City could add 'teeth' to preservation law

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The former Steamboat Springs Bed and Breakfast, 442 Pine St., built in 1948, could be demolished within a month by its new owner. The city's Historic Preservation Advisory Commission recommended a 30-day waiting period before demolition, but after that period, the city's current historic preservation laws require no preservation action from the owner. The Steamboat Springs City Council will discuss a 90-day ban on historic demolition permits Tuesday.

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The Steamboat Springs City Council is considering extending the moratorium on demolition permits for old buildings such as this home at 428 Pine St., which was built in 1913.

On the 'Net

Read the city's historic preservation regulations on the Web at: www.steamboatspri.... Through the "Departments" link at the top of the page, select the City Clerk's office and then click "Municipal Code of Ordinances." The process to acquire a building or demolition permit for a historic building is detailed in Chapter 26, Article III, Division II, Section 26-84.

— In a grainy, black-and-white photograph in Centennial Hall, a building that once was the Steamboat Springs Bed and Breakfast on Pine Street can clearly be seen from the photographer's vantage point, across the Yampa River on Howelsen Hill.

Another aging photograph, this one taken from Fish Creek Falls Road, shows the bed-and-breakfast surrounded by open fields and a few nearby houses.

Both views are drastically different today.

Steamboat Springs has grown exponentially since the bed-and-breakfast was built in 1948. What once was a dominating structure in Old Town is now a building surrounded by neighbors and pavement, tucked away on a corner lot at Pine and Fourth streets.

On Monday, the current owner of 442 Pine St. applied for a demolition permit. Because the building is more than 50 years old, the application required a mandatory hearing with the city's Historic Preservation Advisory Commission. Pam Duckworth, the commission's acting chairperson, said the old bed-and-breakfast isn't eligible for listing on the city's historic register because the building's structure has changed throughout time, losing much of its architectural heritage.

The Advisory Commission recommended a 30-day period before demolition to allow the owner to consider preservation options.

And that, at least for now, is where the city's involvement ends.

"We have some very valuable resources that we're trying to preserve and protect," City Manager Alan Lanning said of the city's existing historic preservation ordinance. "But our ordinance, while it may have worked in some cases, really doesn't have the teeth that it takes to be consistent."

Considering moratoriums

The ordinance, Section 26-84 of the city's community development codes, has no language requiring a property owner to preserve a historic structure.

"Right now, historic preservation is a voluntary activity on the part of the contractor or owner," Lanning said. "I believe it is the intent of the majority of City Council to make it a mandatory activity."

On Aug. 14, the Steamboat Springs City Council voted, 5-1, to consider a 90-day ban, or moratorium, on building and demolition permits involving historic structures. City attorney Tony Lettunich is preparing drafts of two such moratoriums, one of which would be effective immediately and another that would be subject to a lengthier approval process. The City Council will address the moratoriums at its Tuesday meeting.

Meanwhile, the owner of the bed-and-breakfast also has applied for a demolition permit for the adjacent property, a residence at 428 Pine St. that was built in 1913.

At a July 9 Advisory Commission meeting, architect Marcus York said the owner plans to demolish the residence, which has a crumbling foundation, and replace it with a craftsman-style home.

"He definitely wants to knock that one down," Duckworth said.

Debating history

Duckworth was part of a large crowd at Centennial Hall on Aug. 14, when the City Council met with the Advisory Commission and members of the Partners in Preservation community group, which Duckworth said is "interested in preserving Steamboat's character" and is supported by Historic Routt County and Main Street Steamboat Springs.

The meeting fostered a lively debate about balancing historic preservation with the rights of homeowners, who could be impacted by an ordinance that restricts expanding or changing a home designated as historic. That debate will unfold in coming weeks.

Duckworth said that of the eight requests for demolition permits the Advisory Commission has seen this year - a number that already is double that of previous years, she said - most of the debates center around the value of historic residences in Old Town rather than commercial properties.

For the demolition of Rocky Mountain Wine & Liquor at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue, for example, the Advisory Commission recommended only a three-day waiting period, citing the "little historic integrity" left in the building, formerly a gas station.

Assessing impact

However, tightening the city's preservation regulations could put a clamp on homeowners' projects in Old Town, Councilman Steve Ivancie said.

"Where is the private homeowner in this whole discussion?" Ivancie said. "This would just increase the price of property in Old Town - talk about unintended consequences."

Linda Kakela, the city's director of intergovernmental services, said the city already is assessing the impact of tighter preservation regulations.

"The city is conducting a survey of all buildings 50 years and older," Kakela said. "We will have that information by the end of December."

By that time, the City Council could have several new faces. Five of the seven council seats will be on the ballot Nov. 6. At least two current members, Ken Brenner and Paul Strong, will not seek re-election.

Dave Epstein is the founder of the nonprofit salvage operation Home ReSource, which allows contractors and homeowners to donate building materials for a tax deduction. At the Aug. 14 meeting, Epstein made a thinly veiled reference to the upcoming election campaigns.

"We will support you," Epstein told City Council members, three of whom may be running for re-election. "You make this happen, and we guarantee we will go out and make sure you have all the support you need."

Comments

thecondoguy1 7 years, 4 months ago

50 years old is not very old, especially for a structure, in europe a building is old when it's 800 years old, what historic value can a old gas station have to most people. I will say it again if you want to preserve it or whatever, then purchase it and do what ever you want with it.

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Steve Lewis 7 years, 4 months ago

You have a lot of nerve. This is my home!! You are treating my home like its yours. Make a 105 year old house last another 50 for your viewing pleasure? Old wiring, old plumbing, very little insulation, some rot from 40 years ago? Mainain it and heat it for another 50 years? This is a burden I never bargained for. My property value just plummeted! Thanks a lot! Some community this is turning out to be. Steve Lewis, 410 Pine

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BigOil 7 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately, our city council is full of cowards. They refuse to put their money where their mouth is and continue to only consider restrictive practices that only result on costing citizens more money and not solving the problem. Instead of a moratorium on demolition, how about a tax incentive to keep it up? Instead of taxing developers to pay for affordable housing how about putting it on the ballot and let the people fund it if they vote to do so.

I think its reprehensible and unamerican that members of our government and our community would even consider doing this to a property owner AFTER THE FACT. A current property owner should not have to suffer because a few in our community can not get any more creative with a preservation solution than a moratorium. If they are so concerned with preservation, let them raise the money and buy these properties. Otherwise, I'd be happy to drive the bulldozer!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 4 months ago

Knowitall- you forgot "anti-spacing" after punctuationers, too. You crack me up! "anti-government, anti-community, anti-preservaton"...Are you a hermit living in the 4 Points shack after hours?

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 4 months ago

knowitall, you are finally making some sense...........

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Vince arroyo 7 years, 4 months ago

Please attend the CC meeting and voice your options. The people that are behind this will. property rights will be violated if this is passed. What's historical to some is not to others. The bed and breakfast was church before that. lets get facts right..SAFETY is the main concern here. As for the headlines City could add teeth to preservation law. thats what going on right now people are biting at each other heels. and why. the property owners should have a voluntary right to be added to this historical debacle. Thanks Steve lewis and Steve Ivancie and Sue Dellinger(lets hear both side of this.

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inmate2007 7 years, 4 months ago

Folks Mr Lewis devalued his own home http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20... and now he's unhappy.

What the tax break wasn't good enough? Did people laugh at you at cocktail party's? Did you leap before you looked?

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id04sp 7 years, 4 months ago

Steve,

Thanks so much for illustrating the folly of people who spend all that money to live in the city limits.

My little voice tells me that you've figured out that demolishing your "historic" home and replacing it with something that will sell for $200+ per square foot to out-of-towners is the motivation here. Anybody who can't see that this is a plan to make money in real estate is powerfully dense.

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BigOil 7 years, 4 months ago

What's wrong with a property owner improving THEIR property? If it increases in value SO WHAT? $200/sq foot is a bargain - I'll buy it for that much. 1 Steamboat & Wild Horse are getting $1000/sq ft

id04sp maybe you should read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USSR

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id04sp 7 years, 4 months ago

BigOil,

I said $200+. The sky's the limit. How much somebody will pay for a new house on a small lot surrounded by older, smaller houses is up to them.

Also, there's nothing wrong with a property owner improving their property as long as they obey the zoning laws. I can't improve my property with a truss shop, or a boat shed, or a sail loft, or any of that stuff without getting it rezoned for commercial/industrial use. I knew that when I moved in.

Oh, I also cannot build a fence, because the original developers were in the cattle business, and didn't want people interfering with cattle grazing on open range land.

That "historic" designation came with some benefits. Now, there are second thoughts.

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bubba 7 years, 4 months ago

ID, I think the most important part here is when you say 'I knew that when I moved in.' People who bought a house at steamboat prices and are now having the rules as to how they can enjoy their house did not have that benefit. This isn't about historical properties, or one person's choices whether to designate their home as historic, it is about the government infringing on the property rights that this country is based on.

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Steve Lewis 7 years, 3 months ago

ID: No I haven't received any tax breaks for joining HRC's registry. THere is a $20K tax write off if I renovate their way- as in "keep the single pane windows". At the time I was adamant, and they promised, I would not be restricted in my future options. No I am not looking to make $ developing my property. But neither am I happy to have its value encumbered this way. THere is a carrying cost of old homes that in 50 years will be far more than newer homes. The day will come when I should be able to excercise the same choices everyone else has. Do you want the govt. telling you what you do with your home?

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