Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Steamboat Springs City officials next week will consider a temporary ban on demolition permits for historic structures.
The Steamboat Springs City Council voted, 5-1, Tuesday night to consider a 90-day ban, or moratorium, on building and demolition permits that involve historic structures. A moratorium would allow time for consideration of historic preservation issues raised by a passionate crowd at Centennial Hall. City attorney Tony Lettunich will prepare two separate moratoriums - an "emergency" moratorium that the City Council could enact immediately, and a standard moratorium that would require two public hearings - for City Council review next Tuesday. Lettunich said existing city regulations designate any building that is 50 years old or older as historic.
The discussion about historic preservation arose during presentations by the city's Historic Preservation Advisory Commission and a community group called Partners in Preservation. Both groups cited an increasing vulnerability of Steamboat Springs' heritage in the face of widespread growth and development.
"We've already had eight demolition requests this year, which is more than double previous years," said Pam Duckworth of the Advisory Commission.
Duckworth also is a member of the preservation group, which cites a lack of city-regulated protection for historic buildings.
"The Lyons Drug building could be sold tomorrow to new owners who could demolish it," Duckworth said, referring to the Maxwell Building on Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat. "Community character, once lost, can never be regained."
City Councilmen Towny Anderson and Ken Brenner strongly supported the quick implementation of more stringent historic preservation regulations.
"If we do nothing, the market will define community character," Brenner said. "If we take action now, we will at least have the option of preserving what we have."
But City Councilman Steve Ivancie, who cast the lone vote against consideration of a moratorium next week, said such an ordinance would restrict the rights of property owners to change and develop historic homes or buildings on their land.
"What is wrong with a property owner protecting their options?" Ivancie said.
"There is a huge investment that's made by somebody in their property," added City Council President Susan Dellinger. "I'm hoping we can see both sides to this story."