Steamboat 700 talks made public

Negotiating team meetings opened

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Timeline

- Tuesday: City Council meeting; review of fiscal impacts for capital improvements

- Wednesday: Open house; city and Steamboat 700 officials available to provide information and answer questions

- Thursday: Planning Commission meeting; annexation review and traditional neighborhood design amendments

- Sept. 17: Planning Commission meeting; annexation review and traditional neighborhood design amendments

- Sept. 29: City Council meeting; initial review of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance

- Oct. 13: Final consideration of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance

By the numbers

Steamboat 700 at a glance

- 1 percent: A real estate transfer tax at this rate will be instituted within the project to help pay for items such as affordable housing and a school

- 12.5: The number of acres Steamboat 700 will donate to the city for the development of affordable housing

- 20: The number of years property rights will be vested if certain requirements are met

- 487: The size of the development in acres

- 2,000: The number of homes - from apartments to large-lot single-family houses - proposed

- 17,600 to 21,900: The number of daily vehicle trips the development will generate on surrounding roads

- 380,000: The square footage of commercial development proposed

- $280,000 to $600,000: The average price of housing within the development, in present-day dollars

- $960,000: The amount being paid to firm up some of the city's existing water rights

— The city's once-private negotiating meetings with the Steamboat 700 development team were made public earlier this summer.

Candidates for this year's City Council election who are critical of current council members have complained about the meetings, which have included as many as two council members since earlier this year, in addition to city staff and the development team. Steamboat 700 is a proposed master-planned community of 2,000 homes west of city limits that is seeking annexation. A final vote on whether to approve the project is scheduled for Oct. 13.

"Sometimes, we don't know what's going on there. That's a transparency issue," Ken Solomon, a candidate for District 2 seat being vacated by City Council President Loui Antonucci, said earlier this week. "This is the biggest thing that's happened to the community that I can think of. : The citizens of the community should have the opportunity to understand that change."

On Thursday, Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said the meetings have been open to the public since July 14. The change was spurred after former City Council President Kevin Bennett, who will face Hermacinski in a District 1 race, was turned away from one of the negotiating team meetings earlier this year. Afterward, the city and Steamboat 700 discussed opening the meetings to the public, and neither objected. Council members approved the change at their July 14 meeting.

On the 'Net

Visit www.steamboat700.com and the city's Steamboat 700 Web page for downloads and more information about Steamboat 700.

Hermacinski said Bennett's complaint was legitimate, that the meetings should be open and that she was unaware they were not.

"I wish I would have known about this earlier, especially when council members started going," Hermacinski said Friday.

Antonucci agreed, but described the meetings as boring and uneventful.

"Maybe, in the beginning, we should have made them open," Antonucci said. "But it's just lawyers talking to each other in lawyer talk. : It has to go to City Council. They never make any decisions in those meetings; they just talk about what the options are. : In the end, it's City Council in public session that makes those decisions."

When the meetings first began last year, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said the meetings would be closed because they were typical staff meetings that aren't required to be open to the public and press. There was a fear that the public's presence would inhibit candid and productive negotiations. Even after council members started to attend, the presence of less than three of them at any one time shielded the meetings from becoming subject to the state's open meetings law.

Asked about the meetings earlier this year, a lawyer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today said there probably was no violation of the state's open meetings law unless any of the council members in the meeting were reporting on them in private to other council members, thus creating a "walking quorum" and, technically, a meeting. However, with a legitimate reason such as determining negotiating positions, council members could have called for an executive, or secret, session and reported on the meetings.

The city's negotiating team meetings were held twice monthly, but are now completed.

Comments

gas4765 5 years ago

Seems everyone wants a piece of the pie. New roads, new schools, throw in a new hospital, and god only know what else. Buy the time the developers pay for all these added cost. The affordable housing will cost $1,000,000 per house. You might as well buy a house on the mountain.

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