Letter to the editor: Much work to do


— 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

Routt County


BigOil 9 years, 9 months ago

In the end it's you against me. What you think & value vs. what I think and value. No one wins in that situation because it's completely subjective. So the only way to remove the subjectivity is to defer to property rights. If I own a property I should be able to improve the property as I see fit - it's mine. You might not like it, you might feel it's counter to the "glory days" and it's your right to feel that way. But the government should not step in to protect your feelings over protecting my rights as a property owner. The rights of property owners is a much greater issue than the way you feel about something. The reality is that it is a very slippery slope once the government starts sticking its fat finger in this.

Can we please take down the "Downtown Renaissance" flags now?

Just so we are clear. The fifth and the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution provides explicitly for the protection of private property:

The Fifth Amendment states:

"Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

in my view restricting what a property owner can do for the sake of historical value is for all intents and purposes "public use." the only value to something being historic is for the enjoyment of the public.

The Fourteenth Amendment states:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Have we really had "due process of law" here? I'm not sure a hasty decision at a city council meeting passes the smell test of "due process of law."


Steve Lewis 9 years, 9 months ago

Having exchanged emails the past few days with many signors of the above letter, I remain frustrated that they brush aside my concern about the "carrying costs" of making an old home last another 50-100 years.

My own old home is typical, if not stronger than most. But it has sagging floors and some leaning walls. It is also a challenge to heat. The renovation to fix these items would be exorbitant in cost. The city spent $250,000 or more rehabilitating two small buildings at the Legacy Ranch.

We care a great deal about our carbon footprint. We have been content to not heat 50% of our house through the winter. That includes our bathroom and bedroom upstairs. The energy future will be an expensive, unpredictable carrying cost that cannot be brushed aside.

I have proposed this be like a conservation easement with terms agreeable to the owner. Just like we did with local ranchers. Others will want money to forego their right to redevelop(i.e. PDR's). My terms would add, if the city wants to freeze my house in time, it should pay the associated costs. And when my rock foundation gives out ?? Steve Lewis


stayinbalance 9 years, 9 months ago

I am having a hard time understanding this moratorium. It seems to me that not only are our rights as property owners taken away, but along with it, much of the local economy. How many people's livelihood depend on the growth and the construction industry here? I would venture to say quite a few! I work for a very small design firm and in the past week 2 of our projects were halted because of the "hysterical" society. These halts put at least 20 people out of work and cost the owners thousands of dollars! One owner paid over $35,000 in fees (which, you members of this elite society, fund affordable housing and your salaries!), submitted over a month ago, and now is being halted! I thought the moratorium couldn't be retroactive - another big lie by the elite society. I also have another huge issue with it. It is complete discrimination! All the people who could afford to remodel, add-on or completely rebuild their old properties will now be sitting pretty and able to sell for the "big" bucks. Those of us who have the small cracker boxes downtown will be told we cannot do anything to our falling down "Historical" houses and won't be able to sell them as no one wants 800 sq ft homes anymore. I suggest the historical society can buy them for a million each and then they can preserve them! For may of us, it is our retirement which will no longer exist. One more rant: I seriously question their knowledge of historical. One could argue that Colorado as a whole is not historical as it isn't old enough compared to the east. And further, one could argue that the USA isn't historical as we are babies compared to the rest of the world. How can anything over 50 years old be considered historical??? They say in their letter that historical will be defined - but by who? Since I am almost 50, I guess that makes me historical too? When did Steamboat become communist? I don't remember voting on that one. And when will council start to study issues before passing idiotic moratoriums whose affect will trickle down to every working person's livelihood here? I know Steamboat wants the working class out of here and here is another great example of how they are doing it!


bubba 9 years, 9 months ago

I would project, that if the council doesn't have something in place when this moratorium ends to incentivize owners of old homes to preserve them, then this moratorium will result in the destruction of more houses than it saved. If I owned a 50 year old house and was thinking of a remodel, I would be thinking of the end of this 90 days as the opening of a window before my property rights are permanently stripped, and would probably rush into a project to get it done before that happened.

Same thing happens with endangered species- if it is announced that a species might be listed, the legal hunters kill as many as they can in anticipation of the premium on legal pelts. When it is announced that a species may be de-listed, poaching all but ceases.

And what makes every 50 year old house historic, anyway? Did anything happen there? Someone famous live there?


fish 9 years, 9 months ago

I only have one question. When did old become synomis for historic?


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