The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission unanimously agreed that a proposed Walgreens development was not up to city standards.
With a 14,820-square-foot Walgreens among the six buildings up for consideration Thursday night, the development was the first one that tested the city's new big-box ordinance. Being greater than 12,000 square feet, the plan had a more stringent review process and had to prove above-average public benefit.
All the Planning Commission members said that the proposed applicant did not prove that public benefit. Commissioners had concerns that the Walgreens was not closer to the street corner and that the buildings did not have enough architectural details.
"I haven't seen a plan I disliked as much as this one in many years," Planning Commission member Dana Stopher said. "They aren't doing anything for our community. Because of that, I don't think we need to bend in any way."
The Planning Commission reviewed the development's preapplication Thursday night, giving feedback but not taking a formal vote.
Known as Steamboat Crossing North, the development calls for five new retail/restaurant buildings and a Walgreens on 4.98 acres on the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road. The plan also called for four employee-housing units.
The developer, Pedersen Development Company, proposed buildings that would have heavy timber, wood siding and stone work at the gabled entrances, flat metal roofs and blocks for the main building material.
But Planning Commission members, city staff and some residents were concerned that the buildings looked too much like big boxes.
"It looks like suburban sprawl to me," resident Diane Brower said. "It really looks like the buildings you see in the significant sprawl outside of Denver."
Planning Commission members said they wanted to see more variety in the buildings and that they should be more transparent so pedestrians could see inside them.
"I think the plan needs more work, more thought, it needs to address the concerns of the community," Planning Commission member Tracy Barnett said. "Because Walgreens does not do it that way anywhere else doesn't mean they shouldn't do it that way here."
The Planning Commission also disliked the plan to set back the Walgreens building from U.S. 40 and have parking spaces and a driving lane to the drive-through pharmacy in between the building and the road.
The planners said they wanted to see the building pulled up to the street corner to give more visual interest and pedestrian orientation.
In his presentation to the council, developer Scott Pedersen said the project met all four of the criteria considered as a public benefit for a building more than 12,000 square feet.
He said it represented excellence in design, it would improve neighbor services through better pedestrian connections, it was economically sustainable and anticipated adding $400,000 in sales tax revenue to the city in one year, and it had proposed four deed-restricted affordable housing units.
After the Planning Com-mission gave its feedback, Pedersen said that for the development to work, it had to be compatible with its main anchor, Walgreens.
"We'll go back and see what we can do," Pedersen said. "Our interest is certainly economic, building a project that makes money. It also is, we want to be good citizens and developers. Our goal is to bring a project to Steamboat that works for everybody."
-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail email@example.com