Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs City Council moved forward Tuesday with an ordinance to replace its existing historic preservation policies, but it will water down what has become the most controversial provision in the legislation.
The ordinance as presented would have allowed residents to create historic districts in Steamboat if 80 percent of the property owners within the district's proposed boundaries agreed to it. Council members said they would not accept anything less than unanimous consent to the rules that would accompany a historic district.
"No one should be put in the position of having to do something they don't want to do," said Diane Franklin, who was among the group of preservation supporters and property rights advocates that sat in opposite corners of Centennial Hall and passionately argued their points during the public comment portion of Tuesday's discussion of the ordinance.
Towny Anderson argued that 80 percent consent is already higher than any other historic district threshold in the country and that unanimous consent would make creation of the districts virtually impossible.
"Philosophically, it really comes down to do we want to preserve our historic assets," Anderson said during comments in support of the entire ordinance. "If we do, we really ought to put something in place or else we're going to lose them."
Council approved the ordinance on its first of two readings, 5-2. Councilman Jon Quinn and Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski voted against it, believing the ordinance does nothing but create a new layer of bureaucracy and regulation rather than incentives to encourage preservation.
Also Tuesday, council unanimously approved on first reading an ordinance aimed at improving city regulations for secondary residential units. Creation of the ordinance was driven by the death of a Steamboat man last year in a converted garage apartment that was not legally registered with the city and lacked smoke detectors. The man, David Engle, died of smoke inhalation.
If approved on second reading, the ordinance will close an enforcement loophole and require inspection for health and safety issues of secondary units, which are small, long-term rentals located on the same lots as principal dwelling units. City Council also followed a Steamboat Springs Planning Commission recommendation to remove a requirement that the owners of such units live in the primary residence and not rent out both units.
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