Our View: Time to end silence after 700 vote

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Editorial Board, April 2010 to Aug. 8, 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Towny Anderson, community representative
  • Tatiana Achcar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

It’s now been more than a month since Steamboat Springs voters resoundingly overturned the City Council’s annexation agreement with Steamboat 700 developers, yet there’s hardly been a peep about it in council chambers. It’s time our elected officials reached out to the community for honest, detailed feedback about what led to the defeat. Those answers are necessary for Steamboat to prepare for future growth and development.

Perhaps the lack of public discussion about Steamboat 700 from Centennial Hall is the result of issue fatigue — after more than two years of planning and negotiating, city staff and officials might be taking a timeout in the immediate aftermath of the March 9 election. Or maybe they still are stunned. Regardless, the silence must end.

Council President Cari Hermacinski said the board is looking ahead to its April 20 joint meeting with the Routt County Board of Commissioners as an opportunity to discuss growth and development. Headlining that discussion likely will be the county’s recently proposed transfer of development rights regulations, which, if approved as written, would allow for 5-acre home sites just outside the urban growth boundary.

Maybe April 20 is the start of an honest look into the reasons our community said “no” to Steamboat 700. The TDR discussion certainly plays into the same larger issue of growth.

But we fear that a discussion among many of the same elected officials who publicly endorsed Steamboat 700 won’t provide the answers our community — and those same officials — need.

An additional and more appropriate step would be a comprehensive survey of all residents to help our elected officials understand why their agreement failed. Make the survey available online, and mail it to those who request a hard copy. Aim for a response rate similar to voter turnout last month. Hire a professional firm to write and administer the survey and compile and analyze the results. And do it soon because there’s particular value in engaging residents while the issue is fresh in their minds and before the passage of time and changing economic and other circumstances alter the reasons we remember for why we said “yes” or “no” at the polls.

We know Steamboat residents are tired of taxpayer-funded consultants and studies, but this is one we think has real merit. We also understand that the largest chunk of land within the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan still is owned by one entity, and there’s only so much control the city has over what that entity eventually proposes for development. After all the effort that went into the WSSAP and the annexation agreement, a clear voice from the people will help this developer and future ones understand the type of growth and development Steamboat Springs is willing to stand behind and approve. Such a voice is needed to break the current silence.

Comments

cindy constantine 4 years ago

Give it a rest, Brent. I think the reasons it failed are many and obvious. The last thing the City needs to spend money on is a professional surveyor to talk to the folks. How about we get the results of the census to see just how much we have grown in the past 20 years? If you are so interested send one of your reporters door-to-door to ask.

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mmjPatient22 4 years ago

Could you imagine what we'd be reading if the other side had a "news"-paper at their disposal?

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addlip2U 4 years ago

Look out!
700 is planning their next step, they don't need our input. In time we will be hearing about it soon enough. We have exhausted our tax dollars on a project clearly the community does not want. NO MORE!

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Scott Ford 4 years ago

Brent - Before we jump headlong into a very involved process, we need to have City Council answer three questions.

1) What is the value of knowing why SB700 was rejected?

2) Next, before the expenditure of time and treasure associated with gathering this information - what if anything would we do with it?

3) If the answer is likely we would do nothing with it - why do it?

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greenwash 4 years ago

Yea right , Real Estate is dead here and all around the globe.And it aint coming back.

Homes were meant to be lived in not bought and traded over and over again.the days of Flipping and taking advantage are over.

All you So called Brokers(mortgage,RE,appraisers,ETC) better find something else to do.

Why would anyone develope anything right now? No demand = No Need

Want a commercial space?Take your pick ....Just dont be stupid enough to pay a commission to a broker.

Negotiate your own deal.

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TWill 4 years ago

If you want the silence to end and see some action- have your 700 boys go back to the drawing board to start working on a scaled back proposal.

Its up to the developer to submit a revision to council, not the other way around.

The suggestion of hiring another "professional firm" as consultants is absurd and the type of thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.

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sledneck 4 years ago

get real dude. it's over. thank God. Go away. Real estate is not dead everwhere. It's booming in DC. It is also doing well in areas that did not subscribe to all the "affordable housing BS of the past decade or two.

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aichempty 4 years ago

It's really simple.

SB700 was a terrible idea during a real estate bust cycle.

Come back in 15 years and see how things are going. It'll be here before we know it.

Hey, does anybody remember all the angst when the mobile homes next to the rec center were being hauled away to make room for tennis courts? Those people either found another place to live, or they left town. The people who might have lived in SB700 will do the same thing.

When there are vacant lots in Hayden and nobody is buying them or building homes over there, the people who seriously want homes around here and have jobs to pay for them either don't exist, or are not in the market.

When there are 1000 people living in Steamboat who have money for a 20% down payment on $400,000 homes (2000 square footers) then it will be time to revisit the WSSAP for alternatives. Until then, it's just time and money spent on something worthless to contemplate.

Kids graduating from college with degrees in business, accounting and engineering/science are unable to find jobs in their fields. They won't be coming out here sniffing around for second homes or retirement homes for a long, long time.

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cindy constantine 4 years ago

Aich,

You had the best idea months back when you saw "a large conservation easement in the future of the 700 site". Maybe we can firm up the trail rights there that we neglected in the Humble Ranch paperwork. I personally think the best use of the site is a new campus for CMC. Wow they even have a new highway to the site that will make the emergency responders very happy!!

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cindy constantine 4 years ago

BTW-- Let's convert the buildings at the old CMC site to affordable housing and a new teen center.

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bigfatdog 4 years ago

the irony is this community states a focus for affordable housing, being a real town, etc. but the citizens are really anti-growth. as long as the government restricts financial institutions from lending, the high end real estate will see growth and that is exactly what second home owners and tourists want to see in our town. the citizens do not understand the consequences of limiting growth to this extent.

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Fred Duckels 4 years ago

I have lived through many cycles like this, and I see a lack of wisdom in abundance here. It's not the end civilization, it only seems that way to the inexperienced. Self interest and hypricacy abound, take the instance of two opponents,Omar Campbell and Bob Enever both recovering developers, both willing to lock the door after they have reaped theirs. Much of the opoposition is self centered and not interested in the long range future of the valley. I will be criticized here but I lived here for decades before it became profitable. I would like to see less growth, but with the laws that we have, it is necessary to face reality. If the economy erupts our efforts to micromanage will be a feather in the wind.

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Steve Lewis 4 years ago

Its very simple. As the absorption rate went south SB700 went huge, and we couldn't swallow the pill.

Leave the plan and "goal posts" exactly where they are, with the simple addition that we want smaller annexations.

I disagree with no-growth notions and think this effort was something to build from next time. The next effort has most of the annexation terrain and path well documented for everyone to see. Changing the plans would erase all of what we just established and we would be guessing anew, reinventing too much. The SB 700 master land use plan we just saw is the one element Council and the BCC should consider endorsing as a good future result.

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ybul 4 years ago

Fred, until the end of the cycle comes we will not know what the cycle was. So to state you have lived through many cycles like this might show a lack of wisdom also. This may be classified as a kondrietiev (sp?) super cycle winter, which comes along about once every 70-80 years historically. So this might be one of them there cycles when a cleansing of debt needs to occur and one that you may not have experienced.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Really does not matter why SB 700 failed at the ballot. Reality is that there were any number of reasons to vote no. Knowing exactly how many of the no voters cited which reasons is irrelevant to the City unless the City is considering buying the parcel in order to develop it. Since there were 3 City Council members that voted against it then they could easily enough poll themselves for reasons it was not approved.

It is reasonable to expect that there will be a recovery after the boom and subsequent bust. It is not as if there is some great reason why this will become a ghost town. At a cheap enough price this is still an attractive place to live. The big issue is when and what sort of recovery. The bust of the 70s was still having effects here well into the 80s and even the 90s. Whole swaths were zoned multi-family during the 70s and sat vacant until rezoned single family in the early 90s.

I think rate of absorption suggest there will be minimal construction activity for at least another 5 years. It seems that most often that any recovery is led by relatively modestly priced single family housing. It might be focused in Hayden which might have many inexpensive lots.

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Steve Lewis 4 years ago

Yep. I agree with last 2 posts. Painful as it is for our construction and realty community, the national recovery looks like it will be the "L" shaped one. And let's hope for no big stumbles along the way.

I'll apologize for skim reading before my earlier post, as my comment mirrors Aich's.

But Scott Ford's is the best post of all - "Why bother?"

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JLM 4 years ago

The will of the people has been done. That is what democracy is all about. And that is a good thing.

Like any situation --- perception is reality.

SBS is now perceived as a "no growth" environment which erects a higher hurdle to reentry for any future growth dynamic.

Fair, unfair? Doesn't really matter if the context suggests or the reality is different. Perception is reality.

SBS is now perceived as an unfriendly no growth community.

We all shall see if that matters a twit in the future.

The other reality? Affordable housing is only a debating society in SBS and it damn sure is not a reality. And that's not all bad either because if we really, really desired it to be othewise, we would stop talking and start doing.

Maybe it's not all bad as long as we perceive ourselves as we really are.

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Steve Lewis 4 years ago

I believe Steamboat is perceived, more than before, as a "smart growth" environment. If that is poor incentive to more development, so be it.

Certainly the act of rejecting 2,000 new units just as absorption turns dismal could be perceived as wisdom rather than evidence of "no growth" thinking.

Our grasping the pitfalls of annexing possibly a 30-40 year plan just as long standing economic rationales (and irrationales, as it were) and trends are being reshuffled could be perceived as true wisdom rather than evidence of "no growth" thinking.

Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Reality is not.

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Steve Lewis 4 years ago

One certain reality is that this vote shows a council completely out of touch with its constituency. Given Hermacinski's flip to support SB700 after she was elected, we have 5 of 7 on council who liked the agreement enough to vote for it, while 6 in 10 of the rest of Steamboat voted against it.

On the biggest issue of the decade, that is a serious gap in agendas.

Another certain reality is the oversupply of real estate inventory. Our out of proportion oversupply is simple evidence of Steamboat's years spent in pro-growth modes such as the URA for the base area. And it just got more so. Look at the code and significant up-zoning changes recently made at the base area.

Pro-growth is the both the perception and the reality of Steamboat's current and previous leadership.

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Fred Duckels 4 years ago

Many seem to be quick to raise the mission accomplished banner here, remember W.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Well the City Council vote was 4-3 so they are not completely out of touch. Just mostly out of touch.

I think what happens is Council "working with" staff and there are so many reasons why city staff favored it. First, because they had worked on it for so long. Second, working on something like this is great for resume (for instance, (was current city manager hired because he oversaw a city turn down a major annexation or for dealing with growth?). Third, big project means more money and more city jobs.

What gets me is how the developer got so out of touch. They've got the money for polling and so it is really bad that they ended up with a proposal that could only collect 39% of the vote at a campaign cost of over $80 a vote. (I think they would have been far better off with a far more specific affordable housing plan and say it is not fair for them to fix all west side traffic issues that is also caused by SB II, Silver Spur, Craig and Hayden residents).

The question of whether SB is pro growth or no growth is certainly not locked in stone, especially with the 360 project already in the process.

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freerider 4 years ago

Brent and staff , I really don't know what silence your talking about . Everybody was pretty vocal about this

It was a bad idea at a bad time ...the only people that supported it were local business owners that wanted more money form a larger population base including the Pilot

Anybody that brings " affordable housing" to the table is selling meadow muffins. All of Steamboat has smelled enough of that stink

The traffic and water issue's were nothing but lip service . Mulchahy constantly side stepped both issue's and took a because we say so stance on both of them based on their opinion's which were questionable at best

Now people are leaving Steamboat by the truck load . there is no work out there and I personnaly know a dozen or more long time locals talking about leaving town. They just keep thinking that things have to get better but they are not getting better things are getting worse...The Village Inn story is just one of many more to come

There will be more and more foreclosures and no jobs anytime soon And we needed 2000 more houses in this economy ?? Built by workers from Tiajauna via Las Vegas Like I said bad idea at a bad time They took the all or nothing approach and got nothing Nobody likes something like this jammed down their throats And that's what it felt like

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Steve Lewis 4 years ago

Scott, Council was 5-2 in supporting SB700. That was the score right before the SB700 vote. Feel free to support Cari’s explanation of her flip: http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20...

I agree that one's personal decision could be different than the decision one would make from a leadership position. The problem is, the former is the decision you make in the privacy of the voting booth. The latter is the decision you take to the newspaper as the voting begins.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Steve, The recorded vote was 4-3.

Regardless, the City could ask some of the City Council members of various reasons to oppose SB 700. Cari has the unique advantage of being able to interview herself as both a supporter and someone that voted against it.

She handled her votes about as poorly as a politician could handle an issue. Managed to disappoint just about everyone on both sides of the issue. Not only did she vote both sides, she didn't have convincing reasons for voting either way. More remarkably, she may be the only person during the election campaign that switched from against it to supporting it. I think far more people were expecting that once they learned more then they'd see why it was a good idea, but the more that was learned about it, the less that was there for affordable housing and so on.

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JLM 4 years ago

What would be the project of other local initiative that would differentiate SBS as being "smart" growth rather than "no" growth?

What would be the "real" affordable housing initiative that would shout "liar" to one who might say that SBS is all hat and no cattle when it comes to affordable housing? All talk, no action?

I have never heard more folks congratulating themselves on achieving less than the current SBS environment.

But, hey, that could just be me?

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blue_spruce 4 years ago

"...remember W..."

i thought "W" was your boy?

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Karen_Dixon 4 years ago

In my opinion, this was a straightforward case of confusion. People thought they were voting on a development. That misconception was started & perpetuated by the city process - shame on us. The fact is, this was not a development. It was a zoning acquisition. It was an opportunity for the city to take control of land that has been deemed beneficial to the city. That deeming was done through a lengthy city wide process during which smart folks took a broad view of the valley - from 10,000' in the air & with a 50-100 year calendar - to determine where the city COULD grow when it was necessary. The timing of that zoning acquisition should have been irrelevant. (When you're planning for your retirement, you don't turn down a savings account at the age of 25 because you're not ready to retire yet, do you?) The size of the acquisition should also be irrelevant, except however that we should take control of as much as we can within our UGB when we get the chance. Why would you ever want to use valuable resources taking small chunks at a time when you can get it all at once? Do the principles of Efficiency Fiduciary Responsibility mean anything to you folks who want to use city resources to go through this process one small parcel at a time - over and over and over?

The question posed to the city by the city should have been a simple one. Do you want control of what happens on this land or don't you? Period. That is all an annexation is. It is not a development. Development still must go through an arduous approvals process. Land is entitled to be developed because this is America and that's how we operate. The intensity at which it is allowed to develop depends on state laws & local zoning codes. This particular piece of land - the land that we have designated as our targeted future growth area - currently has the right to develop at 1 unit per 35 acres. We, the city, have no control over that. That rate does NOT further our community goals & is NOT beneficial to the future of the city. That density level is a HUGE waste of precious land and at that rate, ultimately causes more and more of our precious land to be used up for human habitation. That is the principle of sprawl. And THAT is what we had the chance to avoid if we had gained control of that land. Who knows what they will ultimately do with the land - it is currently out of our control. We threw away a perfectly good opportunity to bank land for our future needs.

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Fred Duckels 4 years ago

Karen, Please put this in the Sunday Pilot, I just wish that this had been brought forth earlier to combat the sabotage of 700.

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Fred Duckels 4 years ago

Karen, Please put this in the Sunday Pilot, I just wish that this had been brought forth earlier to combat the sabotage of 700. I'm sure that Steve Lewis will get in the last word.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

A straightforward case of confusion? Well, you have just completely discredited yourself.

First, it takes incredible arrogance to assume that you were right and 61% of the voters were wrong.

Second, it was a constant theme of the process that annexation is when gov't has the power to control and direct the development. That once the annexation is approved that the power to address issues is greatly diminished. So now, when it is all over, you say it was just a "zoning acquisition". Shame on you.

Third, why do you try to make these various arguments now? You really think SB 700 just spent $140,000 on a campaign which worked out to over $80 per yes vote failed to get their message out?

Your post proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are completely out of touch with the people of SB and no longer represent us. If you sincerely believe this post then you should feel morally and ethically obligated to resign from the Planning Board.

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pitpoodle 4 years ago

There was no confusion by the voters on SB 700. Everyone knew that the vote was for or against a particular and onerous annexation agreement between City Council and the 700 developers. I would like to point out that many local business owners voted to make the right decision for Steamboat's quality of life, water interests and cost of living in general -- not to ensure more customers for their own profit. I am proud of their decision and vote. The annexation agreement deserved to go down. The best we can hope for is that Council will listen to its constituents or we can vote them out too. Perhaps that would be our best choice. Too bad we don't have the same options for the SB Pilot & Today.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Karen Dixon's letter should be in the newspaper. A reporter should ask her about her comments. Those are radical comments. She just called 61% of the voters ignorant. It is amazing that a planning board member could say "Land is entitled to be developed because this is America and that's how we operate." I thought that sort of thinking had ended when Teddy Roosevelt created the national park system.

She is on the Planning Commission! How could there be any doubts on how she is going to vote on any issue?

I suppose that should end any discussion of doing a community survey to understand why the voters rejected SB 700. The issue is obviously the radical pro growth people in our city government are completely out of touch with 61% of the population.

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Fred Duckels 4 years ago

We seem to have a well oiled damage control machine worthy of the highest order.

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pitpoodle 4 years ago

I suppose our options of removing a planning commissioner are the same as removing the SB Pilot & Today? Let's see, Council appoints commissioners. Maybe a new council is the right choice.

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Steve Lewis 4 years ago

I've heard of sour grapes, but this is getting over the top. Recent comments:

"This week, the Steamboat community stepped in the way of a producer and for that we owe an apology."

"Do the principles of Efficiency Fiduciary Responsibility mean anything to you folks...?" "... we do not know the real reasons 61% voted the way they did. ...we have heard from the vocal minority."

"Now that the citizens of Steamboat have spoken concerning... the effective “Aspenization of Steamboat,” negating 15 years and thousands of hours spent with planning... and a developer who followed and improved upon this plan in good faith..."

.

Time to end the silence? On the contrary, the people have spoken. Its time for SB700's supporters, including the Pilot, to accept that 61% is NOT a nuanced and complicated answer.

Its time to move on. Don't move the goalposts. V2020 and V2030 look extremely similar - the plans don't need to be changed.

And stop dismissing the wisdom of your neighbors. They are no less wise than you.

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Fred Duckels 4 years ago

Maybe a fairness doctrine is in order. Thin skin seem to be in evidence here. I predict that in the long run this vote will be for naught, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

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Karen_Dixon 4 years ago

Wow Scott. Misinterpretation rules when something strikes a nerve. I did not call anyone ignorant. What I said was that the process created confusion over what the application actually was. That's a discredit to the CITY not the Citizens. And YES - property owners have rights in America. 1 per 35 in this state is their development right. I do not believe that type of development is good for the future of Steamboat for this particular piece of property. Nor is it environmentally responsible development. Perhaps you should apply for Planning Commission?

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Karen, I thought it was fair to consider your phrase "this was a straightforward case of confusion" as a synonym for saying the voters were ignorant. If you think the voters were confused on the issues then it would follow that you think the voters were ignorant of the essential issues.

Yes, it does hit a nerve when a public official after losing an election blames the voters. The only voters that were properly informed and understood the issues voted your way? While those that voted against you because of "a straightforward case of confusion"? It would appear that you fundamentally do not believe in democracy. If you believed in democracy then you do not blame the voters when you lose at the ballot.

Okay, there are some situations where a highly motivated minority win an obscure election when the less motivated majority fails to vote. The SB 700 election was the antithesis of that. It was a highly visible election. The campaign for your side spent an incredible $140,000, about $35 per voter while your opponents spent about $4.50 per voter. If there was ever an opportunity to have a fully informed electorate on why to vote yes then that was it. And yet you say "this was a straightforward case of confusion."

It should be obvious even to you that you are completely out of touch with SB voters - not only do you disagree with how they voted, you deny that they were informed or had good reasons to vote no. Thus, why do you continue to serve on the Planning Commission? If you sincerely cared about public service then you should resign and suggest that someone better connected to the voters be appointed in your place. If you resign then I'll apply for your seat.

On the topic of 35 acre parcels, I think the situation has degenerated to the extent that breaking it up into 35 acre parcels might be the best way to meet the goals of the WSSAP. It is a complete farce to suggest that those 35 parcels would be bought as anything other than for their potential to be annexed into SB. And if we had a bunch of different property owners trying to get their parcel annexed and developed then we could pick the best and make that the standard for the rest.

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Karen_Dixon 4 years ago

Scott The point being made consisted of more than 1 sentence. Additionally confusion is not synonymous with ignorance. You put meaning behind my words that was not there.

I did not lose an election. I have no stake in the property. No one voted for me or against me. I placed no blame on any voters for any particular outcome. City officials treated this as a development rather than an annexation. It is no surprise that "a" development was voted down through the democratic process.(A process which I hold in high regard, by the way) It is, in my opinion, unfortunate that the city treated it as a development, presented it as a development, & did nothing to clarify the distinction. It is also unfortunate, again in my opinion, that the city has possibly lost the opportunity to control what happens on the land. Admittedly however, we don't know that we've lost it because we don't know what the land owner is going to do next. We do know that he can do another Storm Mountain Ranch by right. And through a fairly simple county process, we also know that he can do another Maribou or Catamount or Alpine Mountain Ranch. We do know that he cannot do what the WSSAP declares that this community wants him to do without going through the annexation process again. (Do you think it's likely he or anyone who buys the property will choose that path?) We also know that if he chooses to sell it in 35's & the buyers of those 35's, as you suggest, have the intent to annex, that they will each have to come through the annexation process individually. Each application is time & money. 15 applications, one at a time, is more costly & less efficient. That isn't rocket science.

You are way off base Scott. Left field in fact. Confused possibly? LOL.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

County has agreed as part of the WSSAP to not make any zoning change to the SB 700 parcel other than annexation to the city. We have not lost control of anything by voting down SB 700.

Come on, Karen "Land is entitled to be developed because this is America and that's how we operate" Dixon, don't you have any better scare tactics than that?

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Oh, so the City Planning dept, City Council and the developer were confused that this should have just been an annexation and not treated like a development proposal. And thus, the voters correctly recognized the confusion and voted no.

I suppose that is one way of viewing what happened.

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Karen_Dixon 4 years ago

Scare tactics for what exactly? I have no clue what you are talking about. I think the community lost on this deal. You think the opposite. 61% thinks the opposite. This is okay. Are you not able to disagree in a civil manner? I won't perpetuate this, so go ahead and get in the last word. I'll see you at our next Planning policy worksession & I look forward to your input.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Karen, I am referring to scare tactics saying that the parcel will be lost as another Maribou or such land preservation development. County will not rezone the parcel because it is within the urban growth boundary. Part of the understanding between City and County is that property within the UGB is to be developed by being annexed into the City, not by County up zoning. As a city planning commissioner, you should know that.

Parcel could be split into 35 acre parcels without approval of the county (or city). But then each of 35 acre parcels would still be candidates for annexation. I just do not see the exceptional value there for 35 ranchettes that would justify expecting those parcels would remain as 35 acre parcels as compared to the owners seeing far more value as annexation candidates.

I think the community won big time by rejecting this deal. You have just argued that it was "straightforward confusion". I have seen nothing before or after the election to think SB 700 was such a great deal. In fact, the more it is discussed then the easier it is to envision how it could have gone horribly wrong.

And it is not civil to keep repeating your comment "Land is entitled to be developed because this is America and that's how we operate"? Maybe you miss why that is an offensive comment. It is offensive because the most basic logic means that you think that someone whom believes land is not entitled to be developed is UnAmerican. You do not have the right to question my patriotism.

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carlyle 4 years ago

Interesting to watch the traffic flow through town right now. Bumper-to-bumper in the morning, west to east and south. Bumper-to-bumper in the evening, south and east to west. Whatever planning existed to create this fiasco was surely screwed up. Worse, the expansion of CMC and whatever happens west of the current city limits can only make this ........ ........ ........! A pox on all your houses.

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ybul 4 years ago

Karen,

So I asked this before of fiduciary responsibilities. 700 promised a lot in future taxes on the property being developed to pay for infrastructure. As 360 is currently being proposed and if passed without similar impact fees associated with its development, is it possible, even more so probable that the city would have legal issues with the imposition of taxes on one piece of property that is annexed while another that was annexed at about the same time not having similar fees associated with it for proposed infrastructure that will be needed in the future?

Seems to me that given the multiple developments on the table if all did not have additional and similar taxes then the city would be in for a legal battle that it could lose AND then be stuck with coming up with a plan to pay for this new development.

This does not address the water issue, that concerned me in the laissez faire attitude the city employee had when discussing where water rights for the elk would come from.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Ybul, I think the city could easily enough point out various differences in the parcels and so on to justify treating one annexation differently than another. So there is no reason to worry about a legal battle regarding differences in annexation agreements between one parcel and another.

The idea that the real estate transfer tax would withstand court scrutiny appears to be highly speculative because that scheme of imposing it via deed restriction has not been legally tested in Colorado. It stinks of being a legal trick which if upheld would completely negate that part of the Tabor amendment. It is obvious that the deed restriction is being placed on the properties as a condition of annexation and so the real estate transfer tax is being imposed by the government. If that is legal then a city could just as easily require that sort of deed restriction as part of pulling a building permit and so on.

(It is completely different than what was done in that other SB project that at times was called a real estate transfer tax, but was really just developer fees that were allowed to be paid when units sold instead of at start of construction. In that project the transfer fees were only owed by the developer, not by any subsequent owner).

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Karen_Dixon 4 years ago

Thanks George for bringing up the real debate behind what I said. I do understand land use law. Annexation gives that property owner the right to develop at the zoning density placed upon it at time of annexation, which is much higher than its current ag zoning. That is good for the property owner: it typically increases the value of his land, which is why any property owner would choose that route. That it was good for the property owner is what rubs many the wrong way, whether or not it was also good for the city.

Urban density is in fact what our growth plans call for on that property. You are correct in that a city in this state gets only one chance to "ask for the moon": at time of annexation. I'm sure you disagree, but in my opinion, just because we can doesn't mean we should ask for "the moon." If the goal for the city is attainable/affordable housing, the question is what should we be requiring in the agreement to meet that goal. An unpopular but true statement: Understanding that a property owner must meet financial goals in order to get that property owner to meet the city's goals is the key to successful negotiations. Are we in control of the property & can we ensure that it meets our goal? No. That's not a scare tactic. It's a statement of fact. That property already is subdivided into 35 acre parcels. Selling or replatting & selling is within his right. Applying for an LPS (ala Maribou) is also within his right.... no rezoning is required. An LPS is 1 per 35 acre density; the county gives a 1 unit per 100 acre incentive if you cluster your units and conserve contiguous land. If they met the application requirements, it would be granted. Are we in control of the annexation process? 50% of it. If you think George that we are in the drivers seat & can do whatever we want & still achieve our goal, then you are the government norm I suppose.

Through your experience, I'm sure you know George that housing costs a city money. It never pays for itself. In some cities - not ours - the property taxes offset the cost of housing. We have a plan that has attainable/affordable housing as it's primary goal. That plan requires that this housing pay for itself - not cost the city anything. We don't even require that of our current (primarily market rate) housing. The goal and the requirement do not sync. In my opinion, we need to adjust one or the other. Going forward, IF the community still thinks it makes sense to target our growth in the West of Steamboat area, fiscal neutrality needs to be revisited & we need to know if the elephant in the room is even willing to come back to the table. Perhaps the community now thinks that growth in the West is no longer desirable for one reason or another. If so, fine... Let's get THAT discussion going.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

Karen, Do yourself a favor and ask the county if the county would automatically approve LPS for SB700. The county generally gives LPS when requested because that is considered better than 35 acre parcels. But unlike 35 acre parcels, LPS is NOT a use by right and it can be turned down by the county. The county has agreed that it will not upzone land within the UGB. That land within the UGB is to be developed by annexation into SB and then according to SB zoning. Thus, it would be a radical move, the end of intergovernmental cooperation on area plans and so on , if the county were to approve LPS for SB 700 parcel.

How about you actually listening and learning from the discussion regarding basic issues of how annexations, area plans, and city/county cooperation work? Once we achieve that basic understanding then maybe we could move towards more advanced topics such as balancing revenue neutrality with public benefits such as affordable housing.

Karen writes: "Are we in control of the property & can we ensure that it meets our goal? No" Actually, by rejecting the horribly flawed annexation agreement, we are still in control. We still have complete control over what terms the property is annexed. We did not accept a crippled affordable housing plan. We did not accept smoke and mirrors financing via a blatantly illegal real estate transfer tax.

We cannot force the property owner to annex the property. It was a terrible flaw of the origination WSSAP to specify the growth area that was almost entirely controlled by one property owner. Around that time I talked to planner John Eastman, a major player in creating the WSSAP, and he recognized that issue. He said that he had tried to include land along 20 mile in a flexible plan so that there was pressure on property owners to apply for annexation or risk being left out (something like in this 1,000 acre area, we will annex property contiguous to the city (including previous annexations) and once 500 acres are annexed then that new urban boundary). With the real estate market bust, we are not going to see anything happen with SB 700, there is just no demand for lots right now and there is a huge supply.

You also fail to understand there is a huge difference in cost of housing to the city if it is infill vs annexation. Infill is far cheaper than annexation because the utility infrastructure is already there, no extra roads to pave, it is already within the police and fire districts and so on. There is minimal expansion of city services for infill.

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Karen_Dixon 4 years ago

I am a HUGE proponent of infill and Smart Growth principles. Come to any of our meetings and you will realize that. Those who know me and fight against me during infill policy discussions are probably laughing at your statement. I did not live here when the WSSAP was being written. I probably would not have supported it.

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ybul 4 years ago

Thanks Scott, However, there is little difference in the need for fire protection if a new fire station is built. That plus the reasons you state make it hard for me to believe that any tax associated with these properties will hold up, if actually put to the test. It would probably end up like the humble ranch deal for the city in which the end up spending a lot of money on attorneys and end up with nothing except a lot of debt that the entire community needs to pay for.

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Scott Wedel 4 years ago

So Karen, do you understand that the County would not be expected to approve SB 700 being subdivided into a LPS? Or at the very least that the City would be extremely upset at the County acting contrary to the WSSAP and the principles of the UGB if the County were to do so?

Or do you still think that SB 700 could see the development rights become deed restricted via county approval of a LPS?

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