Steamboat Springs Hoping to have mitigated the visual impacts that doomed it the first time, an industrial project at the entrance to the Elk River Valley on Routt County Road 129 will go before the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission for a second time tonight.
The development, known as The Aviator, proposes a collection of live-work warehouses and self-storage buildings totaling 94,000 square feet atop an elevated plateau - known as Marble Hill - on the east side of C.R. 129 near Steamboat Springs Airport, at the former site of the Garden Pit.
Despite a city planning staff recommendation for approval in October, the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission unanimously opposed the project because of its visual impacts. Steamboat Springs City Councilman Scott Myller, a planning commissioner at the time, called a photo-illustration that showed an artificially superimposed live-work building looming over C.R. 129 "damning evidence." Commissioners voted 5-1 to table the application, with Commissioner Dick Curtis opposing because he preferred to deny it.
Developer Brian Olson said many changes have been made to the project in response to the decision in October.
"We'll give it another try," Olson said. "We pretty much addressed all their concerns."
Olson said the site has since been graded, and building sites have been staked, allowing for more accurate representations of buildings. Also, two residential units have been removed from the top of the building closest to the edge of the plateau overlooking C.R. 129.
"I think that was probably our downfall at our first meeting," Olson said.
Architect Brian Bavosi said the removal of those two units was a painful cut because it reduces the amount of affordable housing the development will be able to offer.
"It's unfortunate, in my opinion," Bavosi said.
Homeowners from the nearby Game Trails subdivision have been strong opponents of the project, saying it is unattractive and too dense, but several planning commissioners noted that the property is zoned industrial and that the homeowners in Game Trails need to accept that whatever is built is going to look that way.
"The thing is, that was why I bought the property was that it was zoned light industrial," Olson said.
Nonetheless, Olson said the fact that the development is at the entrance to the Elk River Valley led him to make it as attractive as possible. Other changes since the project's first appearance before the Planning Commission include toned down colors and the addition of mason blocks to the bottom of buildings.
"Because it's an entry corridor, we tried to step it up a little bit," Olson said. "We're doing the best we can with light industrial."
Also today, the Planning Commission will review a draft of the city's Open Space and Trails Master Plan, a 75-page document currently under public review. Open Space Supervisor Craig Robinson said the presentation to the Planning Commission is one of the last steps necessary before the city and consultants create a final draft.
"I'm going to talk about some specific areas of the plan and how it relates to the planning process of the city," Robinson said. "The hard part's over now. The last part should be pretty straightforward."
The final draft will go through a similar process as the current one, which includes presentations to the city's Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, City Council and Routt County officials. The master plan was called for by city area plans and covers territory from west of Steamboat to the south valley.
While it's a document aimed at the future, Robinson said one of the most valuable things about the master plan is its inventory of existing conditions, such as total acreage and trails.
"I think what's good about it is it maps what we already have," Robinson said.
To achieve some of the master plan's future goals, Robinson said it will be important to establish a permanent funding source for the acquisition and maintenance of open space, which is currently paid for out of the city's general fund.
"Ours is one of very few in Colorado that does not have that," Robinson said. "The plan's been set forth, now we have to achieve these goals."
The master plan draft can be downloaded from www.steamboatsprings.net/index.php?id=626 or viewed at Bud Werner Memorial Library, City Hall and the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services office. Robinson said public comment about the draft will be welcome at the Planning Commission meeting.
Planning commissioners also will review applications for two office buildings, a waterbody setback variance and an expansion to the city's Parks and Recreation maintenance building at today's meeting.