

Planning Commissioner Randall Hannaway suggested that the plan include details on how Ski Corp. would work with major stakeholders at the base of the ski area as it makes improvements.

Planning Commissioner Dick Curtis said he would like to see more discussion on safety issues and alternatives to the ski runs that are heavily used at the end of the day as skiers leave the mountain.

"A number of beginner and moderate skiers come down relatively few runs at the end of the day," Curtis said. "I don't see anything in the plan that is an alternate means or safer means of descending the hill at the end of the day."

Every five to seven years, the Forest Service requires the ski area to update its master plan.

In January, Ski Corp. presented its master plan to the Planning Commission and the City Council; at that time, the commission expressed concerns with the lack of information about base area operations.

During those meetings, Ski Corp. talked about improving lifts, changing terrain to accommodate beginning skiers, adding more snowmaking and remodeling the base of the gondola.

In other business, the Planning Commission approved the development and architectural plans to expand Taco Bell so it could incorporate Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Under the city code, the 850-foot addition required the exterior of the building to be remodeled.

The exterior will change from primarily stucco to a cultured "ledgestone" rock siding finished with a blue/gray stain and a smaller amount of beige stucco. The plan also added a sidewalk to the site.

Meyer said the city's restrictions on franchise architecture have improved the building.

"I can no longer drive by this building and tell it is a Taco Bell. I would like to thank the applicant and architect for putting into practice what I hope is a trend in this community," Meyer said.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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