Moratorium faces scale-back

Demolition-only ban may reconcile some council differences


If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council Meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City offices at 870-2060 for more information


4 p.m. Executive session to discuss real estate

5 p.m. Staff reports; second reading of ordinances related to the acquisition of the Iron Horse Inn

7 p.m. Public comment; planning commission report; second reading of an ordinance imposing a moratorium on accepting applications for building or demolition permits substantially affecting any exterior aspect of any historic structure

— The absence of Councilwoman Karen Post at tonight's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting could mire the council in a deadlock when it considers an ordinance that would extend and modify an emergency moratorium that bans demolitions and exterior alterations of historic structures.

A divided council voted, 4-3, on Sept. 4 to move the ordinance to its second reading. Post was in that majority. Four votes are required for the passage of any ordinance. While Post's absence would mean a 3-3 tie if everyone votes the same tonight, the deadlock seems unlikely because of a "demolition-only" alternative.

Troubled by a reported increase in demolition permit applications for old homes, City Council members voted to impose the emergency moratorium Aug. 21. The moratorium prevents the acceptance of applications "for building permits that could result in the alteration of an exterior aspect of, or demolition permits for, any historic structure." Historic structures are defined by the ordinance as any building more than 50 years old.

The "regular" ordinance being considered now would cast a smaller net and tighten the definition of a historic structure to one that is not only more than 50 years old, but also eligible for listing on the Routt County Register of Historic Places.

Supporters of the moratoriums claim they are intended to protect the city's historic resources for a period of time while the city's historic preservation ordinance is revisited. That ordinance is one of mandatory review, but voluntary compliance. Revisions to the ordinance will largely focus on whether to make compliance mandatory.

But even the pared down moratorium was not enough to win over Councilmen Steve Ivancie, Paul Strong and Loui Antonucci at the Sept. 4 meeting. A demolition-only alternative, however, might do the trick. The alternative would remove "substantial alterations" from the ordinance's language and apply only to demolitions, defined as removal of two-thirds or more of the linear perimeter walls of an eligible historic structure.

"I'm going to try and keep an open mind about this," Ivancie said. "It has a chance with me, I'll put it that way."

Strong said he might be able to support a demolition-only moratorium as well, and Antonucci suggested the same. Also, some council members who voted in favor of the ordinance presented Sept. 4, such as Council President Susan Dellinger and Councilman Towny Anderson, have said they actually prefer the demolition-only alternative.

"That was what we had hoped to accomplish from the get go," Anderson said.


JLM 9 years, 7 months ago

The People's Republic of Steamboat Springs should simply provide a tax incentive for historic preservation. It is preposterous to consider something 50 years old as historic simply as a result of its age.

People should be able to do what they want with their own private property and government should not interfere to reduce or abridge these private property rights.

This is the first step toward "legislating taste" and creating an architectural committee which will tell people what colors they can paint their homes.

This is not a good thang!


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