Our View: Repeal the moratorium


— The Steamboat Springs City Council is heading in the right direction with its ordinance repealing a moratorium on the demolition of potentially historic downtown buildings.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to move the ordinance forward to a second reading. It appears likely the ordinance will pass and lift the moratorium put in place by the previous City Council.

While we agree the historic preservation issue is an important one - and there certainly are some downtown structures worth preserving, we don't believe the rights of existing property owners should be put on hold while the community determines how and if it wants to save buildings and homes that may or may not be historic.

Fortunately, that community process is now under way. The Historic Structure Policy Review Committee met for the first time Nov. 14 and meets again Wednesday. The seven-member citizens group was charged by the previous City Council with evaluating Steamboat's historic preservation policies and determining what, if any, changes are needed. The committee has a deadline of March 31 to present its recommendations to City Council. Those recommendations could come in the form of a new historic preservation ordinance.

There's little doubt the city's current historic preservation ordinance is inadequate. The ordinance states that the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission must review any project that could alter the historic character of any historic structure. Historic structures, according to the ordinance, are any buildings at least 50 years old.

But while HPAC review is mandatory, compliance is not. After a maximum 90-day waiting period on such projects, property owners are free to proceed as they like.

It was the opinion of the previous City Council that too many property owners were doing just that. The moratorium on demolitions was put in place because of an increasing number of demolition permits for Old Town homes.

We understand the previous council's concerns, but we're even more concerned with the notion that property owners who bought their homes without any historic preservation requirements in place should now be forced to delay their projects - and incur increased costs - while the dialogue takes place.

We also believe the job of the volunteer Historic Structure Policy Review Committee (not to be confused with HPAC) could be easier without the moratorium and the divisiveness it created. The committee, which has issue-neutral members as well as those for historic preservation and those for property rights, has a unique opportunity to restore goodwill to the issue and provide a real, community-driven solution. This is the kind of bottom-up decision making that is too often lacking in local government.

Repealing the demolition moratorium is a step in the right direction. Letting the Historic Structure Policy Review Committee complete the task with which it was charged - and then strongly considering its recommendations - should move us even closer to resolution.


Oscar 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't really understand the rush to remove the moratorium until the Historic Structure Policy Review Committee has had a chance to do the task with which it was charged by the city council. Doesn't removal of the moratorium send the signal to them that the city council does not much care about what recommendations they will come up with on March 31, that they would rather proceed with demolition in advance of their report.


JustAsking 9 years, 6 months ago

Is it fair to limit owners who happen to own something built in 1957 to a set of rules that were not in place when they bought the property?

Reasonable people would say "NO, not in America!" If the city or any other group is so interested in preserving a particular property they should assume the financial burden , not the owner, and offer to buy it.

Look at the recent example of the ( established in 1914?) Crawford ranch. If it is so important to be "preserved" as a ranch then those who are in favor should come up with the 23 Million. (Frankly, if the numbers don't work as a ranch for someone who already owns the property it can't be financially feasible for a buyer who pays a premium for the property.)

Bottom line is museums are nice to visit but nobody should be FORCED to own one.


dimwitiguess 9 years, 6 months ago

The Pilot is the judge and jury. It knows how this city should be run. It seems that a bloodless coup has occurred or is in process. Why do we have elections if the Pilot can tell us what to do with its daily propaganda? And the only daily publication in town and a radio station to spread its wishes? What is the make-up and positions of the citizen reps on the editorial board and were there any opposing positions on that board? Why not tell us that?


retiredinss 9 years, 6 months ago

The Pilot needs to be much more sensitive to the people in these communities. While it certainly may print its' viewpoint, it must take care to not be the instrument of divisiveness, which it appeared to have been during the last election. That it supported the rec center and the voters overwhelmingly rejected it should tell the leadership of the newspaper that it is not being prudent in how it stewards its privileged position here.


Steve Lewis 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't mind that the Pilot expresses a viewpoint. I find "their view" offers a good set of pros and cons which amount to more information we all need for smart decisions. Whether the view is balanced, or taking one side, I usually find the information is worthwhile, and I can then better choose for myself, as we did with the Rec Center.

But I also believe the Pilot should elevate OUR VIEWS to a higher discourse. The increasingly active Pilot blogs could be much more useful as a community dialogue, but too often disintegrate with destructive and overbearing remarks that discourage participation. The blogs should require real names and limit the word counts. Abusers get fewer words per week, or none. The "removal suggested" feature could give the blog users some ability to tag destructive users. Until comments in the blogs have accountability, we can never expect city leaders to engage with our ideas in a larger public forum that could be a hugely constructive dialogue among us all.

It could reduce community divisions. With a face behind those views, the discourse would have accountability that could allow opponents to find common ground and move closer to solutions. Today a good blog dialogue is undone with petty, halfbaked tangents in every 4th comment. Yes anonymity has a value, but please not at the cost of responsible dialogue. The Pilot should give citizenship a larger presence on its website than it gives to anonymity -Steve Lewis


Steve Lewis 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree with "PT22"on one point, my word count was excessive by a whole paragraph. Sorry. But its easy to counter the argument on muting good ideas. Destructive comments are useless. Controversial comments are useful. Its easy to know the difference. There's no reason to allow insults.
And you have to agree, NONE of the greatest writers and figures in history were ever anonymous. The simple elimination of anonymity will raise the dialogue the most.


Steve Lewis 9 years, 6 months ago

O.K. I was wrong "PT22". Great leaders have written anonymously, and the Federalist papers are still important today. The authors shed their anonymity at some point, proving me both wrong, and right. But I concede anonymous writing has lead to very positive ends. You also help make my case for signed blogs. By suggesting I take the name of "halfwit", and offer other insults, you illustrate the drawbacks of anonymous blogging as well. Even as I concede you are right -that anonymous writing can be done well- the net sum here is still negative. Its become about my character failings rather than about my proposal of signed blogs. Doesn't make much of an invite for more intelligent voices than ours, does it? -Steve Lewis


Steve Lewis 9 years, 6 months ago

My apologies to those who really prefered to discus the moratorium. -Steve Lewis


agentofchange 9 years, 5 months ago

Hey guys... get a room.

Get rid of the silly last Councils follies.


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