Routt County On Aug. 21, your City Council took a very determined step by approving an emergency 90-day moratorium on accepting applications for building or demolition permits affecting any exterior aspect of any "historic structure" (any structure more than 50 years old) within the city limits. As was clearly discussed at that meeting, this emergency measure will allow a discussion to take place in which the community can decide what policies should be put in place to identify and protect our historic resources.
We applaud the courage of the City Council and appreciate the other individuals and organizations who advocated for this moratorium. We welcome the discussion about how the community wants to protect its historic resources. To that end, we would like to put forward the following points for consideration:
- Steamboat Springs was one of the first communities in the nation to be named a "Preserve America Community" in 2001. Furthermore, the Steamboat Area Community Plan and other documents identify the historic character of Steamboat Springs as an aspect valued by the community. Despite this, there is nothing that prevents the demolition of historic structures.
- The city of Steamboat Springs is registered as a "Certified Local Government" under the National Preservation Act Amendments of 1980. By definition, CLGs "are those local municipalities that have enacted a local preservation ordinance which meets certain standards." There are currently 39 CLGs in Colorado, including most of the mountain ski resort towns. Steamboat Springs is one of only three CLGs in Colorado without mandatory compliance to a preservation ordinance.
- The current emergency 90-day moratorium prohibits new applications for the demolition and exterior alteration of any building older than 50 years. At the City Council meeting, the council agreed that a follow-up ordinance will be adopted within the next 90 days releasing owners of these structures who intend to make certain repairs, alterations, or additions to their buildings. The follow-up ordinance will not allow demolition of these structures until the moratorium is lifted or terminates. In addition, the follow-up ordinance will provide for an appointment of a citizen committee to gather public input and make recommendations to council determining, among other things, the definition of a historic structure and if and how the community would like to protect its historic resources.
- Not every structure older than 50 years may be deemed historic. It is our hope that the appointed citizen committee and the City Council will define "historic structure" to mean a building that is significant enough to be eligible for listing on a duly adopted historic register (county, state or national). This would be in line with the accepted definition used by State Historic Preservation Offices and the National Park Service. Not every building currently covered by the emergency moratorium will meet this definition.
We realize there is much work to be done toward adopting a comprehensive Historic Preservation Ordinance that protects our valuable historic resources. Discussion leading to such an ordinance needs to involve many different interests. We can continue to do what we have been doing, expecting a different result, or we can acknowledge that what we have been doing is not working and take steps to preserve the character of our community.
We hope this discussion will lead to an ordinance that we can all be proud of.
Patrick Delaney, Kathy Cline, Dave Epstein, Clark Kreger, Jim Heckbert, Todd Hagenbuch, Arianthe Stettner, Nancy Graves, Candice Lombardo, Pam Duckworth, Johnny and Gigi Walker, John and Cindy Wither, and Cami Bunn