Fall election could begin near City Council annexation ruling

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Election 2009

Visit www.steamboatpilot.com/election2009 for complete coverage of this year's races and issues.

Steamboat Springs voters won't have to wait long to express their feelings about City Council's handling of Steamboat 700.

A final vote about whether to annex the proposed master-planned community of about 500 acres is scheduled for Oct. 13. Mail-in ballots must be delivered to voters between Oct. 9 and 19. The coincidental timing underscores the substantial role Steamboat 700 will play in the 2009 Steamboat Springs City Council election.

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, who is running for re-election against former City Council President Kevin Bennett, said she expects voters' feelings about Steamboat 700 to affect which candidate they vote for.

"I think that will be an issue that's right in the forefront of people's minds," she said. "This is a big one. This is huge."

The project proposes about 2,000 homes to be built during a 20-year period. Supporters say it is one of Steamboat's only opportunities to provide work force housing in the city and note that the area west of the city has been identified as the city's preferred growth area.

Others, such as Bennett, say City Council is rushing the annexation, not requiring enough of the developer and "creating new problems" while not addressing those that already exist.

Councilman Walter Magill, who also is running for re-election, disagrees. He said Steamboat 700 prepares the city for the future.

"We're talking about land use, not so much a project," Magill said. "It's important to realize because people get the idea it's going to grow instantly. : This is a chance to plan from a blank slate."

Magill disagreed that the Steamboat 700 issue would dominate the campaign.

"I don't think the majority of the electorate are interested in only one issue," he said.

As part of countywide budget cuts, the Routt County Board of Commissioners approved an all-mail ballot for this year's election. Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland has said such an election - as opposed to one that also offers early voting and voting on Election Day proper - is much easier for her office to carry out and could save the county about $40,000 this year.

Mail ballots have surged in popularity in recent years. Forty-six percent of county voters chose absentee and mail voting options in 2008. Requests for mail ballots increased by 4,754 in 2008 compared with the previous presidential election in 2004.

The last day to register to vote in Routt County is Oct. 5. Voters who already are registered also should make sure the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office has their correct mailing addresses on file so that they will receive a ballot.

Comments

Clearsky 5 years, 4 months ago

Trying to financially survive in Steamboat may become that much more difficult if the current residents have to supplement the planned growth as a result of annexation. It appears that this is the most important issue that City Council is addressing. Before a vote goes out, the public better have all the facts. Instead of the etheral affordable housing, maybe the money should go to the community in the form of continuous sidewalks, bike paths, new recreation center, neighborhood parks. Residents could save some money by getting around on foot or bike. (Free bus service to boot). Neighborhood parks could also decrease transportation costs. By providing affordable housing, it creates an imbalance with the residents who are trying live here. If someone has affordable housing, their employer can pay them less and let go the more expensive employee. Or use the affordable house money as a payback low interest loan dispersed through a lottery system to residents who have put their time in. When the resident sells and leaves the Yampa valley, the money would be returned. I think that is what the city does for their high paid administrators.

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dave mcirvin 5 years, 4 months ago

once again, this community doesn't need to fund a $34.2 M rec center. indeed, the whole town, county and surrounding area IS a 4 season rec center...

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 4 months ago

Clearly, The problem in the Highway Trust Fund now, is that the socilal engineers have raided it for bikepaths etc. and using it for agendas that move very few for very much. In the past we have had too many embarrasments with council, and I think that vigilance and identifying agendas up front will give us a council that serves well. I think that the present no nonsense council will be described by challengers as pro developnent, which gives them very little credit for integrity. Not fair!

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