Council polishes ordinance

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The Steamboat Springs City Council polished up its moratorium of building at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

In its second reading of the ordinance, the council said that the moratorium should be extended to Nov. 1 and that preapplications could be submitted Aug. 1. The council also said it could go back and change the ordinance to adjust to the needs of developers.

Last month, the council enacted a 45-day emergency moratorium on any new development or redevelopment at the base of the ski area. The intent is to have the city complete the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan before a rush of new development is approved.

The moratorium prohibits any development or final development plans from coming into the city planning department until the city adopts the base area plan and ordinances and code changes that go along with it. The council estimates that could take until Nov. 1. If it were to occur sooner than that, the moratorium would be lifted.

The council did allow for preapplications, which is the first step in the planning process and does not grant vested rights to property owners, to come in the day after the consultants are scheduled to complete the plan.

The council's main discussion Tuesday was developer Whitney Ward's request to allow development plans to be submitted to the city shortly after the consultants finish the base area plan. Ward said that the moratorium has investors in base-area projects jittery and that allowing development plans to go through sooner could help.

"If we lose momentum, we lose the historic opportunity to really start redeveloping at the base," Ward said. "Starting this thing up again is like trying to start a big locomotive."

Some council members said they were uncomfortable with the amendment because a state law stipulates that when a development plan is submitted to the city, it should be evaluated based on the ordinances and codes in place at the time of submittal. If those ordinances and codes changed before final approval, the development plan would still be subject to the prior set of guidelines.

After more research and as the plan update process moves along, Councilwoman Kathy Connell said changes could be made to the moratorium ordinance.

"I hope the attorneys will come back with something in a couple of weeks," she said.

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