Steamboat to look at fly-in communities

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The Yampa Valley Airport Commission is looking at the possibility of having a fly-in community next to the Steamboat Springs Airport.

A presentation on the concept has been made to the airport commission. The Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County commissioners are expected to have similar presentations in the next month.

A fly-in community is a housing development situated near an airport that enables homeowners to taxi their planes to their homes and park them there. The Steamboat Springs Airport has only general aviation traffic and leases hangar space.

City Manager Paul Hughes said there are about 10 such communities in Colorado and many across the country.

"Instead of taxying up to the terminal, you taxi up to your driveway," Hughes said.

City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said fly-in communities are common in resort areas because second-home owners can fly in and park their jets next to their homes and vehicles.

The City Council was scheduled to have a presentation on the concept last Tuesday, but scheduling conflicts arose with the presenter. The presentation is set to come before the council Oct. 19.

Land surrounding the Steamboat Springs Airport falls under the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which requires any urban level density to be one-third affordable housing units. A development for a fly-in community most likely would be a mix between the state-allowed 35-acre developments and the much higher urban density the west of Steamboat plan allows, Hughes said.

Residential uses already are allowed on the adjacent land, Hughes said. Housing developments surrounding airports typically have concerns with noise from aviation traffic, but Hughes said that in fly-in communities that is not a problem.

"These people have no problem with that -- they enjoy that kind of setting," he said.

The community has debated whether the Steamboat Springs Airport should have stayed open after commercial service stopped in the mid-1990s.

This summer, the airport commission conducted a report looking at the costs of keeping the city airport open. The report found that it would cost the city $18 million to close the airport initially and then more than $4 million annually to pay back federal grant funds.

At the same time, Combined Airports Now LLC formed, advocating that the city airport and the Yampa Valley Regional Airport consolidate. The group's members say all development of the airport should stop, and no new grants should be given until voters approve to keep the Steamboat Springs Airport open.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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