County endorses Steamboat 700

Controversial annexation goes before City Council today

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Steamboat 700 open house

Opinions about the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation varied among residents who attended a Sept. 9 open house.

Opinions about the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation varied among residents who attended a Sept. 9 open house.

— In a split vote Tuesday, the Routt County Board of Commissioners threw its weight behind the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation.

"There was a reason we created the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan," County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "It's our only hope for affordable and attainable housing to occur in Steamboat Springs."

The commissioners voted, 2-1, to send a letter in support of Steamboat 700 to the city. On Tuesday night, the Steamboat Springs City Council gave preliminary consideration to a collection of ordinances and resolutions annexing the 487-acre project that proposes 2,000 dwelling units and 380,000 square feet of commercial space. A final decision is scheduled for Oct. 13.

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. The Yampa Valley Housing Authority also has endorsed the project.

"We have to move forward with this," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "People who want to live in Steamboat need to have the opportunity to live in Steamboat."

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, who represents the Steamboat Springs area, voted against sending the letter. She said she felt the letter was drafted too hastily and that there are some things that still need to be addressed in the annexation agreement. A small group of residents who attended the commissioners' hearing Tuesday felt the same.

Jack White, president of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, said the organization "definitely supports Steamboat 700," but also submitted a letter with a list of concerns.

The letter suggests revisions to the annexation agreement and further study of issues including affordable housing, water, transportation and traffic issues, revenue neutrality and sustainability.

"This is our time now to make this work for the whole community," White said. "This is going to benefit the community; this whole project is. But this is not the time to be supporting the annexation agreement because there's too much missing in it. It's going to affect us all for a very long time."

Many of the concerns expressed by residents and Mitsch Bush related to Steamboat 700's community housing plan. To satisfy the WSSAP's requirement that 20 percent of housing be made affordable to residents earning an average of 80 percent of the area median income, Steamboat 700 is being asked to donate 12.5 acres to the city and institute a real estate transfer tax of 0.5 percent.

A city analysis predicts that, in one scenario, the transfer tax would generate $8 million throughout 25 years and, when combined with the land dedication, create 409 units housing 1,649 people, with an average AMI of 78 percent. That would satisfy the WSSAP requirement. Resident Catherine Carson, however, said she has concerns with the assumptions underlying the projections and asked that Steamboat 700 increase its land dedication to a minimum of 14 acres.

Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said 12.5 acres was an amount negotiated with the city, and he noted the flexibility of the affordable housing plan to meet changing needs throug the years.

Click here for a comprehensive guide to Steamboat 700 including past stories, downloads, links, statistics and more.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 367-7507 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

cindy constantine 4 years, 6 months ago

Some seem to have forgotten that developers are in the RISK business, that is why they have "skin in the game". I would like to think City Council is not in the risk business (remember iron horse). Seems to be a consensus that it will take a minimum of 8 to 10 years to recover from this one so WHAT IS THE HURRY, especially if what Danny said is correct that there is no "PLAN B"

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blue_spruce 4 years, 6 months ago

nicely put :

"This is our time now to make this work for the whole community," White said. "This is going to benefit the community, this whole project is. But this is not the time to be supporting the annexation agreement because there's too much missing in it. It's going to affect us all for a very long time."

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

The Community Alliance will probably never be satisfied that 700 has given enough, which was evident by Steve Aigner's ultimatum a while back. I expect these folks to circulate the petition to kill the project if council gives their approval. Steve Lewis on the other hand seems intent to extract all possible concessions from 700, in my opinion. The other scenario is to get the council decision delayed so that a more favorable group would rule in favor of the Community Alliance. Nancy and Doug are to be commended for not buying into this muddying of the waters.

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justice4all 4 years, 6 months ago

May be that we need to take note of who voted for this and remember that THEY voted for the demise of our county. Again I state: WHERE WILL THE PEOPLE WORK? 35 acre homesites would be more affordable without all the added costs of annexation. Less services would be required and thus less costs to us and everyone else. AND we could preserve our rural way of life that we all came here for of have stayed for. Kindly reminds us what the Indians must have felt when the WHITE MAN showed up. Oh, and by the way, I know, I am of Indian blood!

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

The city announced the purchase of Iron Horse and financing so quickly that all a vote could have done was trigger expense clauses in the issued bonds.

Walmart was on the ballot, not Target. Back then Walmart was focused on smaller towns and had no presence in big urban areas. While Target was the exact opposite, concentrated in urban areas. At the time, Target had no interest in SB.

The reason for a public vote is obvious. That is the only way to get a reasonable sense of the public opinion. Anything else is pure guesswork. So then each City Council election could be argued to be pro or con SB 700 when the actual reasons for a particular candidate winning could have nothing to do with SB 700.

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greenwash 4 years, 6 months ago

PARTY AT CHAD JAMES AND FRED DUCKLES HOUSE TODAY AT 9

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1999 4 years, 6 months ago

do you people know that this project is slated to be sold to 5 or six INDIVIDUAL developers?

this project is not and never was about affordale housing.

it's a money making venture for a few.

thats it plain and simple.

this is NOT what is best for steamboat.

35 acre sub divides would be better.

second homes would be better.

this is greed all the way.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Fred - I think this issue needs to go to a vote, not because there is no trust in the judgment of City Council. It needs to go to a vote, because this issue is so divisive. Once it has been voted on, folks will at least feel that their voice has been heard and we move on.

I am not as concerned about the outcome of the vote as some folks are. Getting one's voice heard via the ballot box has great value. Like you, I can remember all the fear rhetoric associated with Wal-Mart. In that situation (18+ years ago), the City Council made the decision to put it on the ballot in part because it was such a divisive issue. Once it was on the ballot, pro/con arguments were made - we voted - enough said.

I know I am naive about many political issues, but given the facts and the opportunity as a community, we usually make the right decision for the long term when given the opportunity to vote. Agree?

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Jeff Kibler 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott - Where do we draw the line in the sand? Why was the Iron Horse purchase not put on a ballot? Can you measure divisiveness by dollars? We have redress via petition, so get enough registered voters and then we'll put it to a vote.

BTW, you are hardly naive. Say hey to Tobias.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Jeff - Well I am off to City Council - I am sure a lot of things are going to be said. It is always good to hear what is said in the context of the moment it is spoken. What a great way to spend the evening and you can't beat the price for entertainment value in these tough economic times.

Tobias is just happy I took him for a walk before I head down to 10th and Oak. I think he would be a bit bored - there is not enough Milk Bones to keep him engaged. Although I think he would be happy to say hi to everybody in Citizens' Hall. I am not too sure everyone would be gald to see him. He

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Scott, The community laid out the game plan here and wanted development to proceed according to the plan. 700 answered the call and everyone seemed pleased. Economic conditions have changed but Danny has stayed the course and has met what was expected of him. There are those that say we owe him nothing, serves him right, a greedy developer. They may be right but I would never treat an associate this way even if I had to take some of the grief. If we turn 700 down who will ever want to step into this situation? Our leaders participated in this deal and now to second guess them does not set well. Minus 700 we are faced the same problems and no one willing to step up. Our city is has been unwilling to make decisions and plan in any meaningful way, we are addicted to small thinking and chasing grants, who is going to step up and risk if the private sector doesn't? I do not have the faith that you do in voters, mostly uninformed on a decision this important.

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Clay Ogden 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Scott ... I respectfully disagree with the logic of going to a vote. The issue clearly is divisive, highly emotional and quite complex. I personally have tended to waffle back and forth on the issue and I consider myself to be fairly well informed. The city staff and certainly the current council have spent countless hours learning. Philosophically I feel that government by referendum tends to be emotional and often 'knee-jerk' with little real consideration of long term consequences ... not always wise and rarely well informed.

We should let staff and council do their jobs. This council, more than many I've know here in the last 25 years, is engaged, intelligent and well informed.

I don't know that they will make the 'right' decision ... but I do believe they are the most qualified people to make it at this point.

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mavis 4 years, 6 months ago

There are pros and cons to 700-- but since you compare it to the wal mart vote I wonder if wal mart would have been voted in-- or if there was a CHOICE we would have gotten Target?? I am just putting this out --that there are choices out there and this may not be the best one.
And I would venture to guess putting 2000 homes on the west side of town with NO BYBASS will make todays downtown bottleneck/crawl look like a breeze.

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thalgard 4 years, 6 months ago

Government for the people, by the people...Fred, your eggs are in this basket so your opinion is clearly driven by economic motives. Put it to a vote by the residents of the city of Steamboat, since it is we who will be most effected by it. Has anyone noticed the mass exodus of people from the valley? The now almost defunct construction industry provided (I'm guessing) 1/4 to 1/2 of the jobs in this valley, if you include "support industries", maybe more, to consider annexing this boondoggle is completely asinine in my opinion. Big Box retail? Are you joking? The population of this town may drop to under 7K after this is all said and done...we have no industry, tourism is dropping, we are entering survival mode people! Put it to a vote!

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sparkle 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks thalgard for injecting some reason and for getting real. This is not good now, and not in the near future, so let's vote on it and move on to real consensus building.

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addlip2U 4 years, 6 months ago

Why did Steamboat 700 hired people to make calls to private citizens and urge them to support 700? Danny M....will go to any length to bully people into a favorite vote.

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freerider 4 years, 6 months ago

there is nothing complex about the 700 farce , ok kiddie's let do a little 1st grade math , since this is sooooo complex , alrighty then children here we go . If a whole bunch of illegal aliens build 2000 houses just North of town and each house has 2 -3 cars per household then how many more cars will be trying to get thru town in the morning to get to the ski area ??? ok times up , that's right very good , 4 to 6 thousand more cars and trucks .....any questions ??????

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Kevin Nerney 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not on either side,however I have a question. Should it go to a vote who gets to vote? Just city people? Those of us out here in Silver Spur, Steamboat II, and Heritage Park are just as affected by the traffic and real estate prices as anyone. Why don't we get a say?

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Wow - The "vote" no "vote" issues is sparking some discussion. I got an earful from a few folks this evening.

To be clear, I am not sure how I feel about Steamboat 700. Without question, it is complex. My advocating for a vote is more of a commitment to the process described in the City Charter. The City Charter allows for a process where if "Joe or Sue" citizen disagrees with a vote of City Council they have recourse via circulating a petition, if the petition obtains enough signatures that specific decision passed by City Council is put to a public vote.

That provision has always existed in the City's Charter. I learned this evening that the annexation agreement itself is very clear that the applicant has agreed to accept a lower percentage of the necessary signatures (10% rather than 20 %.) to place this issue on a public ballot. I am not sure if the percentage is applied to the number who voted in the last election or the number of registered voters. I am sure that someone reading this blog exchange can clarify this question.

Having this thing go to a vote is anything but a sure thing. Is there enough organized opposition to get a legally correct petition drafted, submitted to the City Clerk, and get the necessary number of signatures? Who knows? Many things would need to fall into place in very short order.

We all can have an honest disagreement as to whether City Council is representing the citizens of Steamboat Springs. I think they are a reasonable bunch of folks and sincerely appreciate their commitment. All I am saying is that a process exists described in the City Charter and annexation agreement for those that think matters of this magnitude should be voted on. I support the opportunity for them to exercise that right. I think we need to remember and respect that this provision in the City Charter exist for situations like this.

If it makes it to the ballot (big IF), what will the outcome be? Again, who knows? I think all parties involved including City Council is going to have the opportunity to discuss the proposed annexation agreement on its merits. Although "Joe or Sue" citizen may not understand all the nuances of the agreement - I trust them enough to thoughtfully vote. I think it is reasonable to trust the process.

Kevin - The vote will be limited to only residents of Steamboat Springs.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

If this goes to a vote and is approved, will we then go for best three out of five?

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Fred - Based on what I saw last night the annexation ordnance might not pass council. I do not know if you stayed to the very end, however, the tone - was to move the ordnance to second reading - it may not make it past the second reading. I think last night's discussion raised far more questions than were answered to council's satisfaction. That alone at this "late hour" in the process is a little scary.

The "attainable" housing issue is the "sticking" point. It should be the sticking point. Good for Cari for pressing the point! I am not sure if the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan as currently written is doable. There has already been scale back in the WSSAP goals from 33% to 20% regarding the "subsidize housing, if the "attainable" begins to evaporate - what are we doing?

The WSSAP plan itself may be flawed; however, this is the best shot at accomplishing the goals stated in the plan. If in their judgment it does not accomplish the "attainable" objectives of the WSSAP, they likely will table the ordnance and associated annexation agreement until they have assurances it will.

We get one chance to do it right and only one chance. It is right for City Council to agonize about this decision.

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robert nestora 4 years, 6 months ago

i was suggesting people boycott council members who vote against what they believe in, not guessing how a local business feels. the business owners opinion is something they are entitled to not to be punished for. it more to react to how a council member votes.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott, I'm not all that concerned about categories of affordability here, I'm a free marketer and the added inventory will bring prices down without the aid of social engineers. Then homebuyers can make it on their own, and we can have a community not depending on grants and handouts. I find potential naysayers coming up with double talk hurdles for 700 to negotiate before giving their blessing. I suspect that I am getting just that, double talk. I wish everyone could be more honest, it's okay if they disagree. It is not fair for Danny to reach for goals that may never be attainable.

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robert nestora 4 years, 6 months ago

if the vote is carried out by the council and not put to a vote by the citizens then the citizens do have another way to make their voice heard, they can boycott the supporters, council members and their businesses who voted in a way that they didnt agree with. its a two way street but boycotts give a voice to those who feel they are not being heard.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi studionsl - Methods such as boycotts are excessively divisive and not necessary in this situation. The City Charter provides for a means for those that disagree with a decision City Council makes to have that decision put to a public vote. Getting the issue placed on the ballot is no easy task and it should not be. I am glad that those who feel that their voice was not heard have a right permitted under the terms of the City Charter to have a public vote. It is messy but it is the democratic process at work.

Are those who opposed to the annexation organized enough to jump through all the hoops that will be necessary to put this on the ballot? Who knows? I know that resorting to tactics best characterized the Dennis Rodman's approach on "how to win friends and influence people" will not serve this community well.

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justice4all 4 years, 6 months ago

If 20% to 30% are "ATTAINABLE", simple math says that 70% to 80% are not "ATTAINABLE". Guess that simple math shoots that in the foot. What would this do for the general population?

AND AGAIN, W H E R E W O U L D T H E P E O P L E W O R K ????? Seems that no one wants to address that question.

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justice4all 4 years, 6 months ago

Sometimes running words together make others look a little closer at the point one was trying to make. Worked this time didn't it. Now let us hope that we can get an answer to this very important question.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi Fred - Ideally, market forces are self-correcting. Having additional modest sized housing inventory will without question put downward pressure on home prices. This downward pressure will be experienced in not only SB700, but also all across the valley. I am more than happy to let the "market" work. You and I agree on this point.

There are folks who feel that an issue of this magnitude needs to be put to a public vote. Whether you and I agree or disagree that the annexation ordnance should be put to a public vote is mute. The right to place the issue on the ballot for a public vote is guaranteed in the City's Charter. That provision in the City Charter is there exactly for situations such as this. It is messy - but it is democracy.

Whether one is "for" or "against" SB700 at this point does not matter. From my perspective having enthusiastic young women in front of Citizen's Hall handing out big blue stickers indicating support for SB700 is just silly. Taking out full-page ads is just as silly. (It does enhance the Steamboat Pilot's revenue sources - so it is difficult for them to say it is silly.)

We all need to be patient and let this process play out. If, (and this is a BIG IF) the issue eventually makes it to a public vote, all the parties will have their opportunity to present arguments pro/con on the merits of the annexation agreement. At that point, in time people can take out as many ads as they want, and have enthusiastic young women pass out as many stickers as they can. In the end "we the people," have the responsibility to honestly listen to the augments and vote thoughtfully. I trust this process and all those opposed to having a public vote should as well. I am comfortable in having the democratic process work - it was designed this way for a reason. Agreed?

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robert nestora 4 years, 6 months ago

scott, boycotts are another voice of the people dont try to silence them because you seem to support 700 with your prose supporting the council and democratic principles a boycott is democratic it can go either way.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Any one is free to boycott anything they want to for whatever reason they feel they need to. If one feels that boycotting is a way to get their voice heard - have at it. I am not too sure it is an affective strategy in most situations.

I think boycotting local businesses one perceives their owners as supporting the proposed annexation agreement is an ineffective use of citizen "involvement" energy. It is a very divisive way to express one's disagreement . What's really accomplished?

A more affective use of one one's energy is to use the existing political process - but who am I to judge how one spends their resources of time and treasure.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi studionsl - I appreciate the clarification that you envision any boycott effort being directed only to City Council members. I am still not sure that targeting a boycott directed to City Council members with the goal of somehow punishing them for a decision one disagrees with is an effective strategy or use of political energy. However, again have it!

There are strategies that are far more effective and less divisive to express one's disagreement with a member(s) of City Council. The easiest one is not to vote for them in future elections. We do this all the time although a span of time of up to 4 years may be involved. If one feels there is a more urgent need, the City Charter provides a way to re-call an elected official. Although this is much more involved, it is possible. It is far more effective than trying to mount some form of ill-defined boycott.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott, Handing out 700 stickers might seem silly to you but you don't have $30,000,000 of skin involved. Danny must not leave any stone unturned.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Fred - Without question, the annexation applicant has a lot of "skin" in this game and they are free to do whatever they think is necessary to win support for approval. At this, stage the folks that needed to be convinced of the merits of this proposal are the seven members of City Council. You and I can at best be involved spectators who may or not be wearing big blue sticker.

The stickers contributed to sporting or campaign "event" atmosphere associated with this very important issue. This is not an issue where one side wins and other side is beaten. I know that there is a great temptation to frame the current annexation proposal in "political campaign" terms. This does little to serve the process and only fosters unnecessary divisiveness. What is gained by that? With a decision of this magnitude, nobody wins if we do not get it right.

Dealing with the government process can be a challenge. It has been my experience at the local level if an elected official begins to feel overt "sales" pressure their due diligence alarms begin going off. I am no expert in this field, however, reading the expressions and body language of City Council Tuesday evening - it appeared to me the alarms were beginning to sound loudly. They are facing a colossal fiduciary responsibility decision.

I hope we can tone down the political rhetoric and campaign overtones and focus on evaluating the proposed annexation agreement solely on its merits. Simply put does the annexation agreement currently being proposed meet the goals of the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP)? What tradeoffs have been made in exchange for tangible long-term public benefit? Is this the best agreement we can likely ever hope for? Again, with a decision of this magnitude, nobody wins if we do not get it right.

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