Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs City Council members admit they aren't expert negotiators.
So when it comes to working out an agreement for a massive development west of Steamboat Springs, they're going to call in reinforcements. The council agreed Tuesday night to put together a negotiating team to work with the developers of Steamboat 700.
Council members hoped the group would include lawyer Jerry Dahl, who was part of a panel that spoke to the council about the proposed annexation Monday night. Dahl's firm specializes in annexation law, City Council President Loui Antonucci said.
"We don't have to reinvent the wheel," Antonucci said. Annexation has "been done all over the state and the country; we just need to tailor it to Steamboat."
Council members said the negotiating team also could include the city manager, city attorney, and heads of the city's finance, planning, public works and transportation departments. The council intends to ask Dahl whether he is available and, if he is, have him provide a list of people who also should be part of the team.
Council members overwhelmingly supported the plan.
"I came away last night with a new appreciation for the expertise that's needed when it comes to a large endeavor like this," Council Member Steve Ivancie said of Monday's annexation review. "We need to put the best team together to look after this for our constituency."
The council also addressed one very basic question: Do members want to proceed with the annexation? The answer was a unanimous "yes."
Having an outside team participate also could help remove politics from the annexation process, Council Member Meg Bentley said, adding that the team would provide help "completely out of the political realm and into the realm of experts."
Planning Services Manager John Eastman asked how the negotiating team would be paid.
"Lawyers are not inexpensive," he said.
The council did not nail down a plan for funding.
Antonucci suggested the developer should cover costs associated with the planning and approval process. He added, however, that if that were the case, the developer probably would not pay the negotiators directly because that could be a conflict of interest. City Attorney Tony Lettunich suggested the developer could pay into a fund, which the city could draw from to cover costs associated with the annexation deal including, perhaps, the negotiation team.
Land use attorney Bob Weiss, representing Steamboat 700, expressed concern about such an expense as well as the cost of studies proposed for the development. He said developers planned to focus on four categories for those studies: the fiscal impact of Steamboat 700, housing, water needs and transportation.
"This is a package; this has to be a financially viable program," Weiss said. He also said the developers wanted to stay on schedule and get the studies under way as soon as possible for the development, which could add about 2,000 homes just west of Steamboat Springs.
The council did not set forth a timeline for the pre-annexation agreement required under the Community Development Code.
Before the council meeting, the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority extended for three years the contract of Redevelopment Coordinator Joe Kracum of Kracum Resources LLC, who is coordinating public redevelopments at the ski base.
The authority also discussed funding for operations and maintenance of road renovations and a planned promenade at the ski base, as well as contingency plans in case the city is unable to expedite a bond issue to cover design costs.