Step approved for roundabout

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The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission approved on Thursday an early step in the approval process for a project that would include a roundabout at a Routt County Road 27 intersection.

Commissioners voted, 6-0, in favor of the vacation, realignment and rededication of the county road for the fourth phase of a county project.

Reviewed and approved 6-0: A resolution adopting the Town of Hayden Comprehensive plan and 3-Mile Area Plan as sub-area plan components of the Routt County Master Plan.

Approved 6-0 without discussion: The Miller Creek Land Preservation Subdivision Exemption to create four five-acre building lots and a 121-acre remainder parcel. Land preservation subdivisions allow developers to build more than normally allowed, but in return they must provide a remainder parcel, which is open space.

Approved 6-0: An amendment to the Riverbend project, which is one mile west of Steamboat Springs and south of U.S. 40. The petitioners asked to amend the project's planned unit development, which is a development that goes outside the boundaries of code yet provides public benefit. The project was amended to eliminate a proposed restaurant and add eight duplex cabins, creating 16 one-bedroom units.

Approved: Four aspects of a project by Jay and Anne Muhme on the east side of the Milner area. The Routt County Board of Commissioners will hear three of those four items on Tuesday.

Tabled in a 6-0 vote: Discussion of two aspects of the Alpine Mountain Ranch Land Preservation Subdivision, which is located on Routt County Road 24 across from the Haymaker Golf Course. The tabled matters were the land preservation subdivision and a conditional use permit. Those items will be heard by the Planning Commission on June 1.

The phase proposes three changes: the realignment of Routt County Roads 33 and 27, the addition of an exit tunnel from Twentymile Mine and a roundabout at the five-point intersection of County Road 27.

The roundabout raised protest from area stakeholders. Paul Draper, county road and bridge director, told them safety is his first priority.

"The statistics tell us, at some point in time, that we're going to have an accident at that intersection," he said. "We're going to physically force the driving public to slow down."

Dick Klumker, a truck driver from Yampa, said roundabouts are intended for a constant flow of traffic and that they are only for traffic that is homogenous, not for cars and trucks together.

"They're not a real answer to safety," Klumker said. He said that an acceleration lane would be better and more cost-effective.

Mary Brown, speaking on behalf of Xcel Energy, said people can't mitigate a problem that doesn't exist.

"You kind of have a solution in search of a problem here," she said.

Planning Commissioner Terry Hunter said that he wanted to see action from Xcel to set up a rail haul system to the mine. Xcel has committed to creating a rail spur to end its truck hauling on county roads.

"The sun needs to be setting on the truck hauling of coal," he said.

Planning Commission Chair Don Alperti agreed.

"We are tired of dealing with trucks," he said.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will hear the vacation petition on Tuesday.

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