Rollingstone condos receive nod of approval

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— The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission enthusiastically recommended approval of a Pine Grove Road project that includes two 1940s structures in the redevelopment of a secluded 2.79-acre site.

Kim and Peter Kreissig are proposing 61 condominiums and seven commercial spaces directly behind the Safeway grocery store. The project, known as Rollingstone Village, would total more than 100,000 square feet. The site also borders Fish Creek and Rollingstone Drive, and it includes a park, public access to Fish Creek and 33,000 square feet of open space. The project will go before the Steamboat Springs City Council on March 17 for final approval.

"I think this project represents the direction that we, as a community, should be going," said Commissioner Brian Hanlen, noting the project's density and mix of uses.

As part of their unanimous vote, planning commissioners also recommended approval of an extended grace period before a building permit must be pulled to begin construction of the project. The standard vesting period is three years. The Kreissigs requested seven. The Planning Commission recommended a five-year vesting period, with the possibility of an additional two-year extension that could be approved administratively if the project conforms to existing codes at that time.

"The city's gotten burned too many times on these : extensions in the past," resident Bill Jameson said during public comment. "Things change, and then we're stuck with these projects that don't fit."

On Wednesday, before the Planning Commission hearing Thursday, Kim Kreissig said the request was a responsible one given the troubled state of the economy. She said she hopes it turns out to be an unnecessary request.

"If this does turn around, I want to be able to fire," Kim Kreissig said when asked why she didn't wait to seek entitlements from the city. "Maybe we don't need any extension; I'm just being proactive."

Although the development plans for Rollingstone Village easily were approved by the Planning Commission, consideration of a requested water body setback variance produced a more contentious debate.

The request was to allow one of the development's six buildings to encroach 20 feet inside the 50-foot setback. It was reviewed under criteria allowing for such a variance as part of the expansion of a historic structure. Development plans call for a 29-foot building to be added to the rear of 1941 detached garage. Brian Bavosi, of architecture firm Vertical Arts, said the combined space would be used as a spa.

City planners recommended denial of the request, thinking that the proposed mass and scale of the addition would overwhelm the existing structure and damaged is historic character.

"The historic structure is supposed to be the dominant piece," said Alexis Casale, a city historic preservation planner.

Bavosi disagreed that the addition compromised the historic integrity of the garage and said the proposed addition was the only way to preserve the building as much as possible while keeping the development cost-effective. Bavosi said the alternative would be to remove the historic structure.

"There is no question that we could take these historic structures away and it would be way easier to develop," said Bavosi, referring to the garage and a 1941 house also being integrated into the site. "But the goal of the development is to preserve as much of the existing site as possible."

Commissioners recommended approval of the water body setback variance, 5-1, with Commissioner Rich Levy dissenting and many commissioners saying the decision was a struggle to make. Levy said he liked the addition but didn't think the request complied with the criteria for approval.

Also on Thursday, the Planning Commission tabled consideration of Rollingstone Village's community housing plan because the Steamboat Springs City Council is in the process of reviewing and possibly overhauling its affordable housing policies.

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