Routt County commissioners table TDR

Board votes unanimously to delay action on growth plans


TDR at a glance

The transfer of development rights regulations tabled by the county Tuesday afternoon would provide a mechanism for conserving outlying rural parcels, particularly those with working agricultural operations, valuable wildlife and scenic beauty. That would be accomplished by shifting development potential to designated areas close to the city limits through a private transaction between landowners but approved of by the county.

The draft regulations the Routt County Board of Commissioners was considering could have created about 250 5-acre home sites in a crescent shape around the north side of Steamboat Springs, wrapping to the western edge of the urban growth boundary.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to table indefinitely the transfer of development rights that have become controversial as some county residents have branded them as enabling urban sprawl.

However, the commissioners weren’t in lock step on the matter. Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush initially said she wanted to deny approval of the draft regulations because they would up-zone 1,600 acres of rural land to increased density.

“It’s a significant up-zoning … on a scale we haven’t seen since Stagecoach or Steamboat Lake,” Mitsch Bush said. “This massive up-zoning, which doesn’t comply (with the county master plan), would be unwise.”

Mitsch Bush and Commission Chairwoman Nancy Stahoviak differed about whether the TDR regulations as proposed were consistent with several existing community planning initiatives, including the county Master Plan, Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

“Regardless of our analysis of what the 700 annexation vote means, these regulations are inconsistent with Chapters 3 and 4 on rural development in the Routt County Master Plan,” Mitsch Bush said.

But Stahoviak countered by citing several passages in the WSSAP inferring that a transfer of development rights program could create less dense housing areas that form a transition to rural farm lands.

“We have been hearing that what we are proposing is not in compliance with our community plans,” Stahoviak said. “I simply do not believe that is the case.”

Former City Council Pres­ident Ken Brenner, Steam­boat resident Paul Stettner and North Routt rancher Jay Fetcher agreed that the county was premature in identifying specific parcels of land that could become TDR developments.

“It’s critical to get procedures down before you identify any (development) areas,” Stettner said.

“It seems like the regulations should be put in place before we talk about specific projects,” Fetcher said. “All of a sudden, you’re putting value on peoples’ land. Anything close to Steamboat can (develop 5-acre lots); North Routt can only do (35-acre parcels).”

Brenner suggested that the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan update of 2004 was overdue for revisions.

“The past joint planning efforts of Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs are a model in Colorado,” he said. “I think it’s time — the update of the Community Plan is an opportunity to reaffirm the strong working partnership between our city and county.”

Steamboat II resident Doug Baker told the commissioners the regulations could lead to undesirable growth.

“I think this is a pretty good form of urban sprawl,” Baker said. “I have concern about 250 septic systems and fragrant water running down the road. My fear is we’re going to see 250 5-acre houses with a barn and a horse and a pile of junk.”

Ultimately, Mitsch Bush softened her stance, calling TDR a tool that offers “great promise” and deserves further study. She seconded Commissioner Doug Monger’s motion to table the draft regulations with Stahoviak’s conditions, which call for further study on specific issues. They include, but aren’t limited to: qualifying how much development threat is faced by lands conserved in the TDR process, potential transportation issues created by new TDR subdivisions, learning more about the city’s desire to be involved, basing TDR receiving areas on criteria rather than a map, and the exploration of creating a citizens committee to advise on TDR regulations.

Stahoviak added that the county’s decision in fall 2009 to eliminate, for fiscal reasons, the position of assistant county planning director likely would mean that work on TDR would proceed more gradually.

Monger said he’s committed to continuing to pursue TDR, but he cautioned the audience that the county would not relinquish its ultimate authority on TDR regulations.

“This is just the start of the process to me,” Monger said. “I don’t believe this is the end of the process in no way. I take with great pride my decision-making ability, and we’re not going to turn over our decision-making ability for something in this county. There’s nothing to be damaged in the short run to tabling this. I’m all in favor of having further outreach.”

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail


Cedar Beauregard 7 years ago

"basing TDR receiving areas on criteria rather than a map"

I really like this idea. Personally I think we should consider changing the Urban Growth Boundary to a set of criteria rather than a map also. The subsequent artificial increase of the property values within these mapped areas creates significant problems for all involved.

I myself am very excited about looking into creating receiving areas within the City Limits of Steamboat. We are currently looking at up-zoning two zone districts and creating another Small Lot Subdivision zone district, specifically to reduce the necessity for Sprawl.

The idea of linking this infill with a TDR program in the county makes the infill vs. sprawl correlation a surety.


Karen_Dixon 7 years ago

Cedar - I couldn't agree more. In addition to criteria, prerequisites should also be considered.


Fred Duckels 7 years ago

Appalachia West? 700 come back! What will this contribute to needed public facilities and transportation? 0?


housepoor 7 years ago

So explain to me the point of just setting criteria but not showing the areas that meet that criteria on a map??? Once the criteria is set, certain areas will be deemed suitable for tdr and some won’t.


Cedar Beauregard 7 years ago

Thats a very good question housepoor.

My quick answer is that a list of criteria are subjective in nature and can be reviewed without the overlying certainty that the map implies.

It also allows the applicants to present applications that might be the best alternative but have not been perceived during the maps creation.


housepoor 7 years ago

How can the criteria be subjective? It should be based on tangible things like access to existing roads, wildlife environmental impacts, proximity to existing services(schoolsfireshopping) etc. You plug all those variables in and come up with the suitable areas.


Cedar Beauregard 7 years ago

Well when I plug in the variables you just stated I get Strawberry Park??

I wish it was that simple..


housepoor 7 years ago

Makes sense, let’s do it!! Those friendly folks up there would love it............and it would be easy to add that area to the bus route..............LOL


Cedar Beauregard 7 years ago

Now that we have seen the impacts of putting people out on the "reservation." I for one have a whole new perspective on how we should grow...

Strawberry Park is political suicide but a very logical expansion. I remember when it was planned across from my Grandparents house in the 70's.


Cedar Beauregard 7 years ago

Suffering bloggers remorse as usual after blogging.....


sparkle 7 years ago

Cedar, I appreciate your work on planning commission, and your open mind, but I've just got to say those are the cutest twins in your photo ever!! You can't help but smile when you look at them. Thanks for brightening my day.


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