City, county OK area plan update

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— After four hours of fast-paced discussions and public comment Monday night, city and county elected officials unanimously approved the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update.

The Steamboat Springs City Council and Planning Commission, and the Routt County commissioners and Planning Commission all voted in favor of the update. The document, which has been two-and-a-half years in the making, is meant to shape the Steamboat Springs area during the coming years.

Next, city and county officials will prioritize the actions outlined in the plan and create rules and regulations to implement its goals.

Some of the update's major revisions from its 1995 predecessor include: strengthening the mobile-home-preservation ordinance and discouraging the conversion of mobile home parks to commercial use; removing the Yampa Street Connection as an alternative to deal with traffic bottlenecking at the west end of town; and forming a growth-management advisory committee to address growth.

Some changes were made to the plan during Monday's meeting. For instance, City Councilwoman Kathy Connell said she felt language protecting mobile home parks should be strengthened from "consider, could, wish" to "should." Officials also agreed that the plan include language referring some housing plans to the new Yampa Valley Housing Authority for review, to continue to look at affordable housing options.

Public comment during the first part of the meeting focused largely on the area's mobile home parks, with more than half of the audience packed into Olympian Hall attending to show support for any steps the city and county can take to protect mobile home communities.

Some homeowners from the Dream Island Mobile Home Community asked that the city make it easier for them to buy their mobile homes. Some reminded the officials that mobile homeowners fill important needs in the community, and encouraged officials to keep working on the problems of affordable living.

"Even the ones that live in the mobile home parks, we are all to be given a fair shake, and I think you're working on it, but we don't want it to get swept under the rug," said Bobbi Hodge. "Please don't forget about us."

Others from the public said they were not happy with the update, and felt it lacked the public participation that was evident when the 1995 plan was written.

"Reviewing the newer versions, I and others see a markedly changed document erasing preservation and putting development in its place" Sam Marti said.

The plan is meant to be updated every five years; the next update has not yet been scheduled.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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