Our View: No need for 700 vote

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— The adoption of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and its subsequent 2006 revision were anything but a rubber-stamped government project. Rather, it took several years of work and input from elected city and county officials, planning departments, staff members, consultants and area residents.

The original WSSAP, adopted in 1999, provided a guide to future development from the western boundary of Steamboat II to city limits near the Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park. This area has been identified for years in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan as the most logical place for future urban growth.

Of course, in the years after the WSSAP's adoption, little happened in the way of urban growth there. The plan was updated in 2006 to help encourage development - primarily to address the city's need for attainable work force housing. Shortly thereafter, a development partnership led by Danny Mulcahy purchased 700 acres of land in the growth area and since has proposed a massive development that would include as many as 2,000 homes, many of them at price points considered "affordable" for residents.

While the proposed Steamboat 700 development certainly has numerous hurdles to overcome, one of them shouldn't be a municipal election on the annexation issue - an idea floated by some concerned citizens and entertained by at least one City Council member.

The WSSAP was created to encourage residential development west of town - specifically, residential development that would be affordable for at least some of Steamboat's work force. Now that we're on the cusp of attaining that goal, it is troubling that we would consider abandoning it.

There should be little debate that the Steamboat 700 property is the logical place for urban growth. Restricting growth here would only serve to push it farther away from Steamboat, a poor idea as described in the WSSAP:

"If residential growth cannot occur within the Steamboat Springs urban area, it likely will be forced to outlying areas such as Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Hayden and Craig. This will result in increased commuting time, road and infrastructure costs, traffic impacts, split family life and other social costs and higher costs of recruiting a work force to Steamboat Springs."

Development west of town should be an economic asset to Steamboat, especially as it pertains to attracting and retaining work force.

And while infrastructure and transportation concerns associated with Steamboat 700 are understandable, the absence of development there won't necessarily keep those issues at bay.

We worry the notion of a public vote on the annexation is the result of an emotional response to continued growth in and around Steamboat Springs. The reality is that Steamboat is a growing city with growing needs that won't just disappear because some of us want them to.

This certainly isn't a pitch to approve Steamboat 700's proposal as written. The road to the development's annexation will have its speed bumps, and that's a good thing. By assembling a negotiating team to oversee the specifics of the process, the City Council has put itself - and its constituents - in a position for success. The bottom line is we expect the city to negotiate an annexation plan and development proposal that serves the best interests of the community. However, we don't think the community needs to vote on whether to annex the land. That's a subject that already has been sufficiently discussed and addressed.

Comments

fish 6 years, 6 months ago

Hah written like a true spokesperson for the real estate agents and brokers that you represent so well. I have never seen another newspaper so obviously in bed with the real estate agents and developers than the Steamboat Pilot and Today.

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corduroy 6 years, 6 months ago

sad and true, the PEOPLE of ROUTT COUNTY deserve a SAY!! Our City Council may not be representing all of us that well

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dogd 6 years, 6 months ago

The Steamboat Pilot-Today is a truck designed for the purpose of hauling real estate and development advertising.

But that's not entirely fair-it also provides entry level journalists a chance to develop bad habits without the annoying fear of being corrected, proofread or edited.

A couple clever and valid writers work there, but they are forced to write glowing reviews of developers and realtors from time to time in order to stay around.

The overall 700 plan should be reviewed by the community and a vote should be taken for the purpose of forcing the developers to do thier fair share of damage mitigation.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow....The pilot has gone on record saying the people of Steamboat don't matter.

Interesting considering they rely on our money to function.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

When was the last time Steamboat held a city-wide vote for annexing property into city limits?

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id04sp 6 years, 6 months ago

This is outrageous. The Steamboat taxpayers should have a say in whether they take on the costs of infrastructure associated with developing this land. The ONLY reason the developer is waiting is so that he will not have to pay for all the roads, water and sewer improvements required to build houses out there.

It's time to get out the torches and the pitchforks. The people are revolting, and so is the City Council if they let this happen without a vote by the people who will pay for it.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 6 months ago

You you are right kiebasa. Annexing a parcel with several lots is no different than annexing SEVERAL THOUSAND lots???????

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elkeye 6 years, 6 months ago

The view of The Steamboat Pilot & Today that there is "no need for 700 vote" is about as accurate as their view on the vote (and support for) of the proposed $34 million recreation center. Dead wrong!

The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) and its subsequent 2006 revision were never voted on and approved by the residents of Steamboat Springs.

Unless the developer of Steamboat 700 is prepared to pay/bond "upfront" for ALL the associated infrastructure costs of the proposed annexation parcel (including upgrading U.S. 40 to handle the proposed traffic to/from Steamboat 700), the residents of Steamboat Springs should exercise their right of referendum.

The bottom line is if the City Council fails to negotiate an annexation agreement that requires the developer to pay/bond "upfront" all associated infrastructure costs AND serves the best interests of the current residents of the City of Steamboat Springs, the proposed annexation of Steamboat 700 should be rejected!

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contrarian 6 years, 6 months ago

Right On!! Power to the People!! We should disband the council and have elections every Tuesday on each and every issue the city faces. Don't people know this is a democracy and not a republic?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

CoNative- What's the difference between annexing the 700 or not? If it still happens, it still happens. Either way, it will still add homes, traffic, etc.

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playa46 6 years, 6 months ago

What excactly is the point in expanding steamboat? People here suffer both summers and winters of endless tourists, the last thing we need is for them to come here. We are already a thriving economy. So I just don't see it. And I think the reason why people really aren't getting a say in this is because the Council depends on tourists to keep advancing in economics. This is starting to sound like an oligarchy.

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armchairqb 6 years, 6 months ago

Even if the orignial West Steamboat Area Plan was voted on that was what in '99? What did the census say about the population at the time? 4 or 5 thousand ? Now we have 10 or 12 thousand and by the time the 700 gets built we may have 15 thousand. Damn sure the many should have a vote as opposed to the few!!!!

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424now 6 years, 6 months ago

The sad fact is it is the few opposing are the ones that write in this little thread here. We have been discussing the annexation of western Steamboat for longer than 9 years. We have been courting Mr. Mulcahy and the 700 for years now.

You would think these folks would want more customers in the market, paying sales tax and contributing to the livelihood of this little Colorado ski town. The long time homeowners should welcome some new neighbors but what is their response?

NO! NO! NO!

Stamping their feet and holding their breath in the face of progress. The workers of this little town holler "affordable housing" while all these opponents of growth scream "make the developer pay!" How do we expect to attract and keep a quality workforce, if you keep asking every developer to line the streets with silver?

My wife and I watch this very closely. We pay the insane rent and still manage to save. God knows how but we keep building that savings, hoping for development.

Bottom line, their is a present and pressing need for development on a large scale that could load the local market with some houses. Load it with enough to maybe, just maybe drop a few more dollars off those prices. New homes that could be picked up by those of us who have been working and saving in the hopes that one day a chance like the 700 will come along.

I say, come on 7!

700 that is.

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Ilike2dv8 6 years, 6 months ago

fish and dogg - Who are you kidding? The Pilot is no friend to Realtors, Car Dealers, Restaurants, Shop owners, Non-profits or anyone else that I can think of. They charge outrageous rates for poor quality ads and often even worse reporting. They may be a lot of things but they are hardly in bed with the business community, in fact quite the opposite they line their pockets extorting from them. As for a vote on the West of Steamboat Plan: just exactly HOW much money do YOU think the city should waste before it establishes a plan it can follow. To date there have been at least 25 to 30 public meetings and over $250,000 spent on adopting this plan and now you want to do it again: brilliant. I truly hope for Steamboat's sake the majority won't be led by such foolish and wasteful beliefs. We would have no middle class, no teachers, fire fighters, nurses, city or county employees to push the snow off the streets or provide basic services: If you don't like the actions local government is taking go to the meetings and let your voice be heard. Don't allow them to waste millions (literally) on countless studies, meetings and plans only to show up in the final hour and whine you don't like it. You really can't get more irresponsible than that.

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powderday 6 years, 6 months ago

The problem has to do with the speed of development. yes steamboat will grow, but all at once? this is a development that is the size of everything to the east of mt werner road.
think about taking the entire whistler area plus the growth on the mtn., and sticking it out west of town. It is easy to talk about 700 and 2000 houses, the traffic etc,, take a moment to drive out to the whistler area and really see the size of the new development.

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sbsmon 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm in agreement with powderday. I think we need to have a way to limit development if the pace of development is faster than the pace of the sales. If we annex the whole thing and let them develop it at their pace without any control over the process we are going to be in trouble.

Think about it. Silverview Estates has 129 lots and Heritage Park has 80 lots and it took 10 years to build out and there are still some vacant lots.

They are talking about as much as 2000 housing units over 20 years. That's 100 every year. There have already been comments published that they will be able to produce homes so fast and so efficient that it will keep anyone else from competing with them. Those comments have "real estate devaluation" written all over them.

I think anyone in Steamboat who has a home or condo and has an 80% or higher ltv ratio should be worried about this development and what it might do to the real estate values. If devaluation of existing housing occurs in Steamboat like it has in the rest of the county we could see ourselves in the same foreclosure mess as Las Vegas. We'll have Lenders with foreclosed homes they can't sell and borrowers with negative equity thinking it might be better t take the credit hit and walk away from their devalued house.

I'm not in any way saying the 20% yearly gains we've seen lately are a good thing. I do realize it's driving the local buyers out of town. I would be more than happy to see 10 years of property value increases that parallel inflation and stay in the 2-3% range. I believe pacing the development so it keeps prices elsewhere in the valley from skyrocketing is fine. We just need a way to contol the speed of the development to accomplish that.

My other thoughts are about where all these people are going to come from. If S700 can make affordable houses and lots of them, then some of the buyers will move from outlying areas like Hayden, Craig and South Routt. The question is; when people start moving from those areas who is going to buy the properties they are leaving. Will this create a vacuum and cause property devaluation in those areas.

This is not an issue affecting just the residents of the city. It is a county wide issue that will impact everyone.

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424now 6 years, 6 months ago

I like Dv8's take on this one.

Homeowners,

Get your head (and voice) in the game earlier folks.

All these homeowners complaining about devaluation while all the while paying lip service to those of us working in this town seem disingenuous. They waited and watched as the plans were refined and reviewed. They hemmed and hawed as study after study was done. They didn't show up for public discussions and now want their voices heard in the eleventh hour at fifty eighth minute.

We need the development. For the future of Ski Town USA we need to build some housing. We need somewhere the young families looking to build a life here can go to buy a house. This Nimby nit picking over details and requirements, you feel will change you little corner of the world, is redundant and extremely costly.

We do not need another $100,000.00 report to tell us how badly we need housing.

City Hall needs to know how many of us renters are looking to buy. City Council needs to see there are a vocal few trying to secure their inflated home values through delaying the developments in the boat.

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housepoor 6 years, 6 months ago

if I owned a house in Silverview or Heritage Park I'd be a little nervous about my value with 700 coming in

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sbsmon 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree 424 we need the development. It's the only thing that will keep prices from skyrocketing higher and higher. What we don't need is so much development that property values drop and our citizens suffer through foreclosures. If we aren't careful with the rate in which we let this development run, we could be putting Steamboat in the same credit crunch that the rest of the country is suffering through. If foreclosures start happening it's not going to bode well for any of us, renters or homeowners.

Your comment about local homeowners not paying attention to what has been happening is misdirected. I've been watching everything that has happened on out there for years. All along my impression of what was going to happen was staged development. When demand grew a new piece would be annexed and 50-75 housing units would be added in small subdivisions like West End Village.

I envisioned the individual property owners getting together and developing their properties when the western city boundary needed expansion as demand increased. I assumed the next piece would be the Sherlon property which is now owned by Overlook, and the last piece to go would be the Guire property on the hill above Silverview Estates which is now owned by Steamboat Victory. Until Steve and Mary Brown sold, I had not envisioned a tract home developer from Vegas coming in and buying out the owners and then running the show.

In case anyone forgot there are more properties included in WSSAP than the ones that S700 owns.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

Housepoor- I don't think Heritage Park or Silver Spur will have to worry. Heritage Park has a school in it's neighborhood going for it. Silver Spur has larger lots- 1/3 acre or larger, compared to what will go in at the 700.

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id04sp 6 years, 6 months ago

424,

We don't want the developers to line the streets with gold. We only want them to pay as they go instead of getting a taxpayer subsidy in the form of roads, water and sewer service.

If the development was being done by a state-chartered corporation, like a special purpose district for water or fire protection, etc., and the thing was being run by people who were not making a living from it, I would not argue with the city providing infrastructure. If tax money is going to be used to give someone a gift, it should not be to the developer who will make big profits from the project, but to the taxpayer who will live in the house and return money to the city instead of hauling it away in a Lexus.

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playa46 6 years, 6 months ago

Huh, after reading these posts I have different ideas. If we do have a new 700 acre lot, I don't think it would be so bad, just not so close to places like SilverSpur. After all, STMBT is all about tourists nad people coming to stay. Perhaps I need to do some more reaserch myself........

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424now 6 years, 6 months ago

sbmon,

I have two biases that I freely admit.

I am in the construction industry. I will ultimately be directly involved in any major development in the Steamboat Springs area.

I am a longtime long-term renter in Steamboat Springs.

So as not to appear altruistic these are motivating factors in my arguments. I am a member of a significant number of people who were not born here but decided it was the right place to settle and raise a family. I have been paying rent as my kids grew up. After they flew the coop I realized that the savings were suddenly growing to the point where home ownership became a real possibility for my wife and I. We are looking at the 700 as the only significant hope we have for owning a home in the Boat. I don't want to move out of town to buy but I can't afford a $1,200,000.00 house. It just isn't in the cards.

To those of you with enough time in and the wherewithal to afford a home in the Boat, God bless you and good on ya. I have watched this debate go round and round and still see no end to the political wrangling that holds up the only chance I have of owning a home in Ski town USA

Id,

Every single site I have started on had the services run to the street where we tied into them. Is it that the developers paid for those to be there? I hammered my first nail in 1988. That's not my part of it and I don't know for certain. I think I would have heard of that before now.

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colowoodsman 6 years, 6 months ago

There is no need for a vote, there is no need for 700, there is no need for city council and come to think of it there is no need for the Pilot either!

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