Saturday, December 1, 2007
Steamboat Springs In its first go-round with the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, the Edgemont residential development on the south end of the Steamboat Ski Area received what some planning commissioners called the most strongly worded recommendation for denial they had ever seen from city staff.
On its second try Thursday, Edgemont passed unanimously.
Edgemont's first encounter with the Planning Commission made for a contentious meeting Oct. 11. Commissioners voted, 4-3, against Edgemont's application. The project, formerly known as Bear Claw III, has a vested approval from 1985, but The Atira Group has vastly altered plans for the development.
The city's transitional provisions for revision to a vested approval require that the new development application conform to current city codes to a degree commensurate with the degree of change to the vested approval. The project approved in 1985 included a massive condominium structure, an amenities building and a spa. The new proposal includes two large condominium buildings with seven smaller duplex buildings.
Although all planning commissioners and city staff agreed that the new proposal is greatly superior to the old one, the Planning Commission in October ultimately agreed with the planning staff's assessment that the new project should take further steps toward conforming to current city codes.
Since the denial, Atira officials have met with city staff and altered their application to the point that staff could support it. Atira reduced the height of the larger of the two buildings from 109 feet to 95 feet. The project also added a detailed plan for energy efficiency and will dedicate $1 million to off-site improvements.
The 130-unit project did not have to sacrifice much in square footage as a result of these revisions, due to architectural changes that moved living space inside the previously empty roof gables. The 225,000-square-foot project is smaller than the vested approval.
"That's a significant change," Assistant Planning Director John Eastman said. "It's staff's opinion that the proposal now clearly relates better to the surrounding development."
Eastman noted that the project probably wouldn't be approved if current codes alone were used and not the transitional provisions for a vested approval.
"It's kind of an unusual project we're dealing with," Eastman said.
Planning Commission Chairman Steve Lewis said that when he looks back on the Planning Commission minutes from the 1985 approval, he asks himself, "What were they thinking?"
Lewis said it must have been a time when people thought Steamboat "needed" development. Clearly, Lewis said, there is a different mindset now.
Garrett Simon, vice president of development for Atira, was pleased with the support from the planning staff and the ultimate unanimous approval of his project.
"We're at an exciting point," Simon said. "We're excited to be here with staff's support. It's been a long road. It's been a tough one."
In other action
In other action Thursday, the planning commissioners tabled for a third time a planned addition to the Sears Center on Shield Drive. Sidewalks have been the bone of contention with the development application, but a compromise was reached Thursday that will result in the applicant constructing a six-foot-wide sidewalk on Curve Court and an eight-foot-wide sidewalk on Shield Drive, except where a reduction to six feet would save some trees and shrubs.