360 Ranch subdivision wins recommendation of approval


— The Routt County Planning Commission narrowly voted Thursday to recommend approval of a rural subdivision that could someday have one foot in the city of Steamboat Springs and the other in the county.

The subdivision, dubbed 360 Ranch, would create 11 home sites on 335 acres accessed via Routt County Road 42. The property is just west of the city limits and straddles the future urban boundary described in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. The plan describes how land within the boundary could someday be annexed into the city.

The Planning Commission voted 5-4 in support of a permit for the subdivision, after two hours of discussion that included a failed motion to kill such a permit. Commissioners voting against the proposal included commission co-chairman Jay Gallager, Fred Nichols, Wayne Adamo and Bill Norris. Gallager presided over the meeting in the absence of chairman Don Alperti.

The debate centered around the developers' request for two bonus building lots that would come with approval of a land preservation subdivision, or LPS. Developers also sought a right to develop the open space built into the subdivision in the future, if the land is annexed into the city.

Routt County's LPS ordinance rewards developers who are willing to cluster their home sites instead of creating one home site on every 35-acre patch, as allowed under state law. Clustering allows traditional agricultural activities on dedicated open space.

In the case of 360 Ranch, Wilton Development is seeking an exception to retain the future option of developing denser housing. Such housing would be built on two "remainder parcels" on the eastern side of their property, if they were someday annexed into Steamboat.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips and Assistant Director Mitchell Harvey recommended approval of the project. Phillips said planning staff based their conclusion on a desire to preserve the flexibility of the land within the urban boundary. One premise of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan is to create affordable housing that would be subsidized by the profits from estate lots like those proposed for 360 Ranch.

If Wilton Development is denied its plan by the Routt County Board of County Commissioners, in a hearing scheduled for Dec. 4, its alternative would be to develop nine, 35-acre parcels. Phillips said the 35-acre parcels within the urban boundary would be difficult to integrate into the plan.

"The developers were asking for some wiggle room so they could develop the property in accordance with the West of Steamboat Plan in the future," Phillips said. "We made our recommendation basically as a favor to Steamboat Springs so upon annexation, they can build a better comunity."


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