Commission examines land-use amendment

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— The Routt County Planning Commission tonight will review plans for a pilot program intended to preserve open space south of Steamboat Springs.

The program implements elements of a tool called transfer of development rights; however, county planners say the program is more accurately described as an amendment to the county's land preservation subdivision program.

The subdivision pro-gram all-ows developers to build more homes than the state's standard lot size allows. In return, developers agree to leave the remaining land as open space.

The land preservation subdivision program's open spaces are set in a connected parcel of land. The amendments propose allowing developers to apply the same concept to separate parcels of land.

The proposed program is one of eight tools identified as ways to protect open space and preserve rural areas. The other seven tools have been implemented, according to county planning staff.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners has asked the county's planning and legal departments to explore modifications to the land preservation subdivision program. The amendments would apply to land identified in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan as the south of Steamboat area, which includes land south of the city and north of Lake Catamount. The area was selected because of development pressure and its scenic value.

The program would give developers more flexibility than they now have. In addition to preserving natural areas, it would encourage building in areas where homes would be less visible.

The program would be similar to the land preservation program's simplified approval process but held to a more stringent standard. Officials would be required to consider several land-use plans before approving projects.

Planning commissioners have been asked to review several aspects of the proposed program, including whether it would be an effective tool for preserving open space. They may review the program's consistency with the Routt County Master Plan.

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