Growth borders remain

Planning Commission votes against Emerald Mountain proposal


— Steamboat Springs residents could one day see a new neighborhood and Nordic ski lodge on Emerald Mountain - but it likely won't happen anytime soon.

The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted, 5-2, against an application by Lyman Orton, who proposed an extension to the city's Urban Growth Boundary on Thursday night. Orton was one of five applicants requesting extensions to the city's UGB for proposed developments.

The UGB is a line established by the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan in 1995 to identify which lands should be annexed into the city and developed for urban use and which lands shouldn't be annexed because they are designated for rural use.

Orton proposed a neighborhood on 464 acres on the north side of Emerald Mountain, just outside of city limits. The proposed neighborhood includes mixed-income housing units, many of which would be designated as affordable housing.

For many members of the public Thursday, the most attractive part of Orton's proposal was a Nordic ski lodge that would house the offices of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and offer recreational opportunities for local youths and avid trail users on Emerald Mountain.

Numerous supporters spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, representing local nonprofit groups, cyclists, trail users, longtime residents and Emerald Mountain enthusiasts. Despite the strong public support, five commissioners voted against the request.

"The public benefit is off the chart," Commissioner Rich Levy said after moving to deny support for the application, "but it's not an ideal location for development and is not a logical change to the UGB."

City planners recommended that commissioners not support the application because it only meets one of five criteria necessary to approve an amendment to the UGB. The level of public benefit was the only element of Orton's proposal that City Planner Jason Peasley found to be consistent with criteria for expanding the UGB, which is a first step toward annexation into city limits.

Peasley recommended that Orton's application be tabled until 2009, when the city re-evaluates the community plan - a process that will provide an in-depth look at the goals for future growth.

"I think this project warrants a broad community process," said Commissioner Kathi Meyer, who also did not support the proposal. "If we move the UGB we create an expectation of annexation, and I don't think we are there yet."

She said the public benefit was a wonderful opportunity, but she wanted to see the project meet all of the other criteria, too.

"I'd like to give him the opportunity to go forward with this," said Commissioner Cedar Beauregard, who supported the proposal. "It just makes sense."

He mentioned the opportunity to preserve Emerald Mountain for future generations as a huge benefit to the city. Commissioner Tom Ernst echoed Beauregard's comments and said he wanted to give Orton the chance to move forward with his ideas.

Although disappointed, Orton expressed understanding of the vote against his proposal.

"I'm actually quite pleased there was a lot of support for the vision," Orton said, "Their hands aren't tied, but they aren't able to say 'Hey, this sounds good; let's do it,' so you can see why they made the decision they did."

In other action

The commission unanimously recommended an extension of the UGB to incorporate a half-acre parcel owned by Butch Dougherty, but did not support a proposed UGB extension that would include 40 acres of riverfront property near the Tree Haus subdivision.

A presentation by developers of Steamboat 700, who propose extending the UGB to include 185 acres west of Steamboat Springs, continued beyond press time Thursday night.

The presentation for 360 Village, including a proposal to extend the UGB more than 240 acres west of the city limits, was postponed because of the late hour. Notice will be provided when details are confirmed for that proposal's next hearing.


thecondoguy1 8 years, 10 months ago

Thank you, planning commission, good job....................


SilverSpoon 8 years, 10 months ago

464 acres=0.71 sq miles

I think letting mr. orton develope that small parcel of emerald would be a small chink in the armor for the emerald mtn. trail network. Also, it would allow hundreds of people to live in an affordable house(a pipe dream) just like people did in fairview many many many years ago. Maybe some city workers would be able to walk from fairview to work, and alleviate the "parking issue".

Since the commissioners deny centrally located development, I sure hope the stop the SPRAWL.

I wish lyman would have bought the Iron horse, he probably would have used it for the public benefit; It is going to be a beautiful city parking structure.


Kevin Chapman 8 years, 10 months ago

Conserve our in town open space!!!!! Thank you (at least temporarily) to our planning commission. When hiking or biking Emerald, i would rather not see houses and a freakin nordic lodge on the flank of that mountain. I like Lyman Orton and what he has allowed us to use in the way of his land. .71 sq miles is much larger (in relation to emerald mtn) than the previous poster would have you believe. We have at least another year without housing development encroaching our public lands.


mama 8 years, 10 months ago

Conserving open space is what Lyman is trying to achieve PLUS offer affordable housing that is much needed. By allowing this project to proceed, the City could have ensured that Howelsen would be connected to the BLM, thus creating a HUGE nordic, trail system/facility.

Everyone complains in this town about the housing crisis - inflated home prices, nowhere for locals to live (especially close to downtown), etc. If we are not going to permit Orton, Steamboat 700, or 360 Village to develop affordable housing - WHERE ARE WE GOING TO ALLOW IT???

This is the west of town - the place everyone decided should grow. Now let it! These are thoughtful proposals - before anyone writes on these blogs, they should look at them first.

Steamboat and Routt County basically have two options: allow dense mixed-use development (which is obviously needed in light of our housing demands) or stick with the tried-and-true 35-acre multi-million dollar ranchettes (so very worthwhile to our community - ick). The latter is what your going to get if these projects are not supported.

If the city does not start to provide solutions to our workforce, we will continue down the path of exclusivity and the Boulder/Aspen way. Its our decision as a community - which direction do we want to go? and if you can answer that question, then start coming to these meetings!


factsfirst 8 years, 10 months ago

The land "being conserved" in the proposal is already in a conservation easement. A Nordic Center can be built and operated under a special use permit within the county, much like the Haymaker Golf Club. The land being proposed for housing development is mostly in areas that have been deemed by the community as highly visible. The areas NOT visually sensitive are adjacent to the high-voltage electrical sub-station. Let's see - across the tracks, past the industrial zones and scrap yards, up near the power station - just where the poor folk oughtta go, right?


Kevin Chapman 8 years, 10 months ago

Thank you planning commission. The article states that only one of five criteria was reached and that is why is was shot down. Sound decision IMO. "Save an Elk , Shoot a land developer". -my favorite bumper sticker


AmebaTost 8 years, 10 months ago

He's a nice guy when he let's you use his land for free, but he's the devil when he wants to use it himself. Solution: chip in, buy the land from him and let us all use it for free. Whiners never seem to have any money when it comes time to put there money where there mouth is!!


cara marrs 8 years, 10 months ago

I have to say after being very skeptical of this developement at first, I was swayed after I attended the meeting last night. I have no affiliation with any of the partners in this nor am I an expert in this field but I have a different view after last night. Mr. Orton has proven that he is a good steward of the Emerald land and has allowed us to recreate on much of that land, I feel he should be given the benfit of the doubt. Clearly he is not your typical developer. The land that is a conservation easement, but within this proposal (not for housing development), will always be a conservation easement but access can certainly be cut off because of liability issues or if someone else purchased it at some point, not that that option was brought up. My understanding is that Mr Orton has allowed access despite liability and that is fairly rare in a privately held easement.. I feel the benefit to our community to have this land available for recreation and educational purposes are amazing. The housing portion would need some work, but it appears that Mr Orton is willing to have this be a public forum to decide what housing plan would be best for the community. Many of the proponents of this project that spoke in its behalf last night are well know conservationists in this town and I found that a positive point. His vision though seems to be positive as a mixed use neighborhood with all levels of housing. This is just my opinion, I would recommend attending one of the next meetings to hear for yourself, I found it really informative.


mama 8 years, 10 months ago

factsfirst - please read boaters comments. yes, part of the land is in a conservation easement (meaning, regardless of who purchases it from Orton, there will never be development). This land is accessible because Orton permits it. A new owner may not be so generous. Thats the point - if Orton were given the go-ahead with his project, that land would always be accessible to the public. As to the density issue and where the development would take place, Orton specifically said last night many times that he wants and encourages the city to work with him - specifics of the project can change throughout the annexation process. This step was only for UGB expansion. He should have been given the opportunity to go the next round.


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