Steamboat Springs At their first meeting Wednesday, members of the city's Historic Structure Policy Review Committee established a framework for a process that could lead to a new city approach to regulating historic structures.
The committee did not, however, address the possible repeal of a temporary moratorium on demolition of structures more than 50 years old in Steamboat.
In a 4-3 vote during Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, the new council will consider the first reading of an ordinance that would repeal the moratorium. The moratorium was instituted in September by the previous City Council, which also established the citizens committee to re-evaluate the city's current historic preservation policies. The previous council thought the moratorium was needed to halt demolitions while the committee did its work.
After Wednesday's meeting, committee chairman Jim Moylan said he wasn't sure if the committee needed the moratorium to remain in place for its work to be worthwhile. His initial reaction was that it doesn't. He said the possible repeal of the moratorium would be discussed at a future meeting.
In introductory remarks, the committee's other six members - selected by city staff to represent the viewpoints of property rights advocacy, historic policy advocacy and neutrality - expressed a willingness to be open, while acknowledging predispositions.
"I'm here with a completely open mind to create something that's good for everybody," committee member Kathe McCoy said.
City Manager Alan Lanning gave the group a deadline of March 31 to create an ordinance to recommend to City Council - or to recommend that nothing be changed.
"You've been chosen as a group of reasonable adults to produce an ordinance," Lanning said. "It should represent what the community value is."
Historic preservation has been a contentious issue since earlier this year, when the previous City Council - troubled by a reported increase in the number of demolition permit applications - enacted an emergency moratorium that halted even minor renovations to structures more than 50 years old. The current demolition-only moratorium replaced the emergency ordinance a few weeks later.
Those who hope to preserve the city's historic resources criticize the city's current historic preservation policies because there isn't mandatory compliance. At the same time, the thought of mandating the historic preservation of privately-owned buildings and homes has mobilized residents who believe property rights are paramount.
However, members of the committee disagree on the definition of "historic" as something that is merely more than 50 years old.
Committee member Tim McCarthy said he hopes the group can erase that divisiveness with an ordinance "that's good for the community, not just some of the community."
Committee member Garrett Simon, The Atira Group's vice president for development, said the committee has been presented with a valuable opportunity.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for something to come out of this that increases value in our community," he said. "I wouldn't be here if the character of Steamboat wasn't what it is today."
The next meeting of the Historic Structure Policy Review Committee is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 28 at Centennial Hall.