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Base area standards set

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Developers who want to build in the ski base area now have the guidance to do so.

City Council members unanimously approved Tuesday an ordinance adopting the Base Area Design Standards, which will determine the look of the ski base area.

The standards will act as a supplement to the Mountain Town Sub-Area Plan. Council members approved in October an update of the 6-year-old plan, which acts as a guide for redevelopment at the base area. Updating the guidelines at the base area is one of the goals of the urban renewal authority, which allows the city to capture property tax growth to improve facilities at the base.

The base area standards address a range of design issues, including building materials, pedestrian circulation and lighting. The document went through a series of reviews, including a joint meeting of planning commissioners and council members last week.

Among the issues officials grappled with the most during that meeting were affordable housing and whether to set a maximum height limit. Those issues were still on council members' minds Tuesday.

Member Susan Dellinger said she thought that the council should consider a maximum height limit because fire truck ladders can reach only about 105 feet.

Planning Director Tom Leeson told Dellinger that fire officials review projects and would not approve of one that could not be adequately fought in the case of a fire.

The ordinance the council approved this week also includes the addition of a planned unit development process.

Developers must go through a PUD process when they request variances, such as additional height, from the Community Development Code.

The process promotes affordable housing in the base area. Council members continued to wrestle with which specifics to set Tuesday.

"I don't think we can solve the employee housing issue tonight," council member Paul Strong said.

The council has been working to set citywide affordable housing regulations. City Attorney Tony Lettunich told the council on Tuesday that those regulations would supercede similar guidelines in the base area plan.

Council member Towny An--derson said he was willing to move forward with the ordinance as long as there was an understanding that new affordable housing regulations would supercede those set for the base area.

During public comment Tuesday, several people encouraged the council to approve the standards.

Jane Blackstone of the Base Area Reinvestment Coalition, or BARC, said the coalition supports the passage of the ordinance.

"BARC is very appreciative of the hours spent on this, and we are comfortable with the ordinance and the standards," she said.

Peter Patten, president of the development and land planning consulting firm Patten Associates, also urged the council to pass the ordinance.

"Everyone that's been involved with this should be congratulated," he said.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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