Steamboat Springs City Council to take on full agenda

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If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 4:30 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 879-2060 for more information.

On the agenda

■ 4:30 p.m. Interviews for members of the Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee

— Resolutions approving submittal of a grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado, for trail development at the Steamboat 700 annexation; and extending the deadline for an annexation petition from developers of 360 Village

— First readings of ordinances involving a new franchise agreement with Comcast, for cable service in Steamboat Springs; and changing fee schedules for the Routt County Regional Building Department

■ 7 p.m. Public comment

— First reading of an ordinance regarding the domestic use of chickens in urban city areas

— Update from The Atira Group on Ski Time Square development

— Second readings of ordinances involving a Ski Time Square zoning change; and fee-in-lieu payments associated with city affordable housing programs.

— With election season in its rearview mirror, the new Steamboat Springs City Council is about to stomp on the gas pedal.

The group will get right to work tonight at Centennial Hall, where it is slated to address hot-button issues including affordable housing regulations, Comcast fees, temporary use of Ski Time Square, the Routt County Regional Building Department and even urban chickens. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. with interviews of prospective new members for the Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee, which recommends policy decisions regarding the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

For Jim Engelken, who served on City Council from 1995 to 2001 and was re-elected Nov. 3, tonight’s meeting represents a return to discussion of affordable housing, an issue he advocated for in his prior service and campaigned on this time around.

There are two housing-related ordinances on the table.

One ordinance up for second and the potentially final reading tonight would establish a process to advertise funds generated by fee-in-lieu payments, which developers pay the city in lieu of providing affordable housing units. The ordinance also would create a grant application for those funds and establish criteria for their use.

The second ordinance is stickier. That proposal, also up for second reading, would allow developers an option of paying 50 percent of a required fee-in-lieu — as opposed to 100 percent — if that payment is accompanied by a voluntary real estate transfer fee on every transfer of every unit in the development.

Homebuyers would pay the transfer fee. Tom Leeson, director of the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development, said the fee-in-lieu paid to the city would not change, but its source would.

“It does change the amount the developer pays, by half,” Leeson said.

The ordinance also would change when the city receives fee-in-lieu revenue. Developers would pay either 100 or 50 percent of the fee-in-lieu up front, but the city would receive the transfer fees — at 0.2 percent of each unit’s gross sales price — over time, as units are transferred.

Leeson and City Manager Jon Roberts said the voluntary transfer fee option has the potential to generate more revenue for the city than a 100 percent, up front fee-in-lieu payment, because the transfer fees would continue to be assessed after the fee-in-lieu amount has been reached.

Engelken said he wants to hear more about whether a transfer fee would violate the state’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which prohibits transfer taxes.

“A voluntary real estate transfer fee sure looks like a transfer tax — I don’t doubt that at some point in time this is going to be challenged,” Engelken said. “The answer from attorneys seems to vary.”

Leeson said city staff members have discussed the issue with city attorney Tony Lettunich and noted that a developer can choose to assess the voluntary real estate transfer fees or to pay the full fee-in-lieu.

“That gives us a little comfort with it from a legal standpoint,” Leeson said.

Also tonight, Ski Time Square developers The Atira Group are scheduled to update City Council about options for interim uses of Ski Time Square, while development plans are processed and construction is planned. The City Council also will address the first reading of an ordinance that would allow as many as seven chicken hens in some of the city’s residential districts and regulate such use. City planner Bob Keenan said in September that the ordinance was crafted in response to local requests and a local food movement across the country.

Roberts declined to comment whether chickens should be allowed in the city, saying that is up to the public and City Council.

“I haven’t lived in the community long enough to have an opinion,” Roberts said.

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