Residents weigh in on plan

City, county present changes to west of Steamboat update

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Residents told county and city staff that they were on target in their plans to update the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

On Wednesday night, the Routt County and Steamboat Springs planning departments hosted an open house, giving residents a chance to weigh in on the proposed changes to the west of Steamboat plan.

In February, the City Council and county commissioners suggested 12 changes to the plan, which was adopted in 1999 and is intended to be the blueprint for how the west of Steamboat area should grow in the next 30 to 40 years.

Among the major changes, the council and commissioners agreed to re-evaluate the requirement that one-third of all housing be affordable, eliminate special fees for regular city services and allow housing density to follow physical and market constraints. The boards also stood firm on not allowing development to occur west to east. Instead, they stipulated that building and annexation should begin with land contiguous to city boundaries and move westward.

"I think the big thing is we didn't hear a whole lot of disagreement," County Planner John Eastman said.

Eastman said the most common comment heard Wednesday night was that the plan should keep the requirement of one-third affordable housing.

Before the plan was adopted in 1999, an affordable housing study was done for the county.

The study confirmed the demand for affordable housing, and officials then calculated how many regular-market houses would be needed to subsidize the cost of the affordable housing. The ratio they came up with was three regular-market homes for every affordable one.

"I heard a few people say that 33 percent was important," Eastman said.

Resident Stuart Orzach said he would like to see the affordable housing study updated.

"We need to update it and see what the needs are now and then decide to raise the requirement, if necessary," Orzach said.

County Planner Jim Gossen said he also heard comments about the requirement for development to occur from east to west. Some residents questioned why the last part of the phasing should be on the west side of the plan, which borders the already developed Steamboat II and Sliver Spur subdivisions.

Other residents posted comments on bulletin boards, some noting that transportation should go in first, that the city and county should step up and provide the needed infrastructure, and that commercial development should follow residential development.

Residents were encouraged to fill out comment forms that asked whether they agreed with the council and commissioners' proposed changes to the plan.

Those comment forms can be picked up at the county planning department office or online at the county's Web site, www.co.routt.co.us.

The county and city plan to finish the draft by August or September, and public input about the draft will be taken until the end of June.

"Now is the time to speak up. If we are going to make major changes to the plan, we need to know now. Don't wait until the draft comes out," Eastman said.

Wednesday was the only open house planned before the draft comes out, but Eastman said he would be meeting with various stakeholders. He plans to gather feedback from homeowners associations west of Steamboat Springs, the Steamboat II Water and Sanitation District and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. Eastman said he would be available to meet with any groups interested in the west of Steamboat plan update.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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