The Routt County Planning Commission almost unanimously agreed that a proposed resort and spa for dogs and cats including almost 20,000 square feet of kennels was not appropriate for a 40-acre area near Milner.
After hearing concerns from adjacent property owners, planning commissioners agreed that increased traffic, water supply, bad road conditions, and disruption to wildlife and neighbors were a few of the problems with the proposal.
"In my own opinion, this is completely out of character for what happens there, and it's that simple," Planning Commission Chairman Donald Alperti said.
Several planning commissioners told the applicants, Michael Vogl and Nicole Huber, that the project was a great idea, but the location they chose was the wrong one. Another comment was that the proposed operation was too large for a 40-acre parcel.
Only Planning Commissioner Wayne Adamo said he had no comment.
The proposal for Four Paws Pet Resort & Spa was heard as a preapplication, which meant the Planning Commission did not make a formal decision but gave the applicants direction. That direction seemed to be to find another place for the project.
The pet resort was proposed to have five phases. The first would include 13,500 square feet of buildings for dog kennel areas to hold a maximum of 62 dogs. Next would be a pool area of 625 square feet, followed by 2,500 square feet of dog kennels for 24 dogs, then 400 square feet for cat kennels to hold 24 cats, and then 2,500 square feet for another 24 dogs.
The proposed site was a half-mile north on U.S. Highway 40 on Routt County Road 44B.
The applicants said they had researched facilities across the country and wanted to make their facility the best of the best.
"We call it a pet resort and spa, and that's what we're aiming for -- a high-class (operation)," Vogl said.
The applicants said they carefully researched sound-proofing materials and could be sure that the sound of dogs or other pets would not bother neighbors.
However, neighbors had more concerns than sound.
Maxine Trull Turner, an adjacent landowner, recently put her family's almost 750 acres under conservation easements with the help of grants from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights program. One reason for conserving the land was the rich variety of wildlife that uses the area, including deer, elk, mountain lions, Sandhill cranes, foxes and bears.
"Deer and elk can smell dogs whether they can hear them or not," she said.
She said that she preserved her land to avoid commercial development and that she was opposed to the project.
Susan Otis, executive director of the Yampa Valley Land Trust, said that nearby properties in addition to Turner's were under such easements, and that the proposed project could seriously affect the wildlife values of those areas.
"This is a very intense commercial activity. It's in the wrong location," Otis said.
Robert Fry, a resident of the area for more than 40 years, had many concerns with the proposal, one of which was that the building was a "massive undertaking."
"It will dominate that hillside. ... And you will see it," he said. "That is a massive structure."
Another of Fry's concerns was that the traffic from people dropping pets off and of employees driving to work would be too much for C.R. 44B, which other residents echoed.
No decision was made Thursday night, and the applicants can choose whether to proceed, Alperti reminded the audience.
Also at Thursday's meeting, Planning Commission members said a land preservation subdivision proposed by Walter Scott's family partnership for a 188-acre area adjacent to the Steamboat Springs Airport that recently was deannexed from the city looked like a good proposal.
That issue also was considered through a preapplication conference, so no final decision was made.
The Scott family plan involved six building lots, leaving a 140-acre tract of open space. The Planning Commission discussed whether there would be any way to ensure that open space involved could remain undeveloped, but that is up to the applicant, planning staff said.
Walter Scott, representing the partnership, said that in the future, a key concern was to make the development economically feasible.
Planning commissioners also said it would be important that a linker road described in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan be possible, and that all access issues that Scott is disputing with the city of Steamboat Springs in court must be worked out. They said more information about the relationship of the nearby airport to the lots would be helpful.
Also on Thursday, the Planning Commission approved an amendment to Steamboat Lake Outfitters permit, allowing the business to rent 10 snowmobiles to overnight guests.
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