City extends moratorium

Plans for ski area base can be submitted through Sept. 1

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The Steamboat Springs City Council approved a month extension for a moratorium on accepting pre-application plans for the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

At Tuesday's meeting, the City Council agreed to push back the time pre-application plans for the base area can be submitted to the planning department, extending the moratorium from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1. The extension reflects the three- to four-week delay in the update to the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan.

The draft of the plan update was scheduled to be completed by July 31. However, scheduling conflicts have the plan coming before the council Sept. 13. The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will be the first to review the draft July 14.

The council did not change the moratorium on development and final development plans, which is set to expire Nov. 1.

Although the council and Planning Commission review pre-application plans, they do not take an official vote on the plans. They merely give feedback about how the applicant should proceed.

The codes and regulations that developers follow for their projects could change after they submit their pre-application plans, depending on the revisions to the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan.

The council debated about whether the moratorium should be extended even longer so applicants would have a clearer picture of the update process.

Councilman Ken Brenner proposed extending the moratorium on pre-application plans to Sept. 15, two days after the council first sees the plan.

"The problem is, it is taking away from the staff time needed to do a good job with proceeding with the plan, and it is also proceeding at your own risk," Brenner said.

But other council members worried that extending the moratorium further would make potential developers at the base area skittish.

"We are telling them proceed in the pre-application process at your own risk. I think Sept. 15 would be really treading on dangerous territory as far as having national confidence in Steamboat and the message out there on the URA," Councilwoman Kathy Connell said.

David Baldinger Jr., who is part of the group that brought forward the proposal for an urban renewal authority, said developers would have trouble working with a deadline later than Sept. 1.

The planning department takes eight weeks to process pre-application plans and 12 to 13 weeks for development or final development plans. With that time frame, plus time to rework plans between the two planning phases, Baldinger said the developers would be hard pressed to get projects approved before the next building season.

"If you go past September, you are not coming out in April. You are not taking advantage of the building season," Baldinger said. "We're in favor of a very short delay. Anything beyond that is really killing momentum for another whole year. You are going to kill three or four financers."

Councilman Loui Antonucci said ending the pre-application moratorium Sept. 1 would allow plans to trickle into the planning department, as opposed to being deluged by plans when the entire moratorium is lifted.

In March, the council im----posed a moratorium so the city could complete the plan update before building would begin at the ski area. In January, the city approved a URA to do public improvements to the base area and received five pre-applications for major redevelopment projects in the area at about the same time.

The boundaries for the moratorium are the same as those for the urban renewal authority, encompassing the base of the ski area and extending down to the Meadows parking area.

The moratorium is tied closely to the URA, which prompted the rash of pre-applications. The intent of the URA is to raise money to fund public improvements in the vicinity of the base of the ski area.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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