Steamboat Springs Citing visual impacts at the entrance to the Elk River Valley, city planning officials Thursday tabled an unconventional industrial development proposed for a site on Routt County Road 129.
Despite a staff report that found the development, known as the Aviator, was consistent with requirements for approval, members of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission were unanimously unwilling to sanction the project as presented. The commission voted 5-1 to table the application, with Commissioner Dick Curtis opposing because he preferred to deny the project. Commissioner Cari Hermacinski stepped down after disclosing she received a $100 donation to her Steamboat Springs City Council campaign from developer Brian Olson.
Hermacinski is running for an at-large council seat against incumbent Councilman Towny Anderson.
The Aviator proposal includes 12 live-work units, a single-family residence and 10 self-storage buildings with 260 total units. The development as proposed would total about 94,000 square feet. The site is on an elevated plateau on the east side of C.R. 129 near the Steamboat Springs Airport, at the former site of the Garden Pit.
Representing the developer, Brian Bavosi said the "spectacular" views from the plateau and other existing beauty at the site is what inspired the inclusion of employee housing units, while maintaining an industrial feel. Bavosi admitted, "The perception and appearance of this lot is very tall when viewed from (C.R.) 129," but argued that landscaping and interesting architecture would mitigate that concern.
"We feel the visual impact is minimal," Bavosi said.
Others disagreed. During public comment, Steamboat resident Bill Jameson pointed out a picture included in city planning staff's report that included the artificially superimposed live-work building looming over C.R. 129.
"I can't believe you're going to trash the entrance to the Elk River Valley with this building," Jameson said. "You're going to ride right by this thing, and it's right on the precipice."
Commissioner Scott Myller said he liked the project's architecture, but called the photo representation "damning evidence."
"Besides that, I would have supported this project," said Myller, who is also a candidate for the Steamboat Springs City Council and running against incumbent Councilwoman Susan Dellinger.
Homeowners from the nearby Game Trails subdivision also turned out to oppose the Aviator project, claiming the development is unattractive and too dense, among other concerns. Fred Duckels, whose Duckels Construction company is adjacent to the Aviator property, spoke in favor of the development.
Despite their concerns, several planning commissioners noted that the property is zoned industrial, and that the homeowners in Game Trails need to accept that whatever is built is going to look that way.
"Whatever we do here, it's all going to be zoned industrial," Commissioner Dana Stopher said.
The commission was originally scheduled to adopt a resolution for denial for the Edgemont development at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, but that item was postponed.
At the end of the meeting, commissioners got their first look at plans for the new Ptarmigan Inn at the base area. Commissioners provided suggestions regarding the project's pre-application, but took no formal action. The purpose of the pre-application process is to allow developers to bounce tentative plans and concepts off city personnel, and then incorporate the feedback into more formal plans.
In its tentative stages, the Ptarmigan Inn would include up of 39 ownership units with 27 lock-off bedrooms to increase nightly rental capacity.
Commissioners spoke highly of the project's architecture, but concerns were raised about the height variances it would require. The building as currently proposed would obstruct views of the south Yampa Valley from the ski area.
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