City Council to review moratorium

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The Steamboat Springs City Council is expected to extend a moratorium on growth at the base of the ski area tonight.

On Feb. 16, the City Council passed an emergency ordinance that bans any new development at the base of the ski area.

The 45-day moratorium prohibits the council from approving any development plan or accepting any new pre-application plan within the boundaries of the urban renewal authority around the base.

The moratorium was in response to a rush of development plans submitted after the city approved the URA in January. The city wants to complete its Mountain Town Sub Area Plan before private developers move ahead with major redevelopment.

The 45-day emergency ordinance was intended to give the city a chance to discuss a longer moratorium and allow the public to make comments.

Councilwoman Kathy Connell, who suggested shortening the emergency ordinance to 45 days, said the process would allow for more disclosure.

The emergency ordinance offers the opportunity for a more thoughtful discussion about the base area redevelopment, Connell said.

"It is so important that we have a plan and a vision so we can say, 'here is our vision and how does your property fit into it,'" she said.

City Council President Paul Strong said today's discussion will focus on how long the moratorium will be extended and whether the moratorium should include pre-applications.

The intent is to keep the moratorium in place so new development plans would be subjected to any new regulations and policies the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan recommends. The plan is expected to be completed by the end of July. The city Planning Commission and council then would have to approve the plan.

The final step is to adopt ordinances that coincide with the plan. That probably would occur in September. To meet that timeline, the moratorium would be more than 180 days long, Strong said.

By stalling all new development plans at the base area until October, Strong fears developers' building season could be pushed back until summer 2007. To help the process move faster, Strong thinks the council should consider allowing pre-applications to move through the city during the moratorium.

"To not do anything until 2007, we might let some momentum lapse, and we want to catch that momentum if we can," Strong said.

He said the city could start looking at the pre-applications in May or June, when there is a better idea of what changes the sub area plan would recommend. A pre-application plan requires less detail then later plans, and the council is required only to give feedback.

No development or final development plans within the urban renewal boundary are in the city's planning process right now. Five pre-applications within the boundary have been submitted to the planning department: One Steamboat Place, Aspen Ridge, the Point, Christie Base Parcel B and Wildhorse Meadows.

The planning department also has had contact with a developer who is interested in redeveloping the Clock Tower building.

The intent of the URA is to raise money to fund public improvements in the vicinity of the ski area base. The authority is funded partially through the increase in property tax created from new development or redevelopment in the area. It also is funded through incremental increases in sales tax in the area.

Council members thought a city commitment to do improvements to the area would spur property owners to make upgrades.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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