Council will review Steamboat 700 annexation proposal today

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If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City offices at 879-2060 for more information; call 871-7070 to listen live to meetings of the Steamboat Springs City Council

Steamboat 700 by the numbers

- 1.2 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

- 13: Miles of trails

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

- 80 to 95: The estimated property tax mill levy within the development

- 126: Acres of open space

- 487: The total 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

Steamboat 700 timeline

- 5 p.m. today: 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

— The culmination of two years of review begins tonight when the Steamboat Springs City Council gives preliminary consideration to a collection of ordinances and resolutions annexing Steamboat 700.

Ever since Steamboat 700 submitted its preliminary plans to the city in November 2007, the development has been subject to an exhaustive analysis by government officials and the community.

Questioning of the proposed annexation will continue tonight, and likely topics include water, affordable housing, traffic and taxes. And after two years of negotiation and review, city staff and the developer are sure to be prepared with answers.

But one big question can't be answered by a fiscal impact model, nexus study or spreadsheet: Is Steamboat ready for it? At 487 acres and with a proposal for 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space, some say Steamboat 700 would be a city within a city. There is little doubt the city's marriage to Steamboat 700 would alter the future course of the Yampa Valley.

Whether that change would be for better or for worse, however, is up for debate.

Steamboat 700 is within the boundaries of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which contemplates growth and annexation to help accomplish a number of community goals, principally affordable housing. City Council President Loui Antonucci said, in general, he's ready to see annexation to accomplish the plan's goals. But when it comes to Steamboat 700 specifically, he still has questions and concerns.

Antonucci said he worries about whether Steamboat 700 truly will be able to create attainable housing for local workers - beyond the requirements of its community housing plan - given the large number of costs being placed on the development in the annexation agreement.

Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story, but he has said in the past that he has no choice but to sell attainable homes to Steamboat workers because he won't be able to compete with high-end properties in prime locations such as Old Town and the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Antonucci said he worries about how the city will prepare itself to take over maintenance responsibility for a number of improvements to be constructed by Steamboat 700's metro districts. Antonucci also wants to see more green building practices and sustainability measures required within the development.

Council members also will be asked to discuss anti-speculation controls for market-rate units in the development, the 13th Street bottleneck problem that is not being addressed by Steamboat 700, and a revised water demand report showing the development will require a bit more water service than initially anticipated.

Antonucci said he expects Steamboat 700 will pass on first reading even if a majority of council members have lingering questions and concerns. Steamboat 700 then will have two weeks to answer questions and cure concerns before council's final consideration of the annexation Oct. 13. Council's decision at that meeting could be subject to a referendum vote of the entire city if petitioners gather enough signatures to force one.

Endorsements

Steamboat 700 recently won an endorsement from the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

"The WSSAP has correctly identified the west of Steamboat Springs area as the only potential area available for significant new affordable housing stock in Steamboat Springs," states a letter from Housing Authority President Ed MacArthur to the council. "The Steamboat 700 project represents the first major project to capture some of this potential."

At 9:45 a.m. today, the Routt County Board of Commissioners will be asked to submit a similar letter in support of the project.

"The Steamboat 700 annexation is an implementation of 14 years of community planning efforts beginning with the 1995 Steamboat Springs Community Plan," Steamboat 700 consultant Peter Patten wrote in an e-mail to county officials. "If the Steamboat 700 annexation does not occur, the goals of the WSSAP will be lost and the undesirable impacts of growth outside the WSSAP : will likely occur, putting increased pressure on Routt County government : to accommodate this growth."

Steamboat 700 representatives also may bolster their argument by citing the recently released Routt County Housing Needs Assessment, which states that developments such as Steamboat 700 "will be key for the county to create workforce housing."

Comments

seminative 4 years, 6 months ago

Where does one sign a petition to place this issue on the November ballot?

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cindy constantine 4 years, 6 months ago

Council,

Please consider the demographics 20 years out. Baby boomers, the last"big" generation of skiiers will be 70-90 years old. It has been a well published fact for years that the skiing public is declining because of the expense. Our kids and grandkids will be struggling under of mountain of national debt which inevitably will require higher taxes. Skiing will be for the elite few. Will our local ski area be a survivor? How can you consider an annexation of this size without considering jobs and a diversified economy? Remind me again Loui, who the local workers will be that will be moving to Steamboat? How will they support themselves?

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danny 4 years, 6 months ago

Cindy- Actually the "Echo generation" born between 1979-1995 is as large or larger then the Baby Boomers and are a very active skiing/ snowboarding generation. Not to mention technically savvy and more likely to create home based businesses and move to quality of life centers. Additionally, they are responsible in large part to the resurgence of the ski industry.

Secondly, annexation doesn't mean development just occurs; if you are right and no new jobs are created then there won't be any demand, hence no new housing will be built. (We are providing 100,000+ sqft of modern office over the next 20 years. By providing reasonable housing options and office space with redundant fiber, 3-phase power, good cooling etc...we should facilitate a number of technology related companies and actually help diversify our economy.)

But if you are wrong and the market returns to just normal levels (pre- 2003) then Steamboat Springs will be prepared for the growth and will be better positioned to retain a competitive workforce and middle class. If you are wrong and we are not prepared; then prices will escalate beyond the ability of the middle class and work force and they will be once again be forced to live in the outlying County; causing more traffic congestion, pollution, higher taxes, loss of open space, loss of agricultural land, effecting wild life patterns and a lesser quality of life of our work force etc.. Only about 50% of our workforce lives in town today. Your co-workers and friends can work with you but they can't be your neighbors. That is what effects the character of the community; when it empties out at 5pm it ceases to be a real town.

In a best case scenario the first houses in Steamboat 700 will not be on the market until 2012 and that is if the market actually comes back in the next year or two. This will be long after the local market has corrected itself. If home values are dropping then there is obviously no demand which means no one is going to build new homes.

Annexation only zones land and states what is necessary to develop it; it does not cause the growth- it facilitates it.

Steamboat 700 is an opportunity to be prepared for the future.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Cindy - It is hard to see very far into the economic future of our area. I do not think many of us (me included) understood the impact the arrival of broadband would have. Like the arrival of the railroad, it created economic opportunity and economy diversified. Its arrival resulted in an additional economic driver associated with the growth of the residential lifestyle economy. The residential lifestyle economy has taken its place alongside agriculture, mining, and tourism as an important local economic driver.

I know this for sure that our community will continue to grow. How it grows is at the heart of the discussion associated with the annexation discussion. The West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) was a thoughtful attempt to anticipate that growth and provide us with the road map for growth when (not if) it occurs.

I am not too sure that the goals of the WSSAP associated with affordability are going to be fully met with the annexation of Steamboat 700 or any future annexation. I know that the annexation and associated residential development will provide more options than exist today.

I think what may surprise us is that the build-out may not be 20 years. It may be shorter. If all we were looking at was worker-bee housing for industry sectors associated with the resort industry - I totally agree, Steamboat 700 would be over-kill.

Although our local resort industry will remain a very important segment of the economy, its growth will be more incremental than dramatic. The challenge is to look beyond what we can see. Not all of the 2,000+ dwelling units are going to be filled by resort worker-bees. I think the folks associated with the money side of Steamboat 700 are well aware of this and that it is at least in part the opportunity they hope to capitalize on. Good for them - it is the American way.

I really do not think we can study this annexation any more. The choice is simple. Either we grow in the ways prescribed in the WSSAP or we decide we do not what to grow. There are both positive and negative consequences with either choice. Which of the consequences do we want to live with? I am not sure.

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