Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission gave its strong blessing Thursday night to a bundle of amendments that will pave the way for taller, denser and more predictable developments at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
Commissioners voted, 6-1, to approve dimensional standards that will increase the highest allowable height at the base area from 67 feet to 105 feet.
In practice, developments of about that height already have been built or approved at the base area through the city's planned unit development process. Through the PUD process, the city negotiates public benefits such as affordable housing and green building practices in exchange for increased height and other requested code variances. Critics said the process was frustrating, drawn-out and unpredictable.
"I think this PUD process has been a nightmare," Eric Smith, of architectural firm Eric Smith Associates, said during public comment.
In addition to changes to allowable height and other dimensional standards, the proposed amendments also would 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 base area PUD process would be eliminated - and the city is proposing that no further height variances be allowed.
There was some concern among the public and design professionals about the method by which height would be measured, but not enough to sway any votes. Commissioner Rich Levy voted against the changes because he is "not convinced that 105 feet is what the community wants to see."
Commissioners also approved the up-zoning of 12 base area parcels in another 6-1 vote. Ten of the parcels are located between Ski Time Square Drive and Burgess Creek Road. The other two - home to the Dulaney Condominiums and Ptarmigan Inn - are on the south side of the base area.
Concerns were raised about the possible effect on the residential character of Burgess Creek Road and the ability of the steep street to handle high-density development. Some also were concerned that up-zoning the Ptarmigan parcel would allow redevelopment that could obscure south valley views from the north side of the base area.
Commissioners, however, felt these concerns were outweighed by the desire to promote the creation of a high-intensity mountain village.
"Density trumps," Commissioner Karen Dixon said.
All of Thursday night's action still must be approved by the Steamboat Springs City Council.