A portion of this land near Emerald Mountain could some day be home to a large neighborhood if Lyman Orton can convince the City of Steamboat Springs to add acreage to Steamboat's Urban Growth Boundary. Orton has not submitted a development application to local government, but he is among five individuals and development entities seeking an enlarged growth boundary, which is a precursor to annexation.

Photo by John F. Russell

A portion of this land near Emerald Mountain could some day be home to a large neighborhood if Lyman Orton can convince the City of Steamboat Springs to add acreage to Steamboat's Urban Growth Boundary. Orton has not submitted a development application to local government, but he is among five individuals and development entities seeking an enlarged growth boundary, which is a precursor to annexation.

Emerald development proposed

City, county scrutinize amendments to urban growth boundary

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5 seek amendments to urban growth boundary

Four of the five propose to create affordable housing units.

- Butch Dougherty, represented by Dan Wilson, proposes one dwelling on a half-acre lot

- Steamboat 700, represented by Patten Associates, seeks 190 dwelling units on 185 acres

- 360 Village/Wilton Development, represented by TST Inc. Chris Erickson, proposes 110 to 125 dwelling units on 240 acres

- Alex Koftinow, represented by Vicky Hanna, proposes 26 dwelling units on 40 acres along the Yampa River near Tree Haus

- Lyman Orton, represented by Towny Anderson, proposes 300 to 475 dwelling units on 464 acres

Urban Growth Boundary hearing dates

- 5 p.m. July 10, Centennial Hall: Steamboat Springs Planning Commission expected to make recommendations on all five requests

- 5 p.m. July 17, Commissioners' hearing room at the Routt County Courthouse Annex: Regional Planning Commission expected to make recommendation on all five

- 5 p.m. Aug. 12, Centennial Hall: City Council and County Commissioners in joint meeting expected to make final decisions on five requests to amend the urban growth boundary

Note: The urban growth boundary process does not amount to final approval of any developments. Property owners would still face separate annexation and development permit hearings.

— Steamboat Springs resident Lyman Orton envisions creating a neighborhood of as many as 475 homes and a Nordic ski lodge on 464 acres just outside the current city limits on the north side of Emerald Mountain.

Orton has not submitted a development application to local government. However, he is among five individuals and development entities seeking this summer to have acreage added to Steamboat's urban growth boundary. Adding land to the urban growth boundary is a precursor to annexation.

Orton's advancing age and his passion for open space and recreation are among the factors that have led him to make his proposal, he wrote in a letter to the city and county. Orton, soon to turn 67, owns 1,200 contiguous acres on the flank of Emerald Mountain. The mountain looms over the south side of downtown Steamboat Springs and Howelsen Hill.

"The time has come for me to determine the ultimate destiny of the land under my stewardship on Emerald Mountain," he wrote. "When I die, my estate will sell the 1,200 acres to help pay taxes. The way the property is configured, and being outside the current urban growth boundary, the sale will likely be to a high-end private-community developer, as that will bring the most money. But I do not think Steamboat Springs and Routt County need another private community."

Instead, Orton is proposing Emerald Mountain neighborhood. It would include mixed-income clustered housing units, with a percentage exceeding city requirements dedicated to affordable housing units. Tentatively, there would be townhomes, single-family homes and multi-family rental housing, Orton proposed.

City Planner Jason Peasley said in order have their properties added to the urban growth boundary, each of the five owners and their representatives would have to convince the City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners that they constitute a desirable amendment to the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan.

"They'll have to demonstrate positive and measurable public benefit to the community commensurate with the cost to serve the (new) community" or development, Peasley said.

The public benefit can be provided in three different areas: open lands, cultural resources and affordable housing.

"Lyman wouldn't be doing this if he wasn't passionate about these two resident-centric issues, open space/recreation and affordable housing," said Towny Anderson, his representative. "Just as the Fairview neighborhood nearby has provided affordable housing for a recent generation, Emerald Mountain neighborhood could do the same for the next generation."

Anderson confirmed that Orton has proposed to require that 30 percent of the housing be affordable at 90 percent of the area median income.

"He's put his commitments on paper," Anderson said. "This is what he's committed to do, because he's in a position to do that."

Anderson added that it is not Orton's intent to develop any housing himself, but to make the opportunity available to nonprofit and commercial development entities.

Orton's proposal also envisions creating a public recreation facility, Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park, with a network of trails for nonmotorized recreation in all seasons. A Nordic lodge would be built to serve park users year-round, and a real estate transfer assessment would assist in the creation of the park.

Comments

Gadfly 6 years, 5 months ago

Wait just a minute! How can Towny Anderson be both the Director of Historic Routt County and the representative of a developer who wants to desecrate historic Emerald Mountain? This stinks.

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steamboatsprings 6 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Orton who has funded Towny's move to Steamboat and his development is always evil rants is now one himself with none other than Towny as his project manager. I almost have a tear in my eye as I think how high and mighty it is of this team to save us from a private community that would be required to have minimal impacts to views and wildlife on one of Steamboat's most treasured not to mention visible mountainsides then replace it with ultra dense development we can behold from all over town. You have to applaud the vision of a man that can wrap all of this around a plan to double or triple the value of his land in the process. Silly me I always thought that Towny was just a mis-guided version of the absent minded professor when he was the wolf in sheep's clothing that he worked so hard to teach the community to fear. It's hard not to think that this was Lymon's plan all along when he brought Towny to Steamboat where he could covertly build up a justification for annexing Lymon's land. Is this the same Towny that wanted so desperately to limit growth and spoke so passionately against any changes to the urban growth boundary?

Towny you have come a long way from the ousted crusader that was going to keep an eye on the council to the one we need to watch the closest. My head is still spinning on this one from seeing your name is Sunday's legal section as a developer and this will make it continue to spin for a long time to come.

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Terry Noble 6 years, 5 months ago

I am lost for words. After all these years of bickering, fighting and land swaps now Emerald Mountain is to be dotted with houses as Mr. Orton's legacy to the people of Steamboat. I don't suppose it's possible to leave this one little mountain alone and beautiful. It's really sad to see so many visionaries who only wish to line their pockets.

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thalgard 6 years, 5 months ago

great...let's spoil Emerald next....what happened to the 100 year conservation easement?

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

Co native is right.

The real community benefit would be for Orton to cooperate with a bypass idea using part of his land and running behind Howelson.

If that can't happen it would be better to have 2-3 dozen high end homes than 400-500 "regular" homes and another nordic lodge (Remember, we already have one on the other side of the same hill!)

Assuming Steamboat 700 moves throught the approval process, we will have inventory of land for homes for years to come. Selling "affordable" homes is already proving to be a challenge. The portion of the "700" that becomes affordable should be plenty.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 5 months ago

Donate the land to the Emerald Mountain Conservatory, end of tax problem.................

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 5 months ago

"They'll have to demonstrate positive and measurable public benefit to the community commensurate with the cost to serve the (new) community" or development, Peasley said.

The public benefit can be provided in three different areas: open lands, cultural resources and affordable housing.

So that is the cities response? Not even a peep about this project could effect downtown area traffic which is already pure chaos?

Mr. Orton your vision is commendable but I can't see how it could possibly benefit our community when downtown is already a death trap of traffic. I'd be curious to hear his vision of a Lincoln Avenue bypass or how he'd address the madness down there.

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steamboatsprings 6 years, 5 months ago

well said another local, it's not like we have any shortage of marginally sellable affordable housing coming on line over the next 20 years. That is a very hard problem to overcome.

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inmyopinion 6 years, 5 months ago

couldn't have said it better myself steamboatsprings

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cara marrs 6 years, 5 months ago

As someone who grew up in a different resort community, I understand the need for some development, although it is sad at times. I am not one to say "keep everyone out" its unrealistic b/c we thrive on tourism, but.....when is enough enough? Does anyone else feel our town slipping away every time you read the paper lately, it is a lttle overwhelming. As to condoguys post does easement donation take care of taxes? That would be the way to preserve and leave a wonderful legacy. The Steamboat that we promote as a community, a nice mountain/ski and agricultural town, is far from what the Steamboat of reality is becoming.

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 5 months ago

Some Legacy Lyman and Towney. Let the conspiracy theories begin. My guess is that this is just another end around to what he ultimately wants and realizes the council and public will not allow a high density development up on that jewel for all to see in spite of all of his high-minded intentions. Subsequently all will settle for another downsized and tasteful yet exclusive development they can all be proud of. This truly stinks and will surely chase many from this one time paradise if this is the evolution of our town and its supposed well intentioned stewards of our natural resources. After all, "Greed is Good"! Believe!

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 5 months ago

I am a capitalistic pig in the first degree, I don't deny Mr. Orton's right to do what he would like with his land, I do think this back door, phony pitch stinks, duplicty in the first degree. How stupid do they think we are.....................

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addlip2U 6 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Orton, if you want a legacy, donate the land to the Emerald Mountain Conservacy for it to remain untouched. Leave some green space around town for we breath enough dust already.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 5 months ago

and yes boater, land can be put into conservation easements and the owner can reap massive tax benefits, this is a rouse to develop this land and realize it's profit potential, period, no do gooders here............

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ventrygirl 6 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps all you bloggers should consider the prospect of Emerald Mountain access being completely cut-off if the project gets into the hands of the 35 acre luxury ranchette developers. The land belongs to Lyman, last I checked our Constitution, he can do whatever he would like with his land.

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armchairqb 6 years, 5 months ago

OK Let him build Emerald Mtn, then we'll have the Steamboat 700 & lets not forget 360 (up on CR 42) Now one question: Wher are all these people gonna work???? Have you checked the want ads lately???? Not a whole lot of "real jobs" that pay well here in the valley!!! Just a thought.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

I do not favor urban density on Emerald as Lyman proposes.

But taking this on principle, there are 4 other UGB extensions and I believe all are intended as development projects. One goes South into the valley, along River Road by Tree Haus, which is also important open space.

Do you posters not oppose the 4 others doing the same as Lyman? -Steve Lewis

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

Here's a question for you:

Should we extend the Urban Growth Boundary to build more second homes? -Steve Lewis

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grundy 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually, pretty much no one can do whatever they want with their land. That's a pretty simplistic and naive perception of landowner rights. Development applications may not get denied very often in Steamboat but, theoretically, it could happen. I agree with boater, the only values this town seems to be embracing lately is the almighty dollar. For all you homeowners that aren't developers, keep in mind that your skyrocketing home values only benefit you if sell and move to a cheaper neighborhood (ie out of the boat). There really aren't so many people benefitting from all this development - unless you want to live in Steamboat City someday anyway...

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cara marrs 6 years, 5 months ago

Nicely said armchair, I was wondering the same thing. Where will all of these people work with all of these big housing developments proposed, or is it all for prospective second home ownerships. Has anyone else noticed a small brown cloud forming over downtown somedays when looking from up on the mountain? What will the future hold. Mr. Orton does have the right to do what he wants with his land, but please choose another route. When I visit my childhood resort community I am sad and a little disgusted by what it has become maybe the developers should think about the future when they begin. It sounds as if west of town is also going to be one developemnet after another. Are we planning on having any open space in Steamboat as I even noticed the property in between river road and 40 is for sale, can that be developed for a multi housing tract ? Back to armchairs comment how will we support all of these new occupants. When you grow to this size you lose the charm that makes us desirable to tourism in the first place. Already friends of ours on the front range are starting to go elsewhere to vacation b/c Steamboat is getting out of control and many of themlove Steamboat and used to live here.

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cara marrs 6 years, 5 months ago

When is the next public forum on all 5 of these projects? I agree with Lewi's comments, we should be concerned and aware about all of 5 the projects I think Emerald just send a huge red flag up that gets people to notice..

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh the irony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Back in Sept of 07 Orton said that a road over Howlesen would destroy the character of Steamboat. This week he says packing his property with development is a community benefit.

Well which is it? Orton has the right to develop his land but he should at least get his story straight. He says he's "trying to speak to a higher calling". I guess the developers are calling.

Orton believes a road over Howelsen Hill would destroy something essential to Steamboat's character. He denies claims that he just doesn't want it near his land, noting that he leaves his land open to the public for anything except motorized access.

"I allow people to use it," Orton said. "And I'll tell you, people do. I don't even think it's my land. I'm just a steward of the land. I'm trying to speak to a higher calling than just a landowner."

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 5 months ago

Also, let's not forget that Emerald is far more visible than any of the others. Last count just between Steamboat 700, 360 and this proposed development total up to nearly 2,800 additional homes over the next ten year's. Where are the jobs coming from to support this kind of housing demand? I can't imagine even half of them would be sold to the worker bees in our community. Most of the current jobs seem to be related to all of the building and related trades, this bubble will surely have it's highs and lows. The comparison to other resort towns such as Vail and Aspen are off the mark, we have plenty more land to develop than either of those towns and that is the goal of most developers and realators. In the long run Vail and Aspen will look far better because their developoment has reached an end due to lack of space for expansion. This is just the beginning Steamboat, learn to love/live with it or time to move on. Our quaint little Mtn. community is sure to be a relic of the past. Believe

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housepoor 6 years, 5 months ago

anyone look at real estate inventory lately? Priced have been coming down, average time on the market is climbing steeply, second home financing is very tight and 2+ points higher then a primary.........Lewi affordable housing might be just around the corner.......I doubt 2 of these 5 project happen in the next 15 years

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 5 months ago

Steamboatsprings said "Mr. Orton who has funded Towny's move to Steamboat and his development is always evil rants is now one himself with none other than Towny as his project manager. I almost have a tear in my eye as I think how high and mighty it is of this team to save us from a private community that would be required to have minimal impacts to views and wildlife on one of Steamboat's most treasured not to mention visible mountainsides then replace it with ultra dense development we can behold from all over town. You have to applaud the vision of a man that can wrap all of this around a plan to double or triple the value of his land in the process. Silly me I always thought that Towny was just a mis-guided version of the absent minded professor when he was the wolf in sheep's clothing that he worked so hard to teach the community to fear. It's hard not to think that this was Lymon's plan all along when he brought Towny to Steamboat where he could covertly build up a justification for annexing Lymon's land."

Well for the record it appears that Orton did bring Towny to town. Maybe he is calling in the favor now.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

Housepoor, You may be right that prices are coming down and affordable prices might be right around the corner. I've read that Habitat and some communities are buying the more affordable inventory. Unfortunately these lower prices prices largely reflect it is harder for the individual to buy - tight credit and many are financially pinched in this economy. Not much of an affordable opportunity in those conditions.

I suspect the demand will look the same whenever buying resumes. The lower incomes will continue to struggle to compete with the second home buyer's bigger wallets and higher credit ratings. The new free market product will cater to the more profitable high end.

Condo, We agree there. Extending the UGB to accomodate more second homes doesn't seem wise. -Lewi

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Susie Gruben 6 years, 5 months ago

I was just thinking as I was mountain biking on Emerald Mountain this morning that we are so lucky to have this open space right in town, and that if we didn't have it, Steamboat would lose a lot of its charm. We can't sell off all the open space. It is why many of us are here. We need to sustain the amount we have. We don't want to sell off Steamboat to the rich, and make it unattainbale for all of us who live here and serve the community. I hope that Orton will consider all of this before he sells out.

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sgcgolf 6 years, 5 months ago

unreal !!!!!!!! My wife and I moved to Steamboat about twelve years ago from the vail valley to raise a family, escape the second homes, overpriced housing and the development of pristine Colorado landscape. We are visiting in south jersey now and cant wait to get back to our beautiful home of Steamboat Springs. When is it going to stop? When do the developers stop buying out the landowners? When does the city council finally stand up and protect the things that are near and dear to our hearts and define the reasons we choose to make Steamboat a place to raise a family? It saddens me deeply to see this is even thought about to make a few already wealthy developers to become even more wealthy. If you want a legacy Orton, how about donating to the school system or a charitable organization, maybe the preservation of emerald mountain or maybe you should just go away. I think everyone would benefit more.

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blackthroatedwind 6 years, 5 months ago

Regarding Colonative's link to Towney's arrival, "When he moved his family to Steamboat, it was to open the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the Orton Family Foundation."

Wow, conspiracy all right! Holy smokes, Towney, a wolf in sheep's clothing to the ultimate degree. Congratulations, you fooled a lot of people, you must have your sights set on higher office!

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elk2 6 years, 5 months ago

I think Mr. Orton loves this valley enough to consider other possibilities for his property. It is his to do with what he wants. I am reminded of the wonderful gift Gloria Gossard has given the people of Steamboat with her generosity. Perhaps Mr. Orton would consider doing the same.

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SilverSpoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Please do not donate to the school system, they are as corrupt as towny. .

Steamboat's time will come. The super rich still call aspen home. More or less, middle class people visit the Boat and deposit their sales tax revenue to the city. These middle class people will quit coming here because it is 3 hours too far from denver and 12 hours too far from california.

$170/brl will make steamboat a destination that no one can afford. My poor car guzzles $75 to get to and from denver. Middle class people can't afford to get stripped of all their cash getting to steamboat, and then have it taken again with the obsurd taxation(city and resort).

Anyway, speculation has brought realestate inventory way up. How many "homes" exist in steamboat? Lets say 20,000 people own a home, 2000 are for sale now. 10% of steamboat is for sale, and there is more to come. I think even the 1000 realtors in the town will have their back broken when the "flipping" and 6% commisions stop coming to town.

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe, just maybe it a a reverse conspiracy and Lyman and Towney picked just the right time to bring attention to the general idea of expanding the urban boundry to bring in the likes of Steamboat 700, 360 and apparently others according to Lewi. What is the benefit to the city to annex these developments and pick up all or most of the infrastructure costs. The benefits to the developers are obvious, is this the councils alternative to enhancing economic revenue for the city, creating more sprawl? Maybe Tripple Crown doesn't look so bad afterall, at least they are gone come September. Believe!

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steamboatyahoo 6 years, 5 months ago

Silverspoon, the super rich don't call Aspen home. That's just where they have one of their vacation mansions. The medium rich are looking to have the same thing here in Steamboat.

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BowWow1 6 years, 5 months ago

Anybody recall the song by the Eagles "The Last Resort". You all might want to play it for Lyman and Townie (and Jim Cook while your at it). I have lived in Steamboat Springs for over 30 years, long before these god awful developers started calling it home and I just wonder when all of us "Real Locals" are gonna stand up and draw the line in the sand with these people that have moved here to profit off the beauty of our valley. I just hope and pray that our present City Council listens to the outcry and denies all five of these requests. But looking at the makeup of this city council that may just be a pipe dream. The best the rest of us can do is attend these meetings and let our voices be heard. Pencil in your date books - July 10th and August 12th - 5PM @ Centennial Hall. If you love Steamboat Springs BE THERE!!! Say NO to Aspenizing Steamboat Springs.

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outsiderlookingin 6 years, 5 months ago

Wakeup-----Yes they can and they will. Why do you think guys like Donald Trump get out of bed in the morning? it's just that these local guys haven't read the Art of the Deal

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dave mcirvin 6 years, 5 months ago

This isn't the first time that a semi-major development involving the expansion of the UGB into pristine wilderness, wetlands and frequently used open space has been proposed.

In the summer of '06 there was a proposal (#CP-06-03) to expand the UGB to build a 31 parcel subdivision on 58 acres of hillside and meadow east of the Sanctuary and effectively cutting off access to Fish Creek Falls via the trail that runs east of Sanctuary, through Routt National Forest and along the south bank of Fish Creek. Only 7 citizens attended (a few spoke) the city council forum at Centennial Hall (10-10-06) to publicly state opposition to the development by a Las Vegas developer. It was denied by the "old" city council but not unanimously (one vote by L. Antonoucci approved of the expansion of the UGB) even though this area has wetland habitat frequented by numerous species of birds, bear, moose and other ungulates and was opposed by the planning commission, city planning services, fire and forest service officials.

The then Assistant Director of Planning Services, Brian Berndt, stated the following "The Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan contains three different sets of criteria of approval relating to the UGB ammendments. Two of the three sets of criteria need to be evaluated in general terms and relative to the amendment requests collectively, while the third set of criteria is specific to the UGB amendments and will be used to evaluate each individual request.

I wouldn't say "the whole world is watching" or "let's send a message". If you are truly concerned then vote with your feet and show up July 10th.

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steamboatcontrarian 6 years, 5 months ago

Incivility reigns in many of these posts, while others are quiet and reasoned, even when they disagree. Grace under pressure, people! The internet is not your family; you are in the public sphere, and if you want anyone to give your opinion weight, you will have to do better to control your temper and language.

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

In unincorporated areas of Colorado an owner can divide his land into parcels of 35 acres or more. What Orton has the "right" to do under Colorado land use laws is develop his 1200 acres into about 34 rural estates.

In order to divide the land into smaller pieces, (and thereby increase its value) the parcel has to become a part of Steamboat Springs. At that point the city absolutely has the right to decide how the land will be used as a condition of annexation.

So... yes, it is his land and he can do what he wants with it but within the bounds already set and within the process that is already established.

In my own opionion, we should not consider annexation of this parcel unless the proposed use truly meets community needs which this proposal cleary does not.

None of this process takes any rights away from a land owner seeking to increase the value of the land they hold by bringing that land into the city.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Contrarian, Good points about grace in communication.

I had to laugh at the conspiracy theory of Towny representing Lyman's UGB proposal: "...this was Lymon's plan all along when he brought Towny to Steamboat where he could covertly build up a justification for annexing Lymon's land."

That will keep me grinning at least til the fireworks start. Happy 4th ! -Steve Lewis

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh! A ropes course! Well, that changes everything............

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twostroketerror 6 years, 5 months ago

This reporter completely left out a very important component of this proposal. The "nordic lodge" will also be a youth and environmental center, housing many not for profits that benefit this community. A low and high ropes course is proposed as well as housing the Yampa Valley Science School. This project has another side that Tom Ross decided to leave out. Typical

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Terry Noble 6 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Orton has done a lot for this town and in due fairness should be given a chance now he has a better idea of how the people feel. Civility would help in these blogs. Celebrate the 4th with the fact that THIS is what our country is all about. May freedom of speech live on!

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 5 months ago

Ok....

If nothing else Orton could donate some land for the bypass, do his Nordic Lodge, offer some "affordable housing", maybe donate a bit of land to the City for their expansion needs, do some apartments for workers, dedicate some land to open space, and maybe he could cash in on some very high end 35 acre lots with a trail system between them to satisfy the outdoor enthusiasts.

That's a lot to ask but if really wants to benefit the community then there has to be a balance. Simply slamming 400+ homes on the land would simply bring more chaos to the downtown area.

I just pray nobody gets hurt along Lincoln this weekend.

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rhys jones 6 years, 5 months ago

This happened in Maricopa County, AZ, the fastest-growing county in the country, just recently. They overbuilt the residential, faster than the throngs could arrive. Now there is a housing glut, developers are taking a hit as their property sits unsold and they continue to pay taxes on the improved property, as well as principal and interest on the construction loans. Property values are diving, foreclosures are rampant, and residential builders there are now looking to California for work.

Go ahead, build these projects. The local market needs the adjustment.

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kidmugg 6 years, 5 months ago

"The time has come for me to determine the ultimate destiny of the land under my stewardship on Emerald Mountain," he wrote. "When I die, my estate will sell the 1,200 acres to help pay taxes."

Not if he has the aforementioned family foundation.

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