Moratorium up for debate

Split council to take up historic structures issue tonight



5 p.m. City Council and staff reports; a resolution authorizing the city to act as the reviewing entity for the State Income Tax Credit Program for qualifying historic rehabilitation projects; first reading of an ordinance repealing a temporary moratorium on accepting demolition permits for "eligible historic structures;" second reading of an ordinance approving a contract to buy an undivided 20 percent interest in 17 acres; second reading of an ordinance for a supplemental appropriation

7 p.m. Public comment; planning commission referrals

— A controversial decision by the past Steamboat Springs City Council could take a step closer to being undone by the new one tonight.

The newly-seated City Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance that would repeal a temporary moratorium on demolitions to structures that could be considered historic.

If last week's City Council meeting is any measure, the draft ordinance will be a touchy issue; the item barely made it onto today's meeting agenda with a split 4-3 vote of the council.

The moratorium was instituted in September by the previous City Council, which also established a citizens committee to re-evaluate the city's historic preservation policies. The previous council thought the moratorium was needed to halt the demolitions of potentially historic downtown buildings and homes while the committee did its work.

Although all current council members have expressed support for the committee, some don't think the moratorium is necessary. The citizens committee, which met for the first time last week, has not taken a position on whether it thinks the moratorium should remain in place while it works to prepare historic preservation legislation recommendations for the City Council by March 31.

Although the committee hasn't taken a stance, Pam Duckworth, chairwoman of the city's Historic Preservation Advisory Commission and a member of the ad hoc group Partners in Preservation, is urging the City Council to leave the moratorium in place.

In a letter to council members, Duckworth challenged a claim made by Councilman Jon Quinn that the moratorium presupposes that more stringent historic preservation policies are needed. A moratorium is needed, Duckworth wrote, to prevent the committee's work from being undermined.

"If the city ultimately decides to prohibit demolitions, then it would be too late with respect to any demolitions that occurred during the deliberation process," Duckworth wrote.

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski requested the repeal ordinance. Despite the moratorium's limited scope - Routt County Regional Building Department Director Carl Dunham said "I don't know of anybody who has been affected by the moratorium" - Hermacinski said the repeal is necessary to "right a wrong."

"I don't agree that the moratorium should have been adopted in the first place," she said.

Hermacinski also said people have misconceptions about the moratorium that are leading to a negative public perception of historic preservation.

"If we remove that perceived punishment," people will be more open to historic preservation, Hermacinski said.

Councilwoman Meg Bentley, however, said any changes to the moratorium should come at the recommendation of the citizens committee, known as the Historic Structure Policy Review Committee. Bentley, who called the decision to consider the repeal "a spontaneous, rash move," said repealing the ordinance would be giving the committee a vote of no confidence.

The moratorium repeal ordinance is just one item on a packed City Council agenda. City Manager Alan Lanning said the council is catching up on items that were put off in the weeks immediately before and after the Nov. 6 election.

"We've sort of been piling things up for a couple weeks," Lanning said.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail


yeahbo 9 years, 5 months ago

Come one, come all to public comment and air your problems to council. Remember last week they immediately tried to solve the liquor license revocation issue of one citizen, so now you too should expect them to help you solve your personal injustices and neighborhood squabbles right there at council meetings.... Johhny on the spot! instant resolution.


Ilike2dv8 9 years, 5 months ago

Repeal it and start fresh, there are more effective ways to address this issue.


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