Stuart Orzach: Put 700 up for vote

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— The decision to annex the Steamboat 700 property should go to a vote of the people. This is the largest single land use decision of the past 40 years. It's much too big to be trusted to just a small group of people. The public needs to be convinced that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

I have seen many developers roll into town during the past 10 years. Each one sends in a gregarious frontman to "befriend" the community and spin a story. Eventually, we believe the story and not the facts.

It doesn't matter if they are promoting a shopping center, a gravel pit, or, in this case, a whole new town right next to the existing one.

This time it's Steamboat 700 and Danny Mulcahy.

You've read the story. Now, consider the facts.

The Steamboat 700 Prospectus contains the following investment strategy:

"To complete the annexation, entitlement process, and engineering allowing for the property to be developed by a third party. It's anticipated that the land will be sold in an unimproved state within a 3-year period, providing the Class C Members of Steamboat 700, LLC an IRR greater than 20 percent."

The prospectus projects massive profits (more than 20 percent per annum, over a period not to exceed three years, for Class C shareholders) when this property is flipped. The developer's strategy is to promise everything but commit in writing to as little as possible. Their goal is to maximize profits for their 66 investors. Anything that's not in the annexation agreement will not be done. The longer we go without addressing who pays for infrastructure improvements to roads, water and sewage, the more we play into the developer's hands.

Annexation is the most powerful growth management tool a municipality has. It is a contract between the city and the applicant, or, in this case, the applicant's successor, whom we don't even know. The city may ask for anything it wants and can reject the application without cause. Unless the proposed annexation agreement offers substantial net benefit to the city, and legally obligates future developers to deliver the substantial benefits, the application should be rejected.

Don't expect this City Council majority to do it. It already has been bought and paid for by the development community. The president and the president pro-tem clearly appear to have conflicts of interest. Should they even be seated when matters concerning Steamboat 700 are heard?

Omar Campbell is absolutely right. This decision should go to a vote of the people. In order to make this happen, we citizens need to stand up, speak out and be counted.

We need an outstanding deal for the community, not a sweetheart deal for developers.

Stuart Orzach

Steamboat Springs

Comments

sporty 6 years ago

I agree completely! This issue and a lot of others should go to the local citizens for a vote.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years ago

It already did go to a vote, by way of voting in our City Council. That's what they are there for and that's why they were elected.

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Steve Lewis 6 years ago

You are both right. Council was elected to this job. And citizens can become the ultimate deciders via a ballot petition.

First, I was surprised to read the annexation plan would not be submitted until October of 09. Makes an 09 ballot difficult to shape doesn't it.

Second, this council majority and the developer have zero interest in handing the annexation approval to a new, council after the Nov election. So the question will be made quickly with minimum opportunity for citizen input on the largest question of the decade. Not a good scenario.

All of which leads to the annexation being a stronger ballot question in 2010. It all hinges on how well this this council serves the citizens with the deal they strike.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years ago

The biggest thing I think people forget is that all these lots/homes will not be occupied all at the same time. That many possible homes will take a while to sell, no matter what the timeline says.

No matter what, this has the opportunity to bring more working families closer to Steamboat. All aspects of Steamboat's job market, with the exception of possibly realtors, have a hard time finding & retaining workers. Look at the scramble going on since it was said last month that all new incoming worker visas for H2B status have been filled...one month earlier than last year. If businesses are to thrive, they need workers.

Working families might also help take over jobs that people always complain are being given to illegal immigrants. And with annexation, they pay into taxes that the City collects from County Property Taxes, adding to revenue. Now, if only the City could find a way to implement a competent City Property Tax to shore up what might be a lean year on sales tax revenue due to both a lack of any Ski Time Square businesses and a struggling economy...naaaahhhhh- we'll just keep hoping that people come to spend money...after TC might be gone...after the next no-snow year...etc.

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