There were 57 packets turned into the city clerk with enough verified signatures to potentially put the Steamboat 700 annexation to a vote.

Photo by Matt Stensland

There were 57 packets turned into the city clerk with enough verified signatures to potentially put the Steamboat 700 annexation to a vote.

Petition for 700 vote succeeds

City manager confirms enough verified signatures to return annexation to City Council

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The Let's Vote committee collected about 1,500 signatures, according to chairwoman Cindy Constantine, far surpassing the 829 signatures required by the city’s home rule charter.

— City Manager Jon Roberts confirmed Tuesday that there are enough verified petition signatures to return the Steamboat 700 annexation to Steamboat Springs City Council and potentially put the proposal to a public vote.

“The city clerk has verified enough signatures on the petition to qualify for the referendum,” Roberts said.

The Let’s Vote committee circulated petitions across Steamboat Springs after the City Council approved the Steamboat 700 annexation in a 4-3 vote Oct. 13. The committee collected about 1,500 signatures, chairwoman Cindy Constantine said last week, far surpassing the 829 signatures required. That number represents 10 percent of Steamboat Springs registered voters in the last regular municipal election.

Constantine could not be reached Tuesday.

City Clerk Julie Franklin said she stopped the verification process after reaching 829 verified signatures, “plus about 100” more. On Tuesday afternoon, 57 petitions sat in a stack in Franklin’s office, each with 48 lines for signatures. Not all of the lines contained a verified signature, and many were blank, but the volume indicated a sweeping effort.

Franklin said she would present a certificate of the petition’s sufficiency to the City Council on Dec. 1. The annexation ordinance will return to the council Dec. 15, she said. The City Council can either repeal the ordinance or put it to a public vote, which must occur between 30 and 90 days after that decision. Following that timeline, a public vote on the Steamboat 700 annexation could occur in late January through early March.

The successful petition drive will suspend the approval of Steamboat 700, which proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space just west of the current city limits.

Danny Mulcahy, Steamboat 700 principal and project manager, said the development team has long been aware of a possible public vote, and that suspension of the annexation’s approval “doesn’t change anything that we weren’t already aware of.”

“We’ve always supported this process,” Mulcahy said Tuesday. “We agreed to pay for the election, we agreed to only require 10 percent of the signatures. … We never expressed any opposition to people trying to sign a petition.”

Mulcahy said the Steamboat 700 team recently conducted a survey of residents, “to take a snapshot of what the community is thinking,” but declined to expand on the survey’s results.

“We’re confident that residents will see that our plan is good for Steamboat Springs and that this is the best step forward for the community, and we’re going to work hard to get our message out there,” he said.

A public vote on Steamboat 700 would be an all-mail election. Steamboat 700 would pay for the election, which is stipulated in its annexation agreement.

Some say Steamboat 700 would give the city a smart place to grow, provide affordable housing and help pay for needed city improvements. Others say the annexation is too large, is happening too fast and does not adequately address impacts to the city’s water supplies, traffic and more.

The Let’s Vote committee consists of Steamboat residents Omar Campbell, Greg Rawlings, Terry Armstrong, Tim Rowse and Constantine.

To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

tkdman 5 years, 1 month ago

thank goodness, now at least the people of Routt County will have some input as to what happens here.

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robert nestora 5 years, 1 month ago

glad to see the people are voting, with the new make up of the city council is the feeling they will reject the ordinance or put it to a vote??????

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homegrown 5 years, 1 month ago

tkdman, the problem is that the people of Routt County are not voting, I believe that the vote will only be by people in the city.

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aichempty 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm much more comfortable with 1500 people having an input than just the members of the City Council.

If the issue is put before the taxpayers and they approve the City expenditure of tax dollars, nobody can complain about the outcome. I'm only sorry we never got the same chance for the airport terminal and the so-called "justice center" that busted the local budgets without providing a benefit to the people bearing the expense.

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jaded 5 years, 1 month ago

This is preposterous!

"I'm much more comfortable with 1500 people having an input than just the members of the City Council."

At least the City council is looking at how this will impact EVERYONE in Routt County and not just you personally - and if you don't live west of town, this will have little to no impact on you at all! I say this because most of the people I know who live in town or the mountain rarely if ever come west of 129. As far as taxpayer $ is concerned, nothing will happen expense wise for the city until building begins, which won't be for at least a few years and the benefits for everyone grossly outweigh the expenses. Steamboat is growing and continues to grow - deal with it smartly instead of burying your head and telling everyone NO NO NO!

I've lived west of town now for about 10 years and have watched the traffic grow slowly and steadily. It's not going to get any better. We on that side of town have no say in this and we are the ones who will be affected the most. This will drastically REDUCE the number of trips through town for me and my family because I will no longer have to go across town for groceries etc. Having a school there will keep my children closer to home, reducing their time on the bus (did you know it takes some kids 45 min to 1 hour on the bus each morning and afternoon?) This is valuable time that they could be spending with their family or doing homework.

You are believing propaganda if you think this will put the town under as Aich said earlier. I don't see this town "busted" as you do. This is only the ANNEXATION part of the agreement. Planning will still have to approve all the PHASES to come - which is what alot of you have asked for in earlier posts from different articles.

THIS IS A GOOD THING!! You have 3 options: unimpeded growth, no growth, or smart growth. If this annexation fails, you are dooming this valley to major traffic problems, school shortages (did you know Soda Creek has already outgrown their new school - the art room became a classroom this year), and many million plus dollar homes which will contribute NOTHING to the infrastructure that we so desperately need here. Would you come in and try another annexation process after witnessing what has happened here? If I was a developer, I would stay as far away as possible, and as far as phaseing hte annexation, could you imagine doing this 5 times instead of 1? Now that is a waste of time and money!

Please, to all of you who don't know or don't care, when this comes to a vote (which I assume it will) don't allow the vocal minority OF STEAMBOAT speak for the silent majority of ROUTT COUNTY. Give your vote to one of us and vote YES on the annexation agreement.

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housepoor 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't see a school being built there for at 10 years and that is if it gets approved by the voters and the local real estate market does a 180.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 1 month ago

Jaded, I live west of town too and we get the tail end of everything, it is discouraging to have others decide what is best for us. The naysayers spout statistics and indicate that they are all for it except for one technicality,give me a break I have heard enough of that sanctimonius lecturing from the agenda driven.

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addlip2U 5 years, 1 month ago

Jaded, Don't be mistaken, the City Council does not represent you if you live outside of the City of Steamboat Springs. It is named CITY Council for a reason. That is why this subject matter is being put to the votes of the city residents.
Thank you "Let's vote", you have done a great job! :)

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mavis 5 years, 1 month ago

Jaded- I agree with you "smart growth" is important but it needs to be done in an effective thought out way. YOu use Soda Creek as an example so lets roll with that

Voters were told that the New SOda Creek and add on to Strawberry Park would sustain the growth of the community for the next 10-15 years. And yes they BOTH are at or above capacity HMMMMM not so smart planning??? There were several other options that could have been taken and should have been taken. But typical Steamboat Style -- panic happened and we now have what we have look at the schools, airport and community center.
One can only hope some long term solutions are concrete with the city and 700 if this passes
for example the TRAFFIC problem you people are in denial over and where these people are going to work. I am very glad this is going to vote it doesn't seem like the right time-- I just wish the county residents were allowed to vote.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 1 month ago

With current real estate market conditions and their development costs, it is highly unlikely anything will be built within 5 years. If developers at Ski Time Square, presumably the most valuable land in Steamboat, want 7 years to pull a building permit then why does anyone think SB 700 is going to be built quickly? And with all of the available west side commercial space, the lack of west side services is most clearly not available commercial space, but lack of west side customers. SB 700 won't fix that for at least a decade.

For a history of promises not being met, we can review the history of this property. It was designated the growth area for SB and had aggressive affordable housing requirements. Then we were told that those requirements made developing the property economically impossible. The requirements were relaxed. The property that was economically unfeasible to develop was sold to developers for $25 million!!!

Seems to me that just as before, that while there are all sorts of specifics in the annexation agreement that would insure that the promised benefits would occur if it was built now. But I fear that over time that demographic and economic numbers will change allowing a developer more interested in making money that fulfilling promises of the past to meet the legal requirements while failing to meet the expected social and community benefits.

Thus, I see no need for an annexation agreement that covers the entire parcel. I think a portion could be annexed and once that is approaching build out then more would be annexed according to the current plan, but updating specifics as needed to meet the promises of the project. Because of the real estate bust and years it will take for a recovery, there is time to figure out how to do this in phases that works for everyone. And if that proves too hard then that would just go to prove that the City and SB 700 developers were quickly headed to serious confrontations with no consensus on whether the developers were going to satisfy their promises.

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housepoor 5 years, 1 month ago

It looks like the avg price of single fam home in 2009 will be 35% lower than in 2008 with no bottom in sight. Let’s say we drop another 20%(optimistic) in 2010 and hopefully level out in 2011 with another 5% drop, that should out our $ per sq ft for homes with modest finishes around $175(ballpark). Is that going to be considered affordable?

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pitpoodle 5 years, 1 month ago

We still do not know how much current residents and businesses will be obligated to pay for this huge annexation. Water filtration and sewer plants will not be free and it is not stated anywhere that 700 developers will pay for the initial costs. When will we know how much?

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AGM 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm reposting what Jaded said above so it doesn't happen to get lost in this thread : This is preposterous!

"I'm much more comfortable with 1500 people having an input than just the members of the City Council."

At least the City council is looking at how this will impact EVERYONE in Routt County and not just you personally - and if you don't live west of town, this will have little to no impact on you at all! I say this because most of the people I know who live in town or the mountain rarely if ever come west of 129. As far as taxpayer $ is concerned, nothing will happen expense wise for the city until building begins, which won't be for at least a few years and the benefits for everyone grossly outweigh the expenses. Steamboat is growing and continues to grow - deal with it smartly instead of burying your head and telling everyone NO NO NO!

I've lived west of town now for about 10 years and have watched the traffic grow slowly and steadily. It's not going to get any better. We on that side of town have no say in this and we are the ones who will be affected the most. This will drastically REDUCE the number of trips through town for me and my family because I will no longer have to go across town for groceries etc. Having a school there will keep my children closer to home, reducing their time on the bus (did you know it takes some kids 45 min to 1 hour on the bus each morning and afternoon?) This is valuable time that they could be spending with their family or doing homework.

You are believing propaganda if you think this will put the town under as Aich said earlier. I don't see this town "busted" as you do. This is only the ANNEXATION part of the agreement. Planning will still have to approve all the PHASES to come - which is what alot of you have asked for in earlier posts from different articles.

THIS IS A GOOD THING!! You have 3 options: unimpeded growth, no growth, or smart growth. If this annexation fails, you are dooming this valley to major traffic problems, school shortages (did you know Soda Creek has already outgrown their new school - the art room became a classroom this year), and many million plus dollar homes which will contribute NOTHING to the infrastructure that we so desperately need here. Would you come in and try another annexation process after witnessing what has happened here? If I was a developer, I would stay as far away as possible, and as far as phaseing hte annexation, could you imagine doing this 5 times instead of 1? Now that is a waste of time and money!

Please, to all of you who don't know or don't care, when this comes to a vote (which I assume it will) don't allow the vocal minority OF STEAMBOAT speak for the silent majority of ROUTT COUNTY. Give your vote to one of us and vote YES on the annexation agreement.

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aichempty 5 years, 1 month ago

housepoor,

The fact that resale prices are falling does not mean that building costs will also go down. Nobody will build something new just to sell it for a loss. Nobody will lend money for such a project either.

The only thing that's going to bring prices down is a bunch of foreclosures and the banks eating the losses. If that happens, it will bring the "comparables" down and make it impossible to build a home and sell it for a profit. The result will be no construction until prices go up to where they were in the past.

I lived in a town in California where half the homes were abandoned by the onwers after defense spending cutbacks in the Clinton years. Because of the location (near areas where movies are often made in the Mojave desert) there were some high-end homes built, but as far as market rate housing, nothing was built for 9 or 10 years. The existing vacant homes were bought at bargain prices by retirees and disabled persons who didn't need jobs to live. Eventually, as the inventory was bought up, economic conditions improved (due to the 9/11/2001 attacks and resulting increases in defense spending) and people started building spec homes again.

That model fits Steamboat in a recession where economic factors cut tourist dollars. We've seen some homes resold for lower prices, but nobody is building "new" homes for sale at low prices. Ain't gonna happen as a general rule.

SB700 will sit vacant until the market improves, and little, if any, affordable housing will come from it. In the meantime, the City has agreed to provide potable water to the development (ahead of collection of tap fees) and can be sued by the developers to make the city spend tax money from other sources to provide the water and sewer capacity required by the annexation agreement.

People have got to stop and think 2 or 3 steps ahead to understand what can happen. The only people getting a good deal are the SB700 developers, and anyone who digs into the details can figure it out for themself.

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Curtis Church 5 years, 1 month ago

Pitpoodle: Existing residents have paid little for expansion of water and sewer facilities and the water/sewer study being conducted today will define what NEW taps fees will be to pay for the expansion of the facilities. New construction or redevelopment pays for capital facility expansions. The amount each of us pay for water and sewer each month is for the operations of the existing facility, not to build new facilities. New collected tap fees in the city could lower the operation cost per resident after a reserve is reached for upgraded capacity of the system, so one could make the case that adding additional taps in the city could actually lower our operations cost or mitigate future increases. Both facilities have been expanded recently so the new higher tap fees collected all over town from downtown, overlook park, Sb700 etc… will be accruing in the cities coffers until the expansions are necessary.

I find it interesting that current residents don’t want to acknowledge that services performed by our local government are being subsidized by tourist dollars but then expect every new person who moves to town to pay their own way.

What everyone should be fearful is the fact if a teacher retires the teacher taking his/her place can’t afford to live in the community. What type of community will we have when 80% of the workforce lives outside of town. When our co-workers cannot be our neighbors.

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ElevenFootPole 5 years, 1 month ago

Good idea - THINK AHEAD. Do not let small-minded, short-sighted, fear-mongering, non-factually-based opinions lead you down the path of misguided thought to the wrong vote of no. Say YES to a future of INclusivity. YES to annexation of land our Community decided years ago was the place for growth to ensure that housing remains within reach. Say YES to a partner who stepped up to fulfill that vision. Say YES to using land wisely rather than wasting it on the lowest density McMansions that don't satisfy housing demand and cause more land to be used than necessary. Don't let unfortunate economic timing be the basis for your decision. THINK AHEAD. When played out over time, the cost of denial is far greater than the cost of approval. Be forward thinking by voting YES to annexation.

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pitpoodle 5 years, 1 month ago

Curtis Church So, you agree that current residents will pay for new water filtration and sewer plants for the new annexation. Tap fee reserves are at an all time low in Steamboat Springs. I doubt that they have ever worked well to raise capital. Chances are nil that they will never increase enough to establish new expensive systems at any time in the near future. These systems must be put in prior to any major sales of 700 lots. Affordable housing is a pipe dream for teachers or anyone else who thinks a home will be affordable in the SB 700 annexation--except, perhaps, for rich retirees who move here. I've got no problem with tourists subsidizing local government spending. It allows the rest of us, who do not make teacher salaries, to live here.

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arnonep 5 years, 1 month ago

addlip2U "Thank you "Let's vote", you have done a great job! :)" Yeah, Thanks for adding to the cost. Thanks for subsidising the local press. Thanks for undermining the experts and/or voluntieers. Thanks for not explaining the consequenses of signing the petition. Thanks for useing partial facts and induindo. Thanks for trashing 15 years of effort......

This is preposterous!

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AGM 5 years ago

yeah, Curtis....just like the amazingly biased (aka I've already got my house paid for and I don't need anyone else moving to my town because I belong to the community alliance) Pitpoodle said....

-it is impossible to have affordable housing -it is impossible for any community to add homes because it is way too expensive for any community to add water and waste water infrastructure.

Pitpoodle - I challenge you to write something constructive......anything constructive. You continue to post FEAR and MORE FEAR. How on earth does every other community in the world grow? How do they pay for those infrastructure projects of water? Oh that's right....you HATE growth and you can't even see how a community can do that.

why don't you just be honest with everyone on here and state you are completely against ANY annexation into our town?

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pitpoodle 5 years ago

AGM Of course, I said none of the things you state. However, please reread your comments. They are barely comprehensible much less constructive. You've made up your mind and certainly you do not want to be confused with any facts. Such as, not every one who lives or owns a business in SB can afford to pay for increased water filtration and sewer plant for a huge annexation to bring in more rich second homeowners. The people who live here deserve to know how much they are expected to pay. This will be a huge expense for families already living here. Don't you care about them?

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Curtis Church 5 years ago

Pitpoodle- We know exactly what the existing taxpayers will pay for expansion of the water and sewer facilities= $0.00- Call the Public Works director Philo Shelton for confirmation. The City Council was very clear and adamant that the existing residents not pay for anything or be put at risk.

New tap fees, not monthly user fees, pay for expansion of capital facilities for our water and sewer. Tap fees are only collected from new taps, which is a result of new construction, existing residents do not pay tap fees today or in the future. The tap fees paid by the person/company who built your house, condo, townhome, went to build our current facility.

The user fees that we all pay each month for our water and sewer are used to pay for operations and maintenance of the existing facilities, not for the expansion of facilities.

Past, new development paid for the expansion of the water and sewer facilities to allow for future growth. Excess capacity exists today because of previous development, not because of monthly user fees.

The low reserves from operations you mention came about because the monthly rates were not raised for over a decade while the cost of electricity, man power, tools, and equipment increased over the same period of time.

The water and sewer study that is currently underway will determine what new development will need to pay to expand the water and sewer systems and the timing of the various expansions. It will also project what it will cost to operate and maintain the expanded facilities. Technically, the more users the lower the per user fee should be as there is a relatively fixed cost to operate the plants. However, usage rates, once set, rarely go down.

New development, all over town, will pay tap fees which will be held in reserve until the various expansions are necessary. State law requires sewer facilities to start there expansion efforts when they reach 80% capacity.

Why not call the City Offices, 879-2060, and find out more from our Department Heads: Philo Shelton - Public Works Tom Leeson - Planning Services Jon Roberts - City Manager

They are there to answer your questions.

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pitpoodle 5 years ago

Curtis Church First tap fees are not low because there have not been increases. A FOI request showed that there have been 4 such increases in the recent past (not none that you claim over a decade). Even with increases, they are at an all time low. Tap fees from new construction have not performed in the past, and there is no reason to think this will change. The costs to families living in SB will be huge whether you choose to look at the actual cost of water infiltration and sewer plant costs or not. I understand that water rates pay for operations and maintenance of existing facilities. What you don't seem to understand is that facilities must go in before any major sales of SB 700 lots can be sold. This will be before any significant money from tap fees will be collected and saved in reserve. I am hopeful the new water and sewer study will tell us how much current residents will have to pay (in addition to water rates). I know what the city staff will tell us -that this will be free for SB residents which you have swallowed hook, line, and sinker. That makes no logical sense. They do not know, as their decisions were made without a complete study being conducted and with no regard to current residents.

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ElevenFootPole 5 years ago

Curtis Church Good job for providing an accurate description of how infrastructure is maintained and improved and where the funds are derived. Poo refuses to verify your facts with the actual people in charge of this infrastructure. It is apparent that she chooses to listen to some uninformed naysayers who are grasping at any red herring they can find to stop any growth. All those people want to do is turn this town into another exclusive resort like Aspen so they can make out like bandits with their property values. Selfish Selfish Selfish Poo, you don't really care how much water is or is not going to cost you. What you care about is that your property value will likely only increase at a normal rate vs. a disproportionate exponential rate. What you care about is that you won't be able to launch yourself into the Country Club of America as quickly as you had hoped at the expense of the community that opened its doors to you once upon a time. Selfish Selfish Selfish Poo.

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aichempty 5 years ago

Pole,

You are dancing around the issue. The City has to pay for the capacity improvements.

The tap fees are not collected until the building permit is issued. Taps are not authorized until there is capacity to support them. In this case, the egg always comes before the chicken. The water must be supplied FIRST, and then the tap fees are paid.

So what if the water bills don't go up? The money still has to come from the City, so where will the City get it? Out of the general fund.

So, either sales tax revenues go up to cover it, or a city property tax is levied, or some other City service is cut to absorb the cost.

The fact that there is no plan to raise water bills for current residents doesn't mean that there is no increased cost or trade-off to City taxpayers.

So, somebody will argue, "The City doesn't have to build the capacity until there's a need for it."

Wrong.

The Annexation agreement requires the City to provide the potable water requirement specified therein. There's nothing that lets the City off the hook except a decrease in the amount of available water from the sources specified in the agreement.

So, SB700 can sue the City to make them provide the water, and that means somebody will have to pay for it now, and collect the tap fees later.

How do you propose to solve this dilemma? Gonna go out back and shake your money tree and give it to the City?

You either don't understand the situation, or you're blowing smoke. Which is it?

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Curtis Church 5 years ago

aichempty and pitpoodle: If I am reading the Water Supply Master plan correctly as it identifies our current capacity to supply water versus our daily average usage in millions of gallons per day/mgd, it shows that we are only at 30% of capacity currently. The tables reveal that we use 2.8 mgd in the City and the District (Mounter Werner Water District) with a capacity at the filtration plant (10 filters) currently of 7.5 mgd (max with additional filters of 12mgd) and another 2 mgd from the Yampa River Wells to supply the water.

What this tells me, again, if I am reading the tables correctly, is that we have time to collect fees to anticipate our capital improvement needs, both from new taps and from operational funds put into reserve. Adding new taps today to slowly increase our capacity usage does not seem that it will effect the community's individuall cost to use water in the next 20 years.

I thought some actual data from the Water Master Plan might aid in this discussion.

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Karen_Dixon 5 years ago

The Capital Facilities Phasing Plan (Exhibit F) of the Annexation agreement - line items 19d, 19e & 19f - states that water system improvements, wastewater system improvements, & if needed, a water storage tank shall be in place prior to any final plat (i.e., before any vertical construction). These are Category A items, which are "Facililties for which SB 700 is exclusively responsible, both as to financing and construction."

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aichempty 5 years ago

C3,

The City is obligated to supply the water by the terms of the Annexation agreement.

If you read some more, you'll find that almost all additional capacity available to the City would be taken up by SB700 if built out to completion. So, what about any other construction in town? What about other developments seeking annexation in the meantime? Do we really want to give SB700 a monopoly on all future development by promising them all the current and future excess capacity available?

What if the water supply decreases due to a change in climate?

Look, I'm not against SB700 at all. I just think that some critical connection of the dots has been missed in the thought process and anyone taking the time to analyze the whole picture should have some valid questions that need to be answered. SB700's marketing pitch to the Council is contained in the Annexation Agreement, but it's complex and does not address the pitfalls which are obvious to anyone taking the time to understand it.

People really need to understand that there's potential for the City to be forced to supply water to SB700 to a degree that, should the supply change, EVERYBODY could be faced with rationing and shortages down the line. And where will the SB700 developers be at that point? They'll still be counting their money back in Las Vegas and we'll be taking Navy showers (wet down, shut off the water, soap up, rinse off) and watching our grass die.

The SB700 annexation argument has been all "pro," with no real examination of the risks and pitfalls which can occur if things don't go as planned. We've already beaten the "affordable housing" issue to death and found that it's an empty promise which cannot be realized in the real world. You've got to understand that this pitch has been made by people who are used to convincing other people that everything will be great, but there's no guarantee. How many business plans do you think don't work out? According to statistics, about 90% of them fail in the first year.

Personally, whether SB700 is approved or not makes no difference to me. The value of my own property will go up either way. The risk people run in the City is being stuck in a contract that costs them money personally down the line or impacts their lifestyles (traffic, etc) while the developers make their profits. If SB700 only had the best interest of current residents in mind, they would not be asking for anything back from the City. If they cannot proceed without the City agreeing to bear additional expense, that ought to make you question every line of the agreement, and weigh the possible outcomes.

Don't drink the Kool-Aid. Get the facts and vote for what serves YOU best. I guarantee, that's what the SB700 developers are going for -- what's best for THEM. It sounds too good to be true, which means it probably is.

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