Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday setting height limitations as tall as 105 feet at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
Council also up-zoned 10 base-area lots to its highest-intensity zoning designations.
While promoting high-density development in general at the base area, council also reversed course on a requested zoning change for the proposed Steamboat Highlands project on Burgess Creek Road.
Last month, council voted, 4-3, to overturn the city Planning Commission's denial - also by a 4-3 vote - in May of the requested zoning map amendment. Steamboat Highlands sought to change a 1.4-acre parcel's zoning from RE-1, a low-density residential designation that allows only one unit per lot, to G-1, the city's second-highest-density resort area designation.
Before Tuesday, arguments against the zone change had centered on its potential to exacerbate dangers that already exist on the steep, winding and narrow Burgess Creek Road. But a new argument by Steamboat attorney Ron Smith, representing the neighboring Bronze Tree Condominiums, was what convinced Councilman Walter Magill to reverse his vote from last month and rule against the zoning change.
Smith argued that the city's Community Development Code states that development in the G-1 zone district "shall be physically connected to the resort by an integral system of streets, sidewalks and recreational paths." Smith said such a system does not exist for Steamboat Highlands because its only connections to the resort are by Burgess Creek Road and a private pedestrian easement across Bronze Tree property.
A successful zoning map amendment is a necessary precursor for development plans that call for a 328,610-square-foot project 108 feet tall on the subject parcel and a neighboring lot already zoned G-1.
Jeremy MacGray, of JSM Builders, local representative for developers Gamir/Reilly Development, said up-zoning the parcel was the only way to create the type of improvements the city wants to see in the area.
"It's the only thing we can do to aggregate the lots," MacGray said. "This gives you guys control."
In addition to changes to allowable height and other dimensional standards, the amendments council approved to its base area zone districts and design standards will require developers to make an additional contribution to the city's urban renewal authority at the base area and have their projects certified by a green building program, such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The city is proposing that no further height variances be allowed. The current maximum height is 67 feet, but higher heights can be negotiated as part of planned-unit development application, which has been criticized as "frustrating, drawn-out and unpredictable.
- During a report at the end of the meeting, Councilwoman Meg Bentley sought council members' support for drafting an ordinance that would put all substantial annexations approved by the City Council to a citywide vote. Councilman Steve Ivancie was the only other council member to support the idea. Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski noted residents already have the right to collect signatures and put any decision of council to a referendum. Councilman Jon Quinn said putting all annexations to a vote would amount to a dereliction of duty on the part of council.
- Council and members of the public discussed the U.S. Postal Service's plans to close its branch at Sundance Plaza and consolidate its Steamboat operations at the downtown office.
City officials noted that they have little leverage in dealing with the federal government, but do plan to discourage the move. Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said she will draft letters to Steamboat's representatives in Washington, D.C., and has scheduled a meeting with Postal Service officials to discuss traffic, parking, safety and pedestrian problems at the downtown Post Office at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.
- A pre-annexation agreement with the developers of 360 Village - a proposed mixed-use community west of city limits that is seeking annexation - was tabled until next week.
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