Planning Commission OKs extra growth

Commissioners offer target build-out numbers for west of town


— When asked to identify a target number of residential units to accommodate in the community's growth area west of the city, Steamboat Springs planning commissioners answered with numbers that varied by about 10,000 units.

Nonetheless, Planning Services Manager John Eastman said he heard a level of consensus that will allow the city to move forward with infrastructure plans and studies for the 1,100-acre area that includes two projects actively seeking annexation. The question still awaits review by the Steamboat Springs City Council.

The city's West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan included about 1,100 acres of vacant land and a target build-out of 1,100 to 2,635 units, or 1 to 2.4 dwelling units per acre. Steamboat 700 and 360 Village are proposing more than 2,900 units on 620 of those acres, or 4.8 dwelling units per acre. The city also estimates an additional 925 dwelling units can be expected within existing city limits west of 13th Street.

The purpose of Thursday's Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting, Eastman said, was to make sure commissioners are OK with growth that, based on development that has occurred in recent years and proposed projections, is outpacing expectations. Although commissioners figures varied substantially - from 1,100 to more than 11,000 - all but one expressed comfort with a number 3,000 or higher.

"I heard yes," Eastman said. "If there's general consensus to essentially accommodate everybody who is at the table, that's OK at this point."

Eastman also noted the commissioner who suggested 1,100, Cedar Beauregard, added the caveat that he would be open to more units if infrastructure needs - namely those related to traffic - are met. The purpose of identifying a target build-out number was to develop plans that would do just that.

"It's not that I don't like development," Beauregard said. "I just think we need to solve the access issue first."

Commissioners and developers said they felt the city and county's West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was somewhat contradictory. They said it expresses desires such as affordable housing, transit-oriented development and vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods, yet prescribes a target build-out that makes such goals unattainable.

"We're implementing your plan to the T," Peter Patten, a consultant representing Steamboat 700, said while arguing for the development's proposed density.

Fred Duckels spoke during public comment and urged commissioners to "think big" and plan for the potential development of the entire area. Duckels said that would be much easier than running into insufficient infrastructure down the road. Commissioner Karen Dixon, who proposed a target build-out of 11,462 residential units, said her thinking was in line with Duckels.

"If attainable, affordable housing is our goal, I don't want traffic : to limit our chances," Dixon said. "We have to assume that this plan is achievable."

The other commissioners at Thursday's meeting - Brian Hanlen, Sarah Fox, Dick Curtis and Chairwoman Kathi Meyer - cited numbers from 2,600 to 5,000. Commissioner Tom Ernst, who is working with the developers of 360 Village, did not participate in the discussion.


housepoor 8 years, 1 month ago

We have 2500+ units on the market now and adding 20 or more a month with only 4-5 sales a month. When do they anticipate needing these additional 3000 units in 2075?


Steve Lewis 8 years, 1 month ago

This is a radical change from what our community plans call for.

As indicated by the WIDE ARRAY of input from these 7 commissioners, we are pulling numbers out of the air. Very important numbers.

And unfortunately these numbers offer little context to our existing citizens. The Pilot should publish some parts of the PC packet, particularly those pie charts representing what this means for other land use such as open space, etc. PC's "pie chart" impact to those other uses sounds extreme, and bears no resemblence to what we have shown works well in Old Town.

Cedar gave the right answer, in my opinion: "We should build only what we can provide infrastrucure for".


Steve Lewis 8 years, 1 month ago

700 Proposed "pie" vs Old Town "pie" as a percentage of acreage:

..............................Steamboat 700...Old Town Residential........................ 54.90%..... 27.60% Commercial/ Mixed Use .... 8.10% ..... 4.70% Public Facilities................... 0.50%....... 6.00%


Karen_Dixon 8 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to make a point of clarification. The number that I proposed for the WSSAP area boundary was definitely a high number at the table, but it was 4,455, rather than 11,000. Our staff report indicated 990 acres available for development within that boundary. The Traditional Neighborhood Design paradigm is what is being touted by both our staff and the 2 large parcels that have to date indicated annexation interest as being a good land planning model that will guide our city's growth and help us achieve ALL of the goals outlined in the area plan and sub-area plan. I agree with this perspective. Typical densities for a project of our type using this model range between 4 & 6 dwelling units per GROSS acre, averaging 4.5. Hence, 990 acres X 4.5 du's per acre = 4,455. Additionally, our staff report indicates 1,557 acres of developable parcels within the existing city limits west of 13th street. What I suggested was that if you were to use the same land planning principle for that acreage, you could have an additional 7,007 dwelling units. 4,455+7,007=11,462 units. One of the primary goals of this hearing was to identify a "plug" number for the NEPA study currently underway. This study requires a target buildout number. My suggestion was not to be re-active but to be pro-active regarding infrastructure improvements. I trust that a more careful examination of the existing acreage within the city limits will prove that of the 1,557 acres within the city limits, only a small portion of that is appropriate for residential development - perhaps that acreage is what could potentially yield the 995 dwelling units indicated in the staff report. If I knew that to be true, then my number would have been 5,450 for a projected 25 year buildout within existing city limits and current urban growth boundaries.


bubba 8 years, 1 month ago

Steve, I am not sure I understand your numbers; from old town, the percentages add up to 38.3% - is that implying that in old town more than 60% of the land is vacant? If so, I think the boundary line might be creatively drawn?

Aside from that confusion, it seems that the ratio of commercial to residential is pretty comparable between old town and the proposed development (although certainly more densely packed, but again that seems strange?)

Are the public facilities city & county buildings? I guess I would expect those services to be in the center of town, but the lack of land planned for any public facility is a bit striking - a little more set aside for library/school usage might make sense.

But the real question is, where is that 60% of old town that is not accounted for? Otherwise their ratio is pretty comparable to downtown, no?


Karen_Dixon 8 years, 1 month ago

It should also be noted that the Community Area Plan prescribes between 7 and 15 dwelling units per NET acre in order to achieve other important goals, namely transit mode shifts. When considering the difference between net and gross, there are plenty of acres available for Open Space, Parks, Rights-of-Way, Commercial & Institutional land uses. In a 15 units per net acre scenario the amount of land allocated to residential would be a much lower percentage than in a 7 units per net acre scenario. The former would provide for a higher percentage of....say... open space. (both scenarios have the same units per gross acre) Most of the commissioners stressed the importance of appropriate land allocation, which will be reviewed as applications come forward.


Karen_Dixon 8 years, 1 month ago

One other correction: "we have to assume that this plan is achievable" should read "we must ASSURE that this plan is achievable." This is a direct quote (and mandate) from the West of Steamboat Area Plan.


Steve Lewis 8 years, 1 month ago

Bubba, Sorry, I only put up a slice of the land uses, because I couldn't paste the whole in easily. So those don't add to 100%.

Here's a PC packet link. This pdf has the full range of land uses:


Steve Lewis 8 years, 1 month ago

Hi Karen, Thanks for the information and response. I just spoke with John Eastman who noted this discussion was NOT about annexation or development density approvals. The discussion was about the infrastructure needed for density scenarios.

A lot stems from one's choice of d.u.'s per acre. 4.5 seems a very high number, if Old Town is 2.3. But going there to 4.5, do we know what that means to water, roads, services?

I care a lot less about traffic level of service than the next guy, because I don't like paving new domains for the auto. Its just not the future I want, plus that Circ and Mobility plan had a conclusion, as I recall, that said we could not pave our way to lasting success on traffic.

That conclusion makes Cedar's view the right one in my opinion. If we can't provide the infrastructure, we should recognize that and plan to live within our limits.


Cedar Beauregard 8 years, 1 month ago

Ok.. Equal time right..

Fist a correction..

"Cedar Beauregard, added the caveat that he would be open to more units if infrastructure needs - namely those related to traffic - are met. The purpose of identifying a target build-out number was to develop plans that would do just that."

Brandon the plans these plug numbers are advising have nothing to say about congestion at the bottleneck or anything East of 13th street. The NEPA study ends at 13th street.

This is exactly why I chose 1100 units in the West of Steamboat area. All of the traffic studies I have read indicate significant congestion and delays if we buildout beyond that number..

This buildout limitation is clearly stated in both the West of Steamboat Area Plan as well as in the Community Plan.

My caveat is that if a bypass were linked to the applications I would be open to more units.

Please note all of existing Old Town is only 1400 units.




ybul 8 years, 1 month ago

I think that given the 2000+ units for sale, that the county putting up money to make improvements is unwise.


Fred Duckels 8 years, 1 month ago

In order for this project to work we need to think big. A commercial area will need a sizeable population to function. A viable commercial center will serve as a mecca for the west area and alleviate traffic going to and through town. 700 is presently funding a study on the west end up to 13th street. This study will determine future needs and may show that an alternate route is necessary. Going ahead will determine necessary improvements. Consultants indicated that busses would probably alleviate 5% of the traffic. I'm sure that this will disappoint some, but roadway needs will probably be evident. For those that are aggravated by the participation of greedy developers, they would probably make you a very good deal right now. Developing is risky and cooperation is needed, if we think that this project is what we want. Who is going to pay for what, is yet to be determined. By thinking big, we reserve all options for the future.


Steve Lewis 8 years, 1 month ago

Given these higher densities out west will mandate very costly improvements EAST of 13th Street, such as a bypass, why is SB700 only looking at helping with infrastructure WEST of 13th St?


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.