In other action
- The second reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 26 of the Steamboat Springs Municipal Code was postponed until Sept. 25
- Council unanimously approved a review of the Local Marketing District budget
- Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting All Seasons Court as a street name in the city
- Council unanimously approved the dedication of additional rights of way in Ski Time Square
- Council unanimously approved a lease agreement for international bus driver housing at 525 Dabney Lane and 690 Amethyst Court
- Council unanimously approved a lease agreement extension between the city and Vectra Bank
- Council unanimously approved an ordinance amending Sections 25-1(15) and 25-50 of the Utility Code to confirm the requirement that each premise be served by a separate meter and curb stop
- Council unanimously approved an ordinance approving a contract to buy and sell real estate between the city and RRJLC Investments to allow for the future construction of the New Victory Highway in west Steamboat
- Council unanimously approved planning commission referrals that included the re-zoning of property near the Steamboat Barn Village and Yampa Valley Medical Center and the approval of a permit application for music festival to be held at the Knoll Parking Lot from Jan. 5 to Jan. 14.
Steamboat Springs Almost one month after enacting a ban on demolitions and exterior alterations of historic structures, the Steamboat Springs City Council has significantly reduced those restrictions.
The council voted, 4-2, on Tuesday night to replace an emergency moratorium enacted Aug. 21 - which prevented the acceptance of applications for building permits that could result in the alteration of an exterior aspect of, or demolition permits for, any building more than 50 years old - with a moratorium that applies only to demolitions and also tightens the definition of a historic structure to one that is not only more than 50 years old but also eligible for inclusion in the Routt County Register of Historic Places. The new moratorium will be in effect until March 1.
The absence of Council-woman Karen Post - who was in the 4-3 majority that moved the ordinance to its second reading - presented the possibility that the council would be stuck in a 3-3 tie. But the "demolition-only alternative" was limited enough to win over Councilman Paul Strong, who voted against the emergency moratorium and the first reading of the "regular" ordinance. The ordinance defines demolition as removal of two-thirds or more of the linear perimeter walls of a structure.
Strong said it was important to pass a new ordinance Tuesday to avoid being stuck under the emergency moratorium any longer.
"We need to get the emergency moratorium off the books," Strong said.
The moratorium's supporters said the inconveniences caused by it were unintended and that the new ordinance accomplishes the initial intention: to put the demolition of historic structures on hold while the city revisits its historic preservation ordinance.
"This allows the vast majority of people to return to business as usual," Councilman Ken Brenner said. "I'm going to support this because I think it facilitates a process."
Representatives from Partners in Preservation - the organization that initially petitioned the council to enact a moratorium - said they supported the demolition-only ordinance and presented materials that professed the limited effect the new moratorium would have.
Using data from the county assessor's database, they said 454 homes in Steamboat were built in 1957 or earlier. The organization estimates that only 20 to 25 percent of those homes are eligible for inclusion in the Routt County Register of Historic Places. The group also noted that those 100 or so homes would be affected only if the owners applied for demolitions.
Councilman Loui Antonucci, who said he was "fundamentally opposed" to any moratorium and voted against the ordinance, said it still goes too far.
"This is a huge thing we did," Antonucci said, "even if it only affects one person."
The topic continued to elicit a large amount of public comment.
Former City Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner reiterated claims that the moratorium would affect only a small number of structures for a short period of time, allowing time for the community to "gather together in civil dialogue without the pressure of losing resources in the interim."
Others bristled at the notion of their homes being claimed as a community resource.
"My personal property is not a community asset," said Larry Freet, who lives on The Boulevard in Old Town. "It's a personal asset."
The sentiment was echoed by Councilman Steve Ivancie, who said the moratorium disrespects the community's ability to have a discussion.
"You don't need a moratorium to have a discussion," Ivancie said. "I cannot, in all good conscience, change my mind just because some of my fellow councilmen have."
The city's existing historic preservation ordinance remains in effect and will continue to apply to all structures more than 50 years old that are not blocked by the moratorium. The existing ordinance is one of mandatory review but voluntary compliance. After considering the recommendations of the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, the most the city can do is impose a 90-day waiting period on projects.
The council directed city staff Tuesday to move quickly to organize a committee of residents to re-evaluate the existing ordinance. The council also authorized city staff to hire a facilitator to guide the process of revisiting the historic preservation ordinance.
Anyone interested in serving on the committee that will reexamine the historic preservation ordinance should call city offices at 879-2060.
Also Tuesday, the council unanimously approved ordinances approving the $4 million purchase of the Iron Horse Inn on Lincoln Avenue east of downtown Steamboat and the financing of that purchase. The city hopes to remodel the inn into affordable rental housing for its employees and possibly other members of Steamboat's workforce. Total costs related to the acquisition are $5.8 million.
City officials said a lack of affordable housing in Steamboat has hindered efforts to retain and recruit talented city staff. Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord estimated the city would lose nearly all of its department heads and mid-management staff members to retirement in the next 10 years.
The City Council has identified affordable housing as a priority. Earlier this year, it approved an inclusionary zoning and linkage fee ordinance that requires developers to either build affordable housing for each new development they undertake or pay significant fees to the city to help fund affordable housing projects.
"We're showing that the city has the same commitment that we're asking the community to make," Brenner said.