Ski base area plan passes

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City officials have approved a plan for the ski area's base, but development will have to wait.

Steamboat Springs City Council members unanimously approved the Mountain Town Sub-Area Plan, with several amendments, on Tuesday night. In a separate vote, they also unanimously extended the moratorium on development in the area from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30.

The original mountain town plan was adopted in 1999 and was intended to set guidelines for improvements to the ski area's base, including pedestrian connections, parking and retail availability. The update, which began in 2004, was intended to include ways to redevelop and revitalize the base area.

Consultant Stan Clauson of Stan Clauson Associates presented the council with the updated plan, which will act as a guide for future development at Steamboat Ski Area. Updates to the plan include changes to roadways and pedestrian connections and affordable housing guidelines.

Although council members ap--proved the plan, they spent a couple of hours discussing amendments to its language.

One issue that came up is the setback restriction from Burgess Creek. The update originally set the setback for development at 50 feet from the creek's high water mark -- a number that developers have said would seriously limit the opportunity for development.

In their last meeting, the city's planning commissioners agreed that the requirement needed to be changed. City Council members agreed Tuesday, and member Kathy Connell said the issue was an important one.

"I think this setback issue makes or breaks the ability of a water amenity to be had," Connell said.

Melinda Sherman, an attorney representing Ski Time Square Enterprises, told the council that the company would not redevelop unless the plan gave a specific setback from the water.

The council decided not to specify a number yet.

A few people also urged the council to lift the moratorium on development as soon as possible. The moratorium was set to end Nov. 1.

Jane Blackstone, who is with the Base Area Reinvestment Coalition, urged the council to lift the moratorium so redevelopment could begin.

"Lift the moratorium as soon as possible, without conditions," Blackstone said. "Great things can happen."

The council voted to extend the moratorium to Nov. 30. In the ordinance passing the extension, the city states that the change is a timing and safety issue.

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

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