Dave Lorenzen: Old West and 700

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— In the Old West, disputes were often resolved using a six-shooter. After attending the Steamboat 700 annexation reading Tuesday night, I see a new version of this same philosophy.

It was interesting that a representative of the out-of-state developer started their presentation urging City Council not to let fear or speculation sway its decision. They later followed this remark by injecting fear and claiming that "if this development doesn't happen, the alternative will be far worse." If the fear wasn't enough, they also threatened City Council by telling it, "If this isn't approved as is, we're not coming back to renegotiate."

So, City Council is led to believe that it has 13 days to hash out an agreement with this developer or the future of Steamboat will be in jeopardy.

In the old days, it was spurs, chaps, a gun and a holster. Today, it seems to be business-casual suits, unclearly worded agreement documentations, and PowerPoint presentations that look good through rose-colored glasses. I felt the gun to my head, and I was on the audience side of the table.

If this agreement is approved as presented Tuesday night, the developer has complete veto power over any changes to it. If we find after the vote that some words in the agreement don't satisfy our expectations, we are powerless over any changes. Even if every resident of Steamboat, and every single City Council member, see the need for a change, it can't happen without getting approval from the developer.

Dave Lorenzen

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Fred Duckels 4 years, 10 months ago

Dave Dave, We already have items that the developer changed to be more fair to the city, when he didn't have to. This will be a living document in spite of what you say, did you ever try to fight city hall? If the developer takes adventage on an item, he is the fool. The overall idea is to find as many winners as possible, I am dismayed that many seem intent on taking the developers down, before they take us down.

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Chad James 4 years, 10 months ago

Just to clarify, this is not an "out of town" developer. Danny Mulcahy has lived in Steamboat Springs for nearly 3 years. It's also not a "knee jerk" decision as the negotiation for this project has been going on for almost two years.

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freerider 4 years, 10 months ago

The contract with the 700 farce will amount to a wad of toilet paper down the road . The city council is cluless and now the developers are trying to bully their way into Steamboat. If anybody thinks the developers are in this for anything other than a buck then your a fool . They have no interest here and will be gone down the road leaving us with a huge mess. All of the issue's need to delt with up front. And why the rush ? This reminds me of the used car salesman that says this offer is on the table for the next ten minutes and tomorrow will be too late. P.T. Barnum would be proud of these developers

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Pres Plumb 4 years, 10 months ago

Fred and Chad -

I have to disagree with you on this one. If memory serves, the prospectus for this development indicated that the exit strategy for the investors was to sell the approved, annexed property. Hence, the people you are dealing with today are not the same as those who will eventually develop the property and Danny Mulcahy's status as a resident is not relevant.

If the agreement contained a provision to unwind the annexation in the event of a sale, we would be more aligned in our views on this but such is not the case and cannot realistically be expected. Nor will the City have a right to approve a buyer(s) in course as a part of the agreement. For there to be a "living document" there needs to be a commonality of objectives but if a developer pays market price for an annexed development there will be little room for altruism - profit will, of necessity, be the driving force.

Also, a buyer in course has every right to rely on the documents as written and recorded. He (she, it) cannot be expected to understand or interpret the intent of the parties. The documents will prevail. It is imperative that every precaution be taken with this transaction, every i dotted and t crossed - the effects will literally be felt forever.

I may have some facts wrong and, if so, I would certainly modify my position accordingly. But if the situation is as I perceive it, we must get it right and we must get it right on paper. You cannot realistically expect a second chance.

Pres Plumb

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JLM 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow, what a radical concept --- rights being conveyed with a deed! Shocking!

Every citizen has a reasonable expectation of plain, fair and sensible dealing with its government.

Make a decision and move on.

Capitalism is a pretty good system especially when compared to all others.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 10 months ago

I think City Council is well aware of the likelihood that the developer they are dealing with today may not be the developer they are dealing with at some point in the future. The developer is aware of this as well. Even if there was no change in developer ownership - City Council will change and with that changes in focus and priorities.

This is why there can be very little ambiguity in the annexation agreement. Almost nothing can be left to interpretation. It is only real if every detail is in writing. At this stage in the process, this is the challenge City Council is faced with. They have to walk the tight rope of due diligence and fiduciary responsibility. To do both will take all the balance and mental agility they have.

What is the general feeling in this forum if they decide to table an approval/disapproval of the ordnance until they fully walk this tight rope?

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Pres Plumb 4 years, 10 months ago

Scott -

In my view, the passage of time to date is immaterial to the decision at hand. They must fully walk the tightrope. Otherwise, tabling is imperative.

Pres Plumb

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Scott Ford 4 years, 10 months ago

Press Plumb - Based on what I saw last Tuesday night - I think there were a number of questions City Council had that need to be answered. They seemed a bit apprehensive and they should be. The gap between the desired ideal and what realistically can be done is their responsibility to assess. It is fully their responsibility with all the associated consequences near and long term. I do not envy the magnitude of the decision they are facing. To put it as simply as possible - nobody wins if we do not get this decision right.

I have been asked by a City Council member if I thought a public vote was inevitable. I told them I did not know. Possible yes - a sure thing? No. I told them their vote could likely be the last stop on this journey and they should approach it as such.

I think they would welcome the "political" cover a public vote would afford them. I have the feeling they would rather not be the last stop. Can you blame them?

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Scott Ford 4 years, 10 months ago

Press Plum - I appreciate your balance viewpoint.

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Pres Plumb 4 years, 10 months ago

Scott-

I can't blame them at all. I entirely agree with your assessment of the quandry. You have a better feel for their state of mind - I have followed the process through the paper and you have done a better job by attending several meetings - but it seems to me that much of the divergent, almost partisan, positioning has blurred and the reality of the impact of the decision has set in. I respect them immensely for their willingness to take this on.

I am not in the camp of those who would have this go to a public vote and I hope they don't opt for the political cover. As I see it, we have people who have literally spent years on this process and are clearly in the best position to make the decision. My concern is whether the documents, if approved, are up to snuff. I'm sure counsel on both sides are feeling a little weight on their shoulders right about now as well.

The west end will be developed. In my view, this has been an opportunity to plan that development and provide infrastructure financing as opposed to piecemeal decisions by many councils over decades. I think I understand and appreciate the feelings and opinions on both sides of the issue. Personally, I would vote to approve based on what I know but I would understand a decision to go to a public vote or to buy time for final personal deliberation.

Thanks for your perspective.

Pres Plumb

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 10 months ago

Scott, I think your argument strongly suggests that annexing it all at once is a bad idea and instead they should prorate this agreement to annex a portion, such as a 150 acres.

And then in 7 to 10 years when that portion is approaching build out then they can come back and if the current agreement worked well then it would be used as the basis for the subsequent annexation.

If this agreement is a complete mess then it'd be tossed and the next annexation would be written from scratch.

Or maybe the annexation agreement should say little, but leave the land zoned as "dirt" and get the details right more and more right over time when the development goes through zoning to plat some lots.

But it strikes me as folly to write one plan that will cover a development over 20+ years. And the solution to the folly is that splitting up the annexation removes the need to now write the agreement that will cover what is expect to be built 10 years from now.

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