Council may revisit issue

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— The City Council next week may revisit an ordinance approved Tuesday regulating real estate offices because a glitch in the city's computer system delayed delivery of 11 e-mails about the measure, City Clerk Julie Jordan said.

The ordinance adds real estate businesses to the Community Dev--elopment Code's definition of "office," which means they couldn't be along a pedestrian level street or other public access frontage in Old Town and part of the ski base area.

The ordinance was discussed at two public meetings before it came to City Council for final approval Tuesday night, but some in the real estate business said they didn't get enough notice about the pending change.

The Planning Commission met Oct. 27 and recommended approval of the ordinance, and the City Council conducted and approved a first reading of the ordinance Nov. 15.

Planning department officials also sent a letter, dated Nov. 3, to the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors describing the potential change.

But council members heard and read complaints Tuesday from real estate agents who said they want the ordinance tabled.

Jim Hansen of Old Town Realty said he heard about the ordinance the morning of the meeting. The council also received complaints via a letter and an e-mail; both were sent this week.

At the meeting, council member Loui Antonucci said he saw no reason to rush a vote about the ordinance and that it should be tabled to allow real estate agents to express their thoughts.

Council member Steve Ivancie, however, said real estate agents had plenty of time to comment about the proposed change.

Antonucci said there should always be a good mix of businesses downtown. If there are too many shops of one kind, he said, the market would move them out. Therefore, he said, the ordinance didn't make a lot of sense.

"I don't really know that it is necessary," he said.

The motion to table the ordinance, which would have allowed real estate agents more time to comment, failed in a three-to-four vote. Voting in favor of tabling the ordinance were Ant--onucci, Kevin Kaminski and Paul Strong.

Ivancie said he would vote to approve the ordinance because he thought the ground-level storefronts in the districts should be for businesses that generate sales tax. If real estate businesses were willing to pay sales tax for their properties, he said, his opinion would be different.

Ivancie was among the council members who pointed out that the ordinance does not eliminate the opportunity for real estate offices in the districts because it allows for a review.

The council approved the ordinance, which does not apply to existing real estate operations, in a six-to-one vote. Antonucci was the dissenting vote.

But the ordinance has not been put to bed yet. On Wednesday morning, Jordan found 11 more e-mails of concern from real estate agents, sent Tuesday, in her inbox. The e-mails, which would have been included in the council's information packet Tuesday night, may have been held back by the city's spam filter, Jordan said.

Because council members did not receive all the comments, the council will decide Tuesday whether to reconsider the ordinance and vote again, Jordan said. She said she spoke to some council members Wednesday and that they voiced support of a re-vote.

"Our council tries to take everybody's opinion into consideration," Jordan said.

Council President Ken Brenner said he couldn't predict the council's action but that that he thought there would be another vote.

"It is likely there will be a motion for reconsideration of that vote," Brenner said. "We take pride in the fact that we have a good public process."

Randall Hannaway, with Colorado Group Realty, said Wednesday that he appreciated the city's willingness to revisit the issue after receiving the letters. Hannaway was one of the letter writers whose comments were received in time for the meeting.

Hannaway said he is opposed to the ordinance but understood the concerns behind it. He said real estate agents and city officials should meet to discuss the issue.

"It's worth looking into," he said. "We may be able to come up with a solution that works well for everyone."

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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