Thursday, September 10, 2009
Steamboat 700 timeline
- 5 p.m. today, Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. - 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 - City Council meeting; final consideration of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance
Steamboat Springs A large and diversly opinionated crowd turned out to the Steamboat Springs Community Center on Wednesday for an open house and town hall meeting to discuss the controversial and complex Steamboat 700 development project.
Opinions ranged from strongly supportive to very opposed. Others said they remain undecided and used Wednesday's event as an opportunity to learn more about the project that proposes about 2,000 residences and 380,000 square feet of commercial space on U.S. Highway 40 just west of current city limits.
"That's why I'm here - to educate myself," resident Mike Gilbert said.
Gilbert said he has concerns about the project but also thinks it could be good for the local economy by providing the housing infrastructure necessary to attract companies and jobs.
"Nobody disputes this is a great place to live," Gilbert said. "The only thing people do dispute is that it's so economically challenging."
Jack White, president of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, said the organization also is undecided. He said the Community Alliance generally is supportive of the project because it is modeled after the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan but that there are still too many unanswered questions on subjects such as water, revenue neutrality and traffic.
Others were unequivocal in their views. Resident Greg Rawlings said the project "scares me to death." Others said the alternative is the true horror.
"We economically gate ourselves if we don't move forward with this project," said resident Curtis Church, formerly of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
Many questions were asked Wednesday about what happens if the city doesn't annex Steamboat 700 or if it is annexed but the developer is unable, financially, to bring the project to fruition.
Tom Leeson, the city of Steamboat Springs' planning and community development director, said that if Steamboat 700 is denied, the community should reassess 15 years of community planning that have directed growth westward. Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said the 487-acre parcel wouldn't sit as open space if annexation is denied and most likely would be developed as 35-acre lots. Both said the city would lose a financial partner to help mitigate the impacts of growth that may come one way or the other.
"They are certainly contributing a lot of money for highway improvements," Leeson said. "Without Steamboat 700, we have not really identified a long-term plan for highway improvements."
Some at Wednesday's event said they fear that if the city annexes Steamboat 700 and the developer goes under, the city will be left with challenges similar to those that exist in Stagecoach, where thousands of lots are platted without the infrastructure necessary to serve them. City and Steamboat 700 officials said a more sophisticated planning process has produced an annexation agreement that doesn't allow for buildable lots to be platted until the infrastructure necessary to serve them is in place.
Several questions were asked about Steamboat 700's affordable housing plan, which calls for the developer to dedicate 12.5 acres to the city and institute a 0.5 percent real estate transfer tax within the development. Some were skeptical that the plan would result in 20 percent of housing in the development being deed restricted for sale to residents and families that earn 80 percent of the area median income, which is the standard called for in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. Leeson said the city is relying on projections it has developed showing that the land contribution and transfer tax proceeds will give the city the resources it needs to be meet that standard.
Wednesday's open house and town hall meeting served as an introduction to the city's final round of annexation hearings, which begin today when the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will receive a presentation on and discuss the overall annexation. The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to City Council on Sept. 17. City Council is scheduled to consider the first and second readings of the annexation ordinances on Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, respectively. Leeson asked those in attendance Wednesday to stay involved.
"We encourage you all to come down and make comments," he said. "It's important."
Also today - and every Thursday until the Oct. 13 vote - Steamboat 700 will hold a free breakfast at 8:15 a.m. at The Egg & I restaurant for anyone interested in discussing the development. A similar breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. Friday at Steamboat 700's offices on the second floor of the Chieftain Building at Lincoln Avenue and Fourth Street.