Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy takes notes while Bill Cousins speaks to Steamboat Springs City Council members during Tuesday night's public comment period about the proposed development. Cousins, who just moved to Steamboat a week ago from California, said he wanted to comment because he is concerned and interested in the future of Steamboat.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy takes notes while Bill Cousins speaks to Steamboat Springs City Council members during Tuesday night's public comment period about the proposed development. Cousins, who just moved to Steamboat a week ago from California, said he wanted to comment because he is concerned and interested in the future of Steamboat.

Calls for vote on 700 continue

Council worries about proposed Steamboat 700's housing costs

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To petition for a vote

  • Five city voters must file an affidavit with the city clerk stating that they'll serve as a petitioners' committee.

  • The group must file its referendum petition within 30 days after the City Council adopts the ordinance being challenged.

  • When a referendum petition is filed with the city clerk, the ordinance sought to be reconsidered shall be suspended. The suspension shall terminate when:

  • There is a final determination of insufficiency of the petition, or

  • The petitioners' committee withdraws petition, or

  • The council repeals the ordinance, or

  • Certification of a favorable vote of qualified electors of the city on the ordinance.

  • The vote shall be held not less than 30 days and not later than 90 days from the date of the final council vote. If no regular municipal election is to be held within the period prescribed, the council shall provide for a special election.

Source: Steamboat Springs' Municipal Code

— Several residents who attended Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting renewed calls to put the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation to a vote.

Extra chairs had to be brought into Centennial Hall to accommodate the large crowd that turned out for council's preliminary consideration of a collection of resolutions and ordinances that would annex the 487-acre project, which proposes 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space on property just west of the current city limits. The first readings of ordinances passed, but Steamboat 700 developers were asked to address a number of issues before returning for final consideration.

"This is a major, major thing for the folks in town, and they should have a say in it," resident Bill Moser said.

Resident Ed MacArthur cautioned council against putting the decision to a vote and said the majority of city residents won't do the research necessary to say whether the complex development is a good idea. MacArthur, who is president of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, urged council to support the project.

"Nothing in life will ever be perfect, but this is a good plan," MacArthur said. "We won't be a community if we don't have places to go in the future."

Final consideration of the annexation is Oct. 13. If council approves it, petitioners would have to gather enough signatures from city residents - 10 percent of registered voters - to force a referendum election.

Residents who raised concerns about the project mostly were worried about traffic impacts and affordable housing. The crowd also included several Steamboat 700 supporters. Many wore buttons and stickers stating, "I support Steamboat 700," and argued for the project's potential to make Steamboat a more affordable place to live.

"I want to be near my parents," Catelyn Stokes said, "and there's no way they're leaving."

Noreen Moore, of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, said housing stock is key to Steamboat's ability to attract the location-neutral businesspeople that are key contributors to the local economy.

"In today's technology world, housing will be a motivator," Moore said. "It's not growth for growth's sake."

Housing also was on the mind of council members, who were worried about the prices of homes in the development beyond the subsidized units that will be created as a result of Steamboat 700's community housing plan.

As of press time Tuesday night, council members had just approved, 4-3, the first reading of an ordinance annexing the property, after debating the housing issue. Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy was trying to assure council that the homes in Steamboat 700 would be modestly priced.

"I told you a million times over three years that our market is attainable housing," said Mulcahy, who said he would try to address council's concerns before the final hearing in two weeks.

Council members were struggling to figure out how they could be guaranteed of Mulcahy's assurances or somehow put it in writing, but they were split about whether to institute additional deed restrictions, residency requirements or other measures.

"If the people who form the backbone of this community can't afford to live there, what did we create?" City Council President Loui Antonucci said. "The community has expectations, and I think we would be remiss if we didn't address those expectations."

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said she wanted to see numbers proving that Steamboat 700 could create housing for Steamboat's middle class given all the cost burdens in the annexation agreement.

"Convince me before Oct. 13 if you want my vote," Hermacinski said.

Hermacinski voted against the first reading of the annexation ordinance. Councilman Steve Ivancie and Meg Bentley voted against it also because they preferred to table the ordinance. Antonucci and council members Scott Myller, Jon Quinn and Walter Magill voted in favor of the ordinance.

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

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

If it passes 4-3 then City Council should also put it on the ballot for a local vote. This decision is way too important to be settled by one vote.

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CedarBeauregard 4 years, 6 months ago

The WASSAP asking for attainable market rate housing is like the Federal government demanding physicists to create a perpetual motion machine. Some natural forces can not be overcome. In Steamboats case its our overall desirability to live here. Having said that I would like to caution City Council from trying to manipulate the market in some way to achieve this lofty goal. (I can think of several examples where we have failed at this) Instead I would suggest the Council hand the WASSAP back to the people and ask "without free market attainable housing" because this is impossible, what should the WASSAP look like.. I think that would be the responsible thing to do as the disadvantages without this impossible mandate far outweigh the advantages.

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wellbeing 4 years, 6 months ago

not only do we need proof that the cost of the project will allow for "affordable" housing (which is still too expensive for most working folks i know), we need assurance that the affordable units will not be sold for a fee in lieu. we need guarantees and a City Council with the backbone to hold the developers to their word. Furthermore, MacArthur suggests that 700 shouldn't go to a vote because the public won't research the issue. since when is the public expected to be quizzed on ballot issues?

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

The market will determine affordability by supply and demand, and the larger inventory is the only determinate here. The rest of us are only spectators regardless of our opinions. This scenario reminds me of the Florida election where some want to continue voting until they win.

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jody patten 4 years, 6 months ago

You currently have a traffic bottleneck west of 13th street, and no governmental agency has any funds to fix it. You have a private developer agreeing to pay for 20% of the cost, to pay for ALL of the widening to 4 lanes of US40 west of town, as well as to pay for half a new school the west side has needed for years (have you seen how maxed out our present schools all are?), all of a new fire station, a new public works and parks department maintenance facility--worth $140 million all told--that's with NO government dollars. Your local government hasn't had the courage to act to fix these issues via new taxes or general fund expenditures when times were flush, now we have a private partner who isn't even asking for any tax credits, much less city-paid-for water or sewer lines (those are the kinds of things city's who "partner" with developers on affordable housing offer in many other communities). This is a no brainer. Unless you want to see Steamboat go the way of Aspen...which I don't, or I'd have moved there instead of Steamboat 11 years ago. I saw a town of real, working families who cared about eachother, and who didn't think long commutes to neighboring towns were environmentally sound. You've got a for-real partner here to help you protect the community character we so enjoy here. And they're actually asking for nothing from the city (not tax breaks, not free infrastructure, not risk assumption)-only a vote from our city council to approve their annexation.

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boatgirl 4 years, 6 months ago

Ed Macarthur, one of the vocal supporters of SB700, doesn't want the public to have a vote on SB 700 because "the majority of residents won't do the research to determine whether the development is a good idea." However, Mr. MacArthur, as owner of a large excavation company in Steamboat that will benefit from the development, is qualified to sign his name to advertisements promoting SB700. Mr. MacArthur's disrepect of the average voter's intelligence is hard to shallow. The average voter in Steamboat is very informed and their opinion should be allowed through a public referendum on SB 700. Let there be a Referendum and allow both sides to make their case on SB700. We the public will have to live with or without SB 700 and our opinion needs to be heard. The proposed Rec Center is a great example of a Referendum that allowed the voter's opinion to be heard. I know Mr. MacArthur has not liked the idea of healthcare reform to be passed without his opinion being heard. Why is SB 700 any different?

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

There are many folks that are frustrated at the very thought that the annexation issue could be put to a public vote. I understand and appreciate their perspective. There also needs to be an appreciation that the City Charter allows for a vote if a sufficient number of citizens request it and follow the process outlined. I think the voters are not ignorant masses. I think given the opportunity "Joe/Sue" citizen will evaluate the annexation on its merits.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

After all of the meetings and steps taken so far, they still do not have numbers proving that Steamboat 700 could create housing for Steamboat's middle class given all the cost burdens in the annexation agreement.

Isn't that sort of issue exactly why it should be put to the voters?

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Karen_Dixon 4 years, 6 months ago

This is the next fork in the road. In 1973, we annexed the mountain town... 560 acres & 6,311 dwelling units (to date). The city took the fork in the road then that invited tourists and 2nd homeowners into town.... to turn Steamboat into a resort. But Steamboat has stated a priority to keep this town a real community, not to let it turn into solely a resort. I STRONGLY believe that if the fork of denial is taken here, the fate of Steamboat will be secured. It will simply become a resort and a place for the uber rich to come to play, and perhaps to invest in real estate here. It will be a town that is all about money & those who already have lots of it. There will be no way that working people, blue or white collar, non-trustfunders, who want to invest their lives in a community, invest their time in a community, raise their family in a community will be able to do that here. There will be no community worth being a part of.

When the city decided it wanted to embrace a resort here, the community character was changed forever. Not lost, but changed. It has been actively & hopelessly fighting with itself to regain that character ever since. Annexing a place for locals (those who are here now, as well as those who are yet to come) is the counter-balance of annexing a place for tourists. We can annex & try to keep the character we have now, or we can not annex & choose to change that character once again. If we choose denial, the counter-balance is lost, and the character we have now will be changed forever, just as it was when we chose to become a resort. We will be further tipping the scales toward elitism and exclusivity..... things that I would not be proud to be a part of.

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freerider 4 years, 6 months ago

More proof here that the 700 farce can't come up with numbers to support the smoke screen. Just more lip service trying to sell an illusion of affordable housing . And for anybody like Ed MacArthur and the rest of the 700 cheerleaders that think this is just toooooo complex for our little pea brains here's a little follow up to some more 1st grade math . 2000 new homes just North of town with 2 to 3 cars or trucks per household = 4 to 6 thousand more cars and trucks trying to get through town to get to the ski area . Plus the addition of more traffic from West of town = Complete gridlock . This isn't complex it's just stupid

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robert nestora 4 years, 6 months ago

boy, karen you seem bitter with the hand you've been dealt. if you look at statistics i am sure most steamboat residents are not uber-rich and the market has found them a place to live. your thinking your robin hood looking out for the poor doesnt play well with most middle class families who may have to pay for steamboat 700 if it fails. the rich have also contributed to the local economy and helped keep open spaces open. i feel that the people who live around steamboat 700 should decide their fate, personally i live on the east side and would be happy if the city expanded westward but i also feel for and support those most affected.

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Tubes 4 years, 6 months ago

congratulations freerider on your ability to perform your 1st grade math (those were your words, not mine) and calculate the increased traffic volumes created by 700 over the NEXT 20 YEARS. you sure seem proud of your analysis as you've performed it for us about 5 times now.

did you not know that 700 will be required to, and WILL construct lane/access improvements to facilitate said traffic increases/impacts? or are you purposely failing to mention this in your detailed traffic study? which is it?

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flotilla 4 years, 6 months ago

actually, tubes, 700 isn't required to do anything they've promised until after 380 units are constructed. that traffic building those 380 units ought to be fun.

So, first grade math... 380x2 people per unit (which is LOW)= 760 more cars on the road. SBS 700 isn't required to anything, no infrastructure, no roads, nothing until that number is hit.

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justice4all 4 years, 6 months ago

To add further demise to our valley and way of life is inevitable. AGAIN I ASK, WHERE WILL THE PEOPLE WORK??? Seems that everyone in a position to know is dodging this question. Think I just got it figured out. There is no answer because there is and will not be any new jobs associated with the sb700 ruins to our valley. Building a new house will not provide a new job. I challenge anyone to find a job that pays enough salary to support a home in sbt spgs today. Add 3000 new competing for the few jobs and see what happens to the salaries. Like the real estate market----DOWN IT GOES!!!

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Martha D Young 4 years, 6 months ago

The question still remains: what will it take for the 700 project to be a ballot issue? Clearly its most ardent supporters want to avoid putting the 700 to a vote because it's likely to fail. Please note that most of 700's primary supporters are connected to the building industry in one way or another.

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cindy constantine 4 years, 6 months ago

Some of us naysayers were against the original premise of Steamboat 700 to begin with--that the town would grow by 6000-6500 residents in one area in the next 20 years. Keep in mind this is not the only development being submitted for consideration--just the biggest. Danny and company did an admirable job designing a mixed use neighborhood based on the criteria given. (except for the fact that there was not a business enterprise zone incorporated into the plan, just a retail component). Planning did the right thing by approving the project BUT they have no fiduciary responsibility to the citizens--- Council has that job so they have to look at the project differently. 20 years from now us baby boomers will be dead or feeble and probably will be moving to a warmer clime. We have been victims of the current financial crisis and are busy trying to fund our retirement plans, health savings accounts, and frankly trying to be fully employed. The population in this town is shrinking now and perhaps will continue for a few years. It will be 7-9 years before we can absorb what real estate is on the market now, plus what is coming down the pike from the foreclosures during the next 12 months. Who else has noticed the number of condos now listed for less than $200,000? Affordable housing is just around the corner within the city limits, but where are those jobs? Two fine restaurants closing in Sept=40 jobs lost this winter. One thing we agree on, Danny,is the chaos in Washington is not giving many of us a "warm fuzzy" feeling. Looking at Steamboat's previous history of recession's is not a good barometer going forward in terms of expected growth. Sorry, but telecommuters are only a SMALL part of the equation. We need real jobs with real companies.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

Hi marthalee - There is a sidebar to this article (top right) that outlines the process described in the City's Municipal Code specifically addressing your question.

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lowclasslocal 4 years, 6 months ago

If you look at the picture on top of this article, I see what I think is a small part of the demographics of steamboat. Get off your computers and let your voice be heard. Protect your hometown.

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ElevenFootPole 4 years, 6 months ago

It's great that the Pilot chose to represent The Public with the guy who just moved here a week ago! Guess people ARE still moving here Cindy.

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cindy constantine 4 years, 6 months ago

The one guy pictured does not offset the 4 families that I know personally who have/will be moving by the end of November for good jobs out of state. What are they doing with their homes? Couldn't sell them, trying to rent them but may have to leave them empty for the better jobs and hope to sell them later.

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