Council completes review

Area west of Steamboat must include affordable housing

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Residential development west of Steamboat Springs must include 15 percent affordable units, but that percentage would ideally be higher, the Steamboat Springs City Council agreed Tuesday.

The council is the last of four city and Routt County boards to review the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan's adoption draft. The plan lays out city and county officials' vision for the area west of Steamboat.

The council: Passed a resolution changing the criteria for adding properties to the Urban Growth Boundary. The boundary defines areas that likely will be annexed into Steamboat Springs; officials have said the old criteria for inclusion into the boundary are too strict.

Approved the submittal of a grant application to the Colorado Department of Transportation for up to $590,000. If the grant is approved, the money would go toward a new Steamboat Springs Transit bus and expansion of transit service.

Determined the scope of work for the airport's master plan. The council decided earlier this year to do two studies of the Steamboat Springs Airport: a master plan and an alternatives study.

Approved a resolution stating the council's understanding of deed restrictions concerning lots sold by the city to residents in the Miller-Frazier and Fairview subdivisions. The city intends to uphold and enforce the deed restrictions, which are part of a disagreement among neighbors concerning what could be built on the lots.

The draft council members saw Tuesday included a 15 percent requirement for affordable housing; that number was lowered from the 33 percent required in the original plan. The draft also proposed a 33 percent goal for affordable housing that would aim for housing beyond the 15 percent requirement.

Council member Kevin Kaminski said the goal was a good idea but that it would not work.

"In theory, it sounds great," Kaminski said. "But we might as well call it the non-development west of Steamboat plan. If we put it too high, we're just going to be back here in a couple of years" lowering the percentage, he said.

Elizabeth Black, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, said that setting a high goal is good. However, she said, it would be better not to use a percentage for a goal. She suggested that, instead of a percentage, the council include language that says officials are looking to "maximize" or "optimize" the amount of affordable housing. Black said she thought developers would support that language more.

Mary Brown, who owns a majority of land identified in the plan, also did not like setting a specific goal. She said the 33 percent in the original plan was a disincentive for developers. Having that number in the plan, even as a goal and not a requirement, could be unattractive to developers.

"It's very easy for an applicant to infer that that's what must be included in this application," she said.

Rich Levy, a board member of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, said alliance officials like the idea of having a goal of 33 percent without changing the 15 percent requirement. Having a goal, he said, would help the city reach its ideal.

"The city should realize that for annexation there needs to be some benefit for the city," Levy said.

The council agreed to keep the 33 percent goal and to keep the requirement at 15 percent.

The plan will be up for adoption by the council, the Routt County Board of Commissioners and the city and county planning commissions on a meeting date that has not been set.

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