Steamboat 700 would be unique among city neighborhoods

Development would include provisions not in other areas

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700 at a glance

- 1 percent: A real estate transfer tax at this rate will be instituted within the project to help pay for items such as affordable housing and a school

- 20: The number of years property rights will be vested if certain requirements are met

- 487: The size of the development in acres

- 2,000: The number of homes - from apartments to large-lot single-family houses - proposed

- 17,600 to 21,900: The number of daily vehicle trips the development could generate on surrounding roads, without or with a large-format retail store, respectively

- 380,000: The square footage of commercial development proposed

- $960,000: The amount being paid to firm up some of the city's existing water rights

Steamboat 700 timeline

- 5 p.m. today

Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting; work session to review revised draft of traditional neighborhood design guidelines

- Aug. 31

Joint meeting of City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners; work session to discuss annexation issues including funding of U.S. Highway 40 improvements

- Sept. 8

City Council meeting; review of fiscal impacts for capital improvements

- Sept. 9

Open house; city and Steamboat 700 officials available to provide information and answer questions

- Sept. 10

Planning Commission meeting; annexation review and traditional neighborhood design amendments

- Sept. 17

Planning Commission meeting; annexation review and traditional neighborhood design amendments

- Sept. 29

City Council meeting; initial review of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance

- Oct. 13

Final consideration of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance

On the 'Net

Visit www.steamboat700.... and steamboatsprings.net/departments/planning_department/steamboat_700_july_2009 for information and downloads regarding the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation.

If approved and annexed, the proposed Steamboat 700 master-planned community would be subject to many provisions that won't exist in other areas of the city, according to a draft annexation agreement reviewed by the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday.

In addition to an increased tax burden and a new urbanism zoning designation being created for the project, a new development review procedure known as "large tract subdivision" would be created and would allow Steamboat 700 to sell "super lots" that could be developed by others.

Through the process, tracts of any size within the development could be parceled off and sold by Steamboat 700 after annexation, so long as a certain percentage of the undeveloped project still remains under Steamboat 700's ownership. Steamboat Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said that percentage is still being negotiated but could be 30 percent.

The large tract subdivision process would not create buildable lots, and the resulting subdivisions still would be subject to the public improvement requirements of the entire project.

"I still have an interest in the property, and that obviously means these things have to be done," Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy said he negotiated for the process as a means to possibly generate income in Steamboat 700's early years.

"It's a tool we can use if necessary," Mulcahy said. "I have millions of dollars worth of infrastructure that need to go in relatively up-front. It just helps me get a return to help offset the infrastructure costs and ensure affordablity."

At Tuesday's council meeting, Councilman Jon Quinn said he was somewhat discouraged by the inclusion of a large tract subdivision process, believing super lots would be sold to deep-pocketed, out-of-town developers rather than local firms, limiting the project's ability to create jobs locally.

The annexation agreement also would allow Steamboat 700 to levy a "public improvement fee" on retail sales within the development, "the revenue from which may be used for the infrastructure and maintenance of facilities and amenities permitted under or required by" the agreement.

"From the customer's perspective, it looks like a tax," said Jerry Dahl, an attorney the city hired to deal specifically with annexation issues.

Dahl said the institution of a public improvement fee is primarily a property owner's decision and that Steamboat 700 hasn't expressed much interest in using it. Mulcahy said he doesn't anticipate using it unless Steamboat 700 exceeds 380,000 square feet of commercial development, in which case the development would be subject to additional requirements.

Fee questions

Also Tuesday, Councilwoman Meg Bentley requested that references to large-format retail, or big box, stores be removed from an exhibit of the annexation agreement. Earlier this year, council members decided that big box would not be required of the development, but a land-use regulating plan attached to the annexation agreement provides for the possibility.

"We are not requiring it, but we are leaving it open as an option," said Tom Leeson, city director of planning and community development.

Bentley, however, felt referencing big box in the regulating plan might encourage such uses and wanted to remove it. No other council members echoed her sentiment.

Dahl also addressed concerns Tuesday regarding Steamboat 700's use of a voluntary real estate transfer tax within the development to help pay for items such as affordable housing and a school. Concerns have been raised that such a mechanism could be ruled illegal and leave the city holding a huge bill.

Dahl said that for most of the requirements of the annexation agreement, Steamboat 700 has to pay no matter what. While a voluntary real estate transfer tax is one method for Steamboat 700 to pay for things, Dahl said the development is not off the hook if that method is invalidated.

However Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski asked that a backup plan be added to the agreement to safeguard against the event that the transfer fee is ruled illegal.

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