Omar M. Campbell: Public vote needed


— For the third time since the Steamboat 700 growth gorilla came over the horizon from Las Vegas in March of 2007, the semi-anonymous Editorial Board has posited it on "Our View," the most recent being "Council should decide on 700" (Steamboat Pilot & Today, April 12). That is his, her or their right, of course. And it is my right of free speech to use the bully pulpit of the press to respond and disagree publicly.

The anonymous author(s) uses the curious argument that the planners of the flawed West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan worked hard and long on the plans, and that justifies the City Council to take an "up or down" vote to annex the 508-acre, high-density project.

It seems to me that I read in Civics 101 that "We the people" are the government. We elect representatives to do the routines of governance - not to determine our futures for us, particularly on quality of life and growth.

Growth, as an economic goal, was stated concisely by a past president of the Chamber Resort Association in the late 1990s: "Grow or die. Perish." Ridiculous, of course, since we already had, and still have, a sustainable economy. There is no need to keep running on the treadmill of more people, more development, more problems, more infrastructure, ad infinitum.

Speaking of problems, it seems that the annexation and growth advocates demurely ignore the inevitable and intolerable traffic that would be generated through Old Town and its approaches, and the possible shortage of water some day.

What we do need is to preserve what few amenities we have left, as Buck Buckland so ably described in his recent letter to the editor.

The 700 LLC prospectus candidly admits that the plan is to get annexation approved, then to flip, or sell, the doing job to another high roller. Profit expected is 20 percent, and then it's "We're outta here!" So much for ties to, or concern for, the community.

Because the 700 proposal affects the future of everyone in Routt County, the City Council and County Commissioners need to voluntarily and cooperatively put the issue to all registered city and county voters in November.

The editorial did not mention the difference between initiative and referendum. The former is to petition for a public vote before an elected body acts; the latter is to petition for a vote after an elected body has acted - a protest vote, so to speak.

The editorial says that we all should study the WSSAP and the SSACP. Well and good - they are on the Internet. Then the public might become aware that the real intent of these plans is to cleverly assure future growth and sprawl rather than just to "direct growth to a suitable location."

Affordable housing, per se, is all right as long as it is not dangled as a carrot in front of elected officials by developers to help get annexation approvals. Affordable housing is a growth promoter of itself, and again a treadmill situation. The affordable housing issue, important as it is, should not dictate our future.

Would a public vote be for or against annexation? I would not bet the family farm either way. Danny Mulcahy says a Steamboat 700 vote would win "hands down," and that 700 has no objection to a vote. Either way, a public vote would be a plebiscite on quality of life versus wholesale growth. Approval would be another step toward Anytown, USA.

Omar M. Campbell

Steamboat Springs


freerider 5 years ago

Omar makes a great point...I can't figure out why anybody in Steamboat would want this project to go through . These developers are vampires . They have no business coming in here and ruining the west end of town. Anybody that thinks the traffic situation will be worked out is sadly mistaken. Maybe I missed something but I haven't seen anything at all that addresses the traffic problem. I wonder if any of the developers or anybody on the city council has even bothered to look at the traffic by the 7/11 at 8:00 o'clock in the morning. Now add another 2000 cars to that mess...geeeez am I the only one here that get's this.. ??Plus the planning dept. is pathetic, there approach has always been that's not my problem..we will let the next guy fix it..a lot like most of the sub-contractors work around here...then they move on. We should put this to a vote . Let's see what " We the people " have to say about this. Anybody that doesn't want a community vote on this should move to China .


trump_suit 5 years ago

What about those that disagree with your position and vote the opposite of what you beleive freerider? Should they move to China also?

PS. I do not live in Steamboat proper, and will not have a say in this regardless of the outcome. I think it is just crazy nuts that the citizens of Steamboat proper scream about the lack of affordable housing with one breath and then kick and scream about the options to provide that housing with the next. You cannot have it both ways. Affordable housing absolutely requires that more housing be built.


Wendy Powell 5 years ago

First of all, since annexation concerns both the county and the city, shouldn't it be put to a vote for the entire county?

Second, I have to agree with the question about who would want this, but let's remain open to different schools of thought. On the other hand, let's not allow an inappropriate proposal to run city council. They recently spent a lot of time considering a proposal that was stymied by the voters, the rec center that no one wanted to pay for. I suggest the price for Steamboat 700 is more than we want to bargain for. Let's put it to the voters, both county and city.

This is not a case of wanting to close the door because we got here first. According to the WSSAP of June 2006, Steamboat currently had 7000 dwelling units, and this project proposes up to 2600 new dwelling units. How? shows a sample plat (info center - conceptual neighborhood maps) and the density is not attractive.

The West Steamboat Buildout worksession by the planning commission of 3/29/09 puts the number of dwellings in Steamboat at over 9,000 with almost 45% of those housing units vacant. It questions whether the projects to the west end of town conform to the plan. It states that the two lane highway should be expanded to six lanes. It recognizes that the density is being applied to an expanded area, and that the area plan included more open space, institutional use and industrial use that is in the project plans.

We have been talking responsibly about growth in this valley for decades now, how did we end up here?

In a 10th edition textbook, Natural Resource Conservation, authors Chiras and Raganold (pp.95) states:

"A pamphlet on wildlife published by the Colorado Division of Wildlife presents engaging descriptions of the state's mammals. The back cover also discusses what has become a central concern among citizens in Colorado: the loss of wildlife habitat. It notes that Coloradans have changed the environment and points out, 'What were once elk calving grounds are now shoppettes below ski areas; deer migration routes are cut by six-lane highways.' It goes on to say '30,000 acres of traditional wildlife habitat are converted to human use in Colorado every year." ..."To build a better society, we need to do something about ourselves. We need to manage ourselves better...eventually, may have to stop growth altogether".

Things have changed drastically in our economy and housing markets since the plan was written. We aren't out of this transition yet.

Regardless of which side of this fence you sit on, we all need to share our thoughts with our city council members.


JLM 5 years ago

Yeah, keep your stinking jobs, you vampires! LOL


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