If you go
What: Meeting of the Historic Structure Policy Review Committee
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.
Call: City offices at 879-2060 for more information
Steamboat Springs A day after the swearing in of a new Steamboat Springs City Council, a committee established by the former council will convene for the first time.
The Historic Structure Policy Review Committee, a citizens committee created to evaluate the city's current historic preservation ordinance, begins its work at 4 p.m. in Centennial Hall on 10th Street. Current historic preservation policies require that demolitions and alterations to structures more than 50 years old enter a mandatory review process with the city's Historic Preservation Advisory Commission. Compliance with the commission's recommendations is voluntary.
In September, the City Council enacted a moratorium banning the demolition of structures more than 50 years old. The move was described as a "time-out" to allow the citizens committee to be created, meet and formulate recommendations. The moratorium followed a broader-reaching emergency moratorium that halted even minor renovations to older homes throughout the city for weeks.
The current moratorium is in effect until March 1, effectively giving the committee until that date to submit its recommendations to City Council.
The City Council members who most strongly supported the moratorium and reevaluation of the ordinance, however, are no longer in office. Council members Towny Anderson, Susan Dellinger and Karen Post were not reelected, and Councilman Ken Brenner was term-limited. Councilman Paul Strong, who did not support the emergency moratorium but was won over by the second, demolition-only version, was also term-limited.
Some of council's newly elected members were vocal critics of the moratoriums leading up to the election. Jim Moylan, chairman of the citizens committee, noted that it would be the new City Council's prerogative to possibly dispense with the committee.
"I wonder if the City Council is going to fire us before we start," said Moylan, a Steamboat attorney. "I hope they honor what the prior City Council did."
It looks as if Moylan has nothing to worry about. While he said he would consider repealing the moratorium, Councilman Jon Quinn, who defeated Post in last week's election, said he supports the committee.
"I think it's important that the committee follow through with its tasks," Quinn said.
Quinn said he believes installing a moratorium presupposes that stricter historic preservation policies are needed, and he's not sure if that's the conclusion the committee will reach. Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, who defeated Anderson last week, said she also supports the committee.
"I absolutely fully support the committee doing that work and taking a look at our regulations," she said.
Moylan is joined by six other Steamboat residents on the Historic Structure Policy Review Committee. Members were chosen to represent a broad base of opinions about historic preservation.
"We tried to balance the group more or less between those that appeared to be strong property rights advocates, historic preservation advocates and neutral," Planning Director Tom Leeson said.
Committee members Kathe McCoy and Arianthe Stettner were chosen by city staff to represent advocates for a historic policy. Despite her label, Stettner said she is entering the process with an open mind.
"I'm going for common sense and efficient use of limited resources," Stettner said. "Once you've lost something historic, it's gone forever. I'm not advocating a position; I'm just pointing something out."
Committee members Garrett Simon and Anita Hawkins are advocates for private property rights. Hawkins is a new addition to the committee and is replacing Dena Shively, who was appointed initially but decided not to participate. Hawkins, an appraiser, hopes to see measured recommendations from the committee.
"I'm interested in maintaining the historic qualities of downtown, but at the same time, not infringing on people's property rights to the point that it devalues their property," she said.
Joining Moylan as neutral committee members are David Patterson and Tim McCarthy. It will by Moylan's charge to corral the broad spectrum of opinions on the committee into a workable body that can produce a product.
"That's my job; to try and help that committee find consensus and common ground," Moylan said. "I'm optimistic about the process."
City Manager Alan Lanning said that Gary Severson, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, has been tapped by the city to serve as a facilitator for the committee through its first couple meetings and at later meetings if he is needed.
Lanning said today's meeting will largely be an opportunity to establish a framework for discussion and decide how often the committee will meet. All of the committee's meetings are open to the public.
- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org