City stalls plan adoption

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The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan adoption hearing will not happen as scheduled.

The Steamboat Springs City Council tabled review of part of the plan until April 18 -- the day the plan was to be adopted. The plan lays out city and county officials' vision for the area west of Steamboat; officials anticipate that most of the land will be annexed into the city.

Council member Towny And--erson proposed several changes to the plan. He took to task the introduction of the plan, which he said did not reflect the other sections.

"I see a clear disconnect," Anderson said.

He said officials' goals need to be made clearer in the introduction. Those goals, he said, include affordable housing, a community center and the fact that the area will essentially be a new town.

"I look at this as an opportunity to build a new town," Anderson said.

Tom Leeson, director of city planning, said that changing the introduction to that extent would require another review process. The draft update of the plan went through a public and formal review process this fall; the more recent draft was almost through another review process. The county and city planning commissions, as well as the City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners, were set to meet April 18 to adopt the new draft.

Anderson said, "The concepts are here. Are we willing to state them clearly?"

"I don't know that we're willing to do that tonight," council member Loui Antonucci said.

Mary Brown, who Leeson said owns about 85 percent of the land identified in the plan, said she was concerned about the council's conversation. She said that the review process has taken nearly a year and that there were countless meetings. It would be detrimental to make major changes at this point, she said.

The council agreed to have Anderson meet with Leeson and county planner John Eastman to discuss potential changes to the plan's introduction.

Anderson also raised a question that led to a discussion about overall planning in the west of Steamboat area. He wanted to know whether it was appropriate not to designate the location of a village center. A village center is a pedestrian-oriented commercial area.

Leeson told Anderson that the plan used to identify where the center should be, but the property owner of that area wanted more flexibility.

"I don't disagree with you; it's a conundrum," Leeson said. He deciding facility location sometimes is problematic.

Anderson said that the process of deciding where things should be has been confrontational instead of collaborative. He proposed a charette, or meeting, where people could come together to create a master plan for the land west of Steamboat.

Brown said she agreed that the process was confrontational. She said that annexation can't be done without a master plan, and that a charette wasn't necessarily the best idea.

Community members may not have the same ideas as the developer, she said.

"If the community's vision doesn't fit the needs of the person who is financing, you've wasted your time," Brown said.

The council agreed that the proposal should state that a master plan should be in place before annexation of an owner's parcel.

The council voted, 7-0, to stop discussing the plan after 10 p.m. Members did not get to other sections of the plan, including the part about affordable housing requirements. Because the council tabled review of the rest of the plan to April 18, the adoption hearing will be moved to a later date.

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