Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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 email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs 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.