Chris Puckett spoke at Good Morning Steamboat on Friday on behalf of Good For Steamboat advocating for the annexation of Steamboat 700.

Photo by Tom Ross

Chris Puckett spoke at Good Morning Steamboat on Friday on behalf of Good For Steamboat advocating for the annexation of Steamboat 700.

Steamboat 700 advocates, opponents discuss impacts on market


Vote on 700

■ Ballots for the mail-only election will be sent to registered Steamboat Springs voters between Feb. 15 and 19. The election ends March 9.

■ Steamboat 700 is a proposed master-planned community on 487 acres adjacent to the western city limits of Steamboat Springs. The project proposes about 2,000 homes — from apartments to single-family home lots — and 380,000 square feet of commercial development that would be built to the standards of new urbanism (dense, walkable and transit-friendly).


Bill Moser spoke on behalf of the Let's Vote group challenging City Council' annexation of Steamboat 700. He contends adding 2,00 new homes would destabilize the local housing market.

— Advocates on both sides of the Ste­amboat 700 ballot question debated Friday whether the controversial project would deal a setback to the Routt County housing market.

“What we’re seeing with the 700 development is an addition on the supply side of 2,000 units,” longtime Realtor Bill Moser said. “What I’ve seen in the local economy since 1972 is that when you add that supply, it’s going to destabilize the real estate industry.”

He made his remarks on behalf of the Let’s Vote group during the monthly Good Mor­ning Steamboat meeting hosted by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Let’s Vote is challenging last year’s City Council decision approving an annexation agreement for land west of city limits, which would allow the developers to enter the planning process.

Speaking for Good For Stea­m­boat, a citizen group advocating in favor of the annexation agreement, local investment adviser Chris Puckett contended that Moser was overlooking a key point.

“The fear is being spread that next year there’s going to be 2,000 housing units out there,” Puckett said. He added that it’s in the best interests of developers to gradually bring housing units to market as the local economy picks up. It could take decades for Steamboat 700 to build out, he said.

Friday’s debate before a silent audience of about 25 people, mostly business leaders, was short and to the point. The Good Morning format introduces four or five speakers on different topics and gives each of them no more than seven minutes to make their point.

Moser said the city of Steamboat Springs lacks adequate answers for coping with the additional traffic he said would be generated by the future residents of Steamboat 700.

“It’s not an issue with the developer,” Moser said. “The city, over the last 25 years, studied 17 partial and complete approaches to rerouting traffic (through downtown). So, the question is, why haven’t they done this? It’s been hampered by a lack of political will on the part of the city.”

Moser contended that it’s not satisfactory to entertain a 50 percent increase in traffic flow and not have answers for how to cope with the impact.

Puckett countered by saying the 700 development offers the city an opportunity to improve traffic flow west of Steamboat on U.S. Highway 40.

Moser told the audience that the recent experience of nearby communities including Granby and Eagle illustrates that this is a difficult time to make an annexation and the corresponding development work. Both approved annexations that resulted in struggling housing projects, he said.

“We’re not opposed to growth,” he said, “but we think it needs to be smart growth.”

Puckett characterized Steam­boat 700 as an opportunity to grow in a thoughtful manner.

“I’m concerned we’ll be losing a real opportunity to have the smart growth we need over the next 20 to 30 years,” he said.


blue_spruce 7 years, 3 months ago

“What we’re seeing with the 700 development is an addition on the supply side of 2,000 units,” longtime Realtor Bill Moser said. “What I’ve seen in the local economy since 1972 is that when you add that supply, it’s going to destabilize the real estate industry.”

well put. and this is coming from a realtor - someone you'd expect to be pro-growth at any cost.

it seems like the only side that "wins" in this scenario is the developer, and of course those few local companies sure to benefit...(think excavation, for instance....). by pushing foward with the 700 "plan". by further destabilizing housing market everyone who lives here that has struggled to buy a condo/town-home/home over the past 20 years gets screwed. steamboat II, oak creek, stagecoach, etc... there are a lot of people that sacrificed to make this town work before there were any “affordable houses” on the market – people that would have qualified for the affordable housing thing today, by the way – who get hung out to dry if we go ahead with the 700 plan. when free-market economic forces have “corrected” the market to look like what it does today, why the heck are we still pretending its 2007 when it comes to Steamboat 700?!?


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

Seems to me there are plenty of examples of small cities (<,25,000 pop) that have attempted annexations of vacant land representing at least a 40% increase which have not worked out well. They all seem to share a common thread of being annexed during a boom and failing during a subsequent bust. Then the ownership is either in bankruptcy or otherwise paralyzed so that it cannot advance and so there are some buildings surrounded by vacant land and for a variety of reasons, there are now better places to build.

What I have not seen are examples of major annexations of vacant land that have worked out well. Can the supporters provide examples?


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago

Market conditions and building costs are going to result in the sad reality that everything in SB700 the same size as existing homes is going to cost MORE.

The "more supply" assumption is based on builders being able to construct units that will sell. They are not going to build unless there is demand. Supply will not lead demand in this instance, because there is no business model that creates enough demand to have any real impact on local conditions.

If SB700 was going to provide lower cost housing alternatives, there would be demand for it, but that's not the case at this time. When existing inventory is sold, and prices rise to levels where a 1500 sq. ft. home sells for $500,000 or more, then you may see some building.

As I have pointed out in this discussion before, the ideal project from the builder's point of view is MORE expensive. That's where the money is.

The SB700 folks won't tell you this, because it hurts their "affordable housing" claim, but if you look back at the history of spec home construction over the past 10 years, nobody has been putting up smaller and cheaper homes to take advantage of that market. When a spec builder takes a risk on a project, he's going to maximize his return, and that comes from high-end, luxury homes.

SB700 developers avoided the responsibility to actually build "affordable" homes by agreeing to give away land for that purpose instead. That was really a coup for them. The land they give away is going to cost much less than the homes they would have been forced to build, or the "fees in lieu" that would have been required of other developers.

I owned a home that I bought for under $120,000 in the early 90s. I resold it for $170,000 four years later. It sold again for over $350,000 a couple of years ago. Comparable homes were on the market for $500,000 just before the bust. Builders are not going to be able to construct a comparable home today to sell for less than $350,000, and they wouldn't make much money from it.

So, the reality is that we don't have to fear that people will build cheaper homes and drag down prices. They just won't build until the market can bear $500,000 price tags again.


Carrie Requist 7 years, 3 months ago

George - I, too, have big concerns about infrastructure, especially about highway 40. The community cannot handle much more growth in any way without address the traffic flow. In general, I think communities do best to plan their growth, not just have it happen haphazardly and that growth happens whether you plan it or not. I would like to see a focus on the infrastructure to support panned growth.


freerider 7 years, 3 months ago

The only people for this 700 farce are seeing dollar signs ....$$$$$ the rest of us just see more goobers moving to town , more traffic , more headaches....less water , less quality of about a " make Steamboat smaller " campaign far as the traffic issue there " IS NOT A SOLUTION " unless you move the Yampa river , anything else is just lip service from the cheerleaders . Local builders won't get a shot at this either because the work force will be imported from Tiajuana


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

The economics of housing is one of the most fully understood economic algorithms in the American economy. The real estate industry does an excellent job of cataloging the information that is necessary to measure and understand the dynamics of the local market.

It is very straightforward supply & demand analysis with the only real question being the typical recessionary falling price dilemma --- what is the current market value of a house when no comparable houses are selling? This is the classic "price discovery" challenge when there is insufficient information available to quantify the answer.

Aich is absolutely correct, when he says that no rational new construction is likely to occur until the cost of a new house is within spitting distance of the cost of buying an existing one. The only width to that chalkstripe is the perceived value of "new" v "used" and a meaningful difference in the location or any unique services (e.g. community clubhouse, security, etc.) provided.

There are always specific characteristics (ugly houses, special construction, larger lots, garages, etc) which will impact perceived values but you just have to take a stab at valuing these features.

Until the "for sale" supply is absorbed --- at any price --- there will be no upward pressure on pricing. When demand exceeds supply, there will be great upward pressure on pricing. New construction will be spawned when prices begin to approach physical replacement costs.

It is easy to analyze the current position of the market by identifying the number of units available for sale, the number of units actually sold and the actual sales price as a percentage of the asking price. Graph these numbers over a six month historic period and you can see if the market is becoming healthy or is continuing to bleed.

Use the same numbers to derive the supply in terms of the "number of months remaining". Markets in equilibrium are at about 6 months supply of homes remaining to be sold trading within 5% of the asking price. Equilibrium does not mean "healthy".

If you want to add some sensitivity context to the analysis, perform the same analysis using different size homes and condos. Add in an element of "cost per square foot" and the picture really comes into focus. Overlay a matrix of location (Old Town v other neighborhoods) and you have a very clear picture.

When it comes time to build homes at SB 700, this analysis will also be able to predict absorption rates and pricing points.

One assurance you can count on is that homes will not be built at SB 700 until the predictive indicators are in balance. 2000 homes could be a 20-30 year supply, so I would not really worry about any meaningful short term impacts on SBS.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

E-verify is way, way over due. This is a simple matter of political will.

The problem of illegal labor will be cleared up in SBS as soon as one SBS contractor or restaurateur sues another (who is using illegal labor) for unfair trade practices.

Illegal acts are prima facie evidence of unfair trade practices.

Call ICE --- US Immigration and Customs Enforcement --- and turn in a violator who is using illegal labor.

Call the IRS to report payroll tax fraud if violators are allowing illegals to use phoney SSANs and to establish payroll accounts which they know to be false.


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


Although we are in violent agreement on most of the issues, the one thing that DOES impact SBS directly upon annexation is the contract requiring the City to provide water and waste water treatment before development can proceed.


mavis 7 years, 3 months ago

blue... There are actually several excavating companies NOT supporting 700.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ aic ---

While there is a requirement to provide w & ww upon annexation what is the real load until some homes are built?

The only real issue is the necessity to provide "capacity" while the developer has to provide the infrastructure --- roads, water distribution piping, wastewater collection piping --- before the first home can be developed.

Meanwhile the City of SBS collects tap fees and utility bills as the load comes on stream. This will be a very gradual demand as homes are slowly built.


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


You cannot get a building permit until there's water and sewer service at the curb.

When all those pipes are buried in the ground and lots are subdivided and people want to build houses, what's the City going to do? Refuse to allow taps? SB700 will have a valid complaint under the annexation agreement unless the potable water is in place.

The City will have to plan and budget for this capacity on a huge scale. We cannot predict the rate of building once it starts, and the alternative is to restrict taps, meaning that the law of supply and demand makes the lots with taps in place more valuable and prices go up. There's also the pledge to supply lots for "affordable" housing. Who gets water first if somebody has to wait for it before they can build?

So, my point is that you can't wait until the homes are built before you increase the water supply.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

Average water usage in the US is about 30 gallons per day per person (actual usage in SBS is about 20 gpdpc --- gallons per day per capita) and the planning level is about 80 gallons per day per person. These are not huge numbers.

Actual water usage in a place like SBS trends toward the lower end of every planning assumption because of the great number of vacation homes which have a dedicated nominal capacity but very little real usage.

While the total demand for a project of the size of "700" is meaningful, it is really not very much over a 15-25 year planning horizon.

While 2000 homes is a big number, it is not even a pimple on the butt of water supply issues. SBS has a population of approximately 10,000, 6,400 housing units, 4,100 households, 2,100 families and only about 26% of the families have children under the age of 18.

To see about 33% growth in the number of housing units over a 15-25 year period is not a very high growth rate. The SBS Water Supply Master Plan contemplates all of this growth and is quite clear in its conclusions that the water demand can be met easily.

What is good about a project like "700" is the ability to transport water to dedicated storage facilites using "time of day" metering and cost approaches to ensure that water is transported at the lowest possible volume at the cheapest times of the night.

This distribution model is comparatively inexpensive, very efficient and provides a significantly lower cost of maintenance and service interruption given its modular design.

Long story short --- water supply does not seem to be even a problem worth discussing especially given the current level of regional planning already evidenced in teh SBS Water Supply Master Plan.


cindy constantine 7 years, 3 months ago


Can you make the same argument for the waste water capacity?


steamboatbusiness 7 years, 3 months ago

One thing you guys are forgetting about the traffic issues.... There is no plan by the City to push millions into addressing the issue, and even if there may be a draft kicking around, what are they funding it with? When growth happens without Steamboat 700, it will go to outlying communities such as Hayden and Craig. This will increase traffic through that corridor, with no one having any ability to address it. These guys (S700) offer funding to address traffic which not only addresses their development but has the trickle down benefit to those already in Hayden and Craig who have to commute.

And as for growth, some people need to wake up a bit. I am tired of people who have been here less than 10 years saying that growth can't happen and shouldn't happen. You ARE growth! Most of the anti growth people represent growth to people who were here 20+ years ago. How do you feel about their right to tell you to piss off and go back to where you came from?

People of Steamboat, have faith in your elected leaders and qualified City staff and multitudes of professionals who have ALREADY APPROVED this annexation.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ cc ---

Wastewater planning is always an easier task than water supply because its capacity can literally be manufactured by building additional treatment capacity. The challenge with water is that you simply may not have enough.

Again, the addition of 2,000 homes is in the "wastewater package plant" range and is not a meaningful challenge from a capacity perspective.

I suspect that over the planning horizon associated with "700" new technologies alone --- such as the ability of El Paso, TX to treat wastewater sufficiently to potable water drinking standards --- will make the wastewater issue disappear. Completely. Absolutely.

In the next 20 years, the ability to quickly separate liquids and solids in the wastewater stream will literally create a source of "value" with the solids becoming compostible and the liquids being treated to drinking water standards to say nothing of irrigation or "gray" water reuseability.

Cities like Austin, TX already compost and sell as a gardening and fertilizer product --- 'Dillo Dirt --- composted sludge.

The days of treating wastewater and discharging it into natural watercourses are just about over.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

SteamboatBusiness, I see nothing to suggest that someone living in Craig or Hayden and working in SB could afford to live in SB 700. Maybe it is just me, but I don't know many families of 4 making nearly $200K a year that commute from Hayden or Craig.

Instead I see SB 700 competing more with Vail and other resort towns. So SB 700 will bring growth to SB that would have happened somewhere further away than Hayden or Craig.


Cedar Beauregard 7 years, 3 months ago

George where were you for the last 3 years???

Please come speak in the future.....


Cedar Beauregard 7 years, 3 months ago

All I'm saying is that I personally could have used your help.. Your concern about the bottleneck was not shared by many in the mix when I was pounding that point..

I'm glad you posted it here..


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


The last information published in the Pilot indicated that the cost of providing water infrastructure improvements was going to be $34,000,000.00.

"The $34 million cost of developing that service includes $5 million to buy the 1,000-acre site for a reservoir; $7.5 million to build the reservoir; $4.75 million to build a water treatment plant that initially would provide 2.5 mgd, and ultimately could provide 5 mgd; and other land, construction, legal and administrative costs."

So, uh, who's going to get stuck with the $34M up-front cost of providing all this in order to provide capacity for anticipated (but not guaranteed) growth?

If 2000 homes are actually built (combining SB700 and the other anticipated development) the per-unit tap fee would have to be around $17,000 to cover the cost.

If revenue from the new developments does not generate enough money to pay the necessary costs, plus interest on the bonds that will be required to finance it, then who is going to be stuck with the bill? Why, that would be the City of Steamboat Springs. And the taxpayers who support the City. And what does the City have to give up in order to make all this happen? Only the ability to fund other projects and infrastructure that might be required throughout the City.

Lots of people understand what the term "house poor" means. They have to give up a lot to make the payment on their house. Steamboat runs the risk of being "water poor" and having to give up a lot of other priorities for the sake of growth that at best is only going to make things more crowded, congested and inconvenient than they are now.

The affordable-and/or-attainable housing advocates want us to believe that SB700 is the answer to allowing working familes to have a home in the city limits. I really wish it was true. Even if the magical 480 homes for these people come to be, is it worth a $70,000+ per unit subsidy ($34,000,000 / 480) on the back of everybody else to make it happen?

I would like to believe that the SB700 developers are honest people with only our best interest at heart. In reality, I know they are in business to make money, and having the City pick up the tab for water means more money for them. There's nothing wrong with being in business to make money, but I think there's a lot wrong with people who blindly line up to drink the Kool-Aid without knowing the facts, and in this case, I blame everyone who was a proponent on the "consumer" side of the transaction for not having enough sense to get all the facts.

The people who are pushing for this thing to be done at such a great expense to the city are, at best, so lacking in sophistication (knowledge of the ways of the world) that they are incapable of understanding the financial impact on the city.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 3 months ago

95% of the affordable/attainable advocates I know are against 700.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

95% of the affordable/attainable advocates I know are against 700.

Which might be the best reason to approve it!?!


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ aic ---

The incremental water capacity plan you reference is targeted to supply ALL water needs west of SBS not just SBS 700.

If one assumed 2,000 homes @ 2.2 occupants per home at a daily use of 20 gpd (the SBS actual average), then SBS 700 only requires --- 2000 x 2.2 x 20 = 88,000 gpd.

This requirement of 88,000 gpd is only 3.5% of the incremental capacity quoted of 2.5 mgpd --- 88,000/2,500,000 = 3.5%.

If SBS uses 3.5% of the incremental capacity of 2.5 mgpd, then its financial burden is also 3.5% of the incremental $34,000,000 or $1,190,000 --- 0.035 x $34,000,000 = $1,190,000.

If one applied that cost to 2,000 homes, then the incremental cost per home would be approximately $595/home --- $1,190,000/2,000 = $595.

I suspect that a $595 tap fee might be OK, what do you think?

This municipal improvement is likely to be financed over a 20 year period at approximately 3% muni bond interest rate.

If one took the incremental cost of $595 per home and amortized it over the 20 year period at 3%, the annual cost would be $40/year for twenty years --- N = 20 yrs, P = $595, I = 3.0%, PMT = $39.99/year.

So while the long term water service plan west of SBS is, in fact, quite expensive the portion attributable to SBS 700 appears to be quite reasonable at $595/connection in principal and only $40/month if financed.

Hell, double it and you still have a very reasonable cost structure.


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


If you visit the building department website you'll find a worksheet for computing tap fees. Although your way makes sense logically, it's not the way that fees are actually computed.

Taps fees depend on the number of bedrooms, fixtures, washer, dishwasher, etc. Traditionally, waste treatment costs at least twice as much as potable water,

Also, it's the cost of supplying the water, not the usage, that drives the cost per household. When you pay your electric bill, you're paying for a lot more than the generation of the power you actually use. You are paying for maintenance, construction, administration, etc. It's the same for water.

Nice try, however.

So, I wonder why the SB700 folks have not come back with a detailed rebuttal on the same grounds. If it's that simple, and that cheap, why haven't we heard it before now?


pitpoodle 7 years, 3 months ago

For aichempty's comment I agree with your thesis. But could you tell me where in the agreement or other source it is stated that the city will borrow to put in needed water and wastewater infrastructure in advance of SB700 construction? This sounds like spending at the federal level that forces current and future generations of taxpayers to pay for out of control spending. Can you explain?


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ aic ---

I probably mischaracterized my analysis by calling it a "tap fee" as I was really just trying to divine the real prorated cost impact or "fair share" of the incremental capital cost for provision of water.

If tap fees are, in fact, higher then the City of SBS is simply covering its capital obligations with a coverage ratio which makes the payment of fees all that more attractive --- to the City.

The manner in which they determine tap fees is consistent with the methodology employed by many others but again I was focusing on the capital cost per home as a means of evaluating the wisdom of the project.

The fact that water supply expansion west of SBS is going to require the addition of incremental capacity and this is going to require SBS to spend capital dollars, seems pretty obvious to me whether SBS 700 gets built or not.

The math seems right to me and I have more than a little experience in actually building such infrastructure projects. I am however careful not to suggest that I "know it all" and this is why I laid out my math for all to see and take a poke at. I would certainly not be offended if my math was wrong and it would not be the first time.

Your statement on "supplying" v "usage" is pure gibberish. The capital cost is the cost of supplying the infrastructure while the operating cost is the cost of usage. I was focusing on the capital cost.

Who really cares what the usage cost is in the context of approving the project or not? The usage costs are going to be borne by the homeowners --- all homeowners --- and should not bear on the decision to build the project or not.

Wastewater is in fact more expensive on a unit measure basis however only a fraction of one's water usage translates into wastewater load.

Let me be clear --- water is diverted to drinking, cleaning, irrigation and all water does not end up in the wastewater system. In addition, any new home built should be capturing its rainfall and considering a gray water system to alleviate the demands exerted on the WW system.

The real issue on wastewater treatment these days is the level of treatment. El Paso is able to treat its effluent to potable water standards --- kind of a hard thing to swallow. LOL

I would be reluctant to drink directly from the El Paso WW plant. Nonetheless, it is chemically substantiated to be equal to or better than EP's potable water supply.

Austin, TX is able to compost its sludge to create a saleable product --- Dillo Dirt --- which has created an offsetting profit center for the wastewater treatment plant.

No reason why when spending capital these standards cannot be considered and evaluated.


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


The annexation agreement requires the City to provide potable water in a specified quantity, limited only by the overall availability of water to the system if the City is unable to comply with the requirement. For example, if the river dries up, the City is off the hook for the shortage.

The Annexation Agreement does not require the City to borrow money. However, the City does not have the money, and tax revenue is limited, so where else can they get the money except to borrow it? Federal grants would be a great alternative if they were available, of course.

So, it's like buying a house. If you agree to buy a house and you don't have cash, you have to borrow the money to complete the deal. While there's no explicit requirement for the City to borrow money, there is a requirement to furnish the water, so how else is it going to get done?


My independent estimate for the cost of potable water based on tap fees for 2000 homes was $20,000,000.00. The $34,000,000.00 figure came from a report that was quoted in the Pilot. Not being in a position to analyze the report, and not being a hydrologist or other professional with experience in these issues, I can only take it at face value and say that it's probably correct because the cost was higher than my non-comprehensive cost estimate based on projected tap fees for 2000 units based on an "average" 3 bedroom, 2 bath home.

Your "should be" contentions are nice and all that stuff, but they add cost and cost is the enemy of affordable housing.

The "who cares?" part is that approval of the annexation agreement is going to bind the city to an agreement to provide potable water in the near term so that development can proceed. This might not be a good time to jump into providing water and sewage services to vacant lots with no ready prospective buyers, no money to be lent for second homes, a surplus inventory of existing vacant homes and a local economy that's already in the tubes.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

The provision of water is ultimately only going to be made to homes which are actually built and sold and occupied. This is going to be a very low number in the current economy.

Vacant lots do not use very much water and wastewater, do they?

How many "spec" homes do you see being built before establishing any sales velocity at this project? 2? 5?

That is not very much water, sewer demand.


jk 7 years, 3 months ago

JLM, I don't think anyone is worried about the issue of how much water the houses out there will be using in the next 5 years, they are worried about the cost of the infrastructure that will have to be in place to supply those houses.The longer the build out takes the longer the city has to float the $34MM cost of the infrastructure. Or am I missing something here??


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ jk ---

A civil engineer designing a water treatment (the plant) or delivery system (the pipes, valves, storage) designs it, as much as possible, to be built in incremental units tracking the demand for the finished product.

The financiers designing the funding program issue and sell securities in accordance with the same schedule.

In this manner, the plant may be designed to be constructed in modules which are able to be built in anticipation of a growing demand and staying just ahead of that demand. Currently the SBS water treatment plant has enough capacity to meet its demands (including the initial portions of SB 700 and other identifiable projects) for some considerable period of time. They may not have to build any new capacity for some considerable portion of time and may only absorb the current excess capacity.

The infrastructure is built as the roads are developed in the subdivision itself. Before the roads are actually built the water supply and wastewater piping is installed under the roadbeds in phases consistent with the phases of housing development.

If the first phase of homes is to be 100 units, then the roads serving that much of the development are built and the water/wastewater piping is installed for only that portion.

The water system ends with a valve to which the next section of homes will be attached. The sewer system is ended with a manhole to which the next section of homes will be extended.

When municipal finance bonds or other infrastructure funding is authorized, the securities can be sold in tranches corresponding to the then current funding requirement. No more funds are accessed than then currently required to fund the construction of plant and infrastructure.

This is way that complex subdivisions and the attendant municipal services required to serve them have been built for decades.

The developers, builders, financiers and city service providers are smart folks typically with engineering degrees who know how to manage and fund complex projects in a manner to minimize the short term cash flow obligations of large, complex projects.

They only build and fund the portion they need as they need it. This is why complex projects like SB 700 should be planned and approved for a long, long time before the project is contemplated to be completed. Long term planning always is better than just winging it.

This is why SB 700 should be annexed.


greenwash 7 years, 3 months ago

From what I understand WWTP sludge and beetle kill wood is composted at Milner Landfill and is available for sale . FYI

SBS is one of the few places in this state and region that has plenty of water.BTW


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


You are absolutely right.


I am beginning to think you're being obtuse on purpose. How do you propose to "incrementally" purchase land for the reservoir, incrementally build the dam, etc. When you build a reservoir, don't you pretty much have to do it all at once? $5,000,000 of the $34,000,000 estimate is just to purchase the land that will end up underwater.

When the treatment plant is built, do you build it for 1/100th of the final demand, or 1/10th, or 1/2, or 90%, or what? Doesn't it make sense to you that once you've built the reservoir, you might as well build a treatment plant with capacity to stay ahead of the demand. And then if you do build incrementally, are you not duplicating facilites and equipment that will require more employees to run and maintain them? Isn't one "big" plant that will handle the whole required capacity going to be more economical to build and operate than 2, 3, 4 or 10 parallel facilities treating water out of that original big reservoir?

The capacity we're all talking about is the quantity that has to be available delivered to the border of the SB700 development, not the pipes the developers will place in the ground as streets are built. The City cannot economically build infrastructure on an as-needed basis, and water has to be available before building permits can be granted, so how do you plan to satisfy the requirement if you don't build capacity before it's required?


housepoor 7 years, 3 months ago

Why would anyone who owns property in Steamboat Springs vote for SB700? Prices are in a free fall, down anywhere between 30-50% and still falling. We have a declining population and workforce. I know these lots won't be developed for years to come but the fact that they will become developable will have a huge impact on property values putting any chance of a bottom years out.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ aic ---

There are several things --- the reservoir land which you rightly suggest --- which cannot be phased. The reservoir land has to be purchased, the reservoir built and, most importantly, the reservoir filled a few years before it is essential to the distribution plan. It could take several years for the reservoir to fill up depending upon precipitation.

The issue of capacity is really one of the seasonal output peak --- July & August --- wherein the demands on the water system are higher than the other months of the year. This is the most critical demand parameter which drives the implementation schedule.

Water consumption in SBS on a per capita basis is modestly declining --- as it is nationwide --- as individuals are more careful and the impact of rainwater irrigation and gray water systems are felt and xeriscaping, commercial water recycling and other conservation measures impact actual usage rates.

Much of the incremental supply will initially be met with conservation savings. The peculiar nature of vacation second home housing seasonal water demand also contributes to this challenge.

Any typical water treatment plant has about 20% of its capacity off line at any given time for scheduled, routine maintenance, renovation, cleaning, sterilization and excess capacity. Further during the lowest demand months, as much as 50-60% of the capacity is simply not needed because water demand is that low. There is nothing novel about the requirement to manage treatment capacity.

In planning the treatment protocol and methods for the new incremental capacity which may be required some time in the next 10 years, we don't know today what that system will be as the technology is continuing to develop.

We have excess capacity today --- remember we are really talking about July & August as the controlling demand --- so it is highly likely that that excess capacity plus conservation gains will initially be tapped to provide new service and that any expansion which incorporates newer technology will subsume some of the existing treatment capacity. This can be effectively be done by diverting maintenance expenditures to capital expenditures by retiring older treatment processes and building more, higher rate, more effective treatment systems.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

(continued, sorry)

The plant itself will, in fact, be expanded in logical modules which will allow for maintenance (the entire plant cannot be allowed to go down for routine maintenance). Treatment plants are typically built to increase just the peak capacity initially because the existing plant has no problem serving the balance of the year.

The expansion of the plant may in fact lag the development of the first homes in western SBS by a number of years. The first 2-300 homes is simply not a daunting demand. And, again, the real issue is July and August.

I would suspect that a 5mgd expansion would be built in 3-4 identical modules in two phases. Given likely treatment improvements, it would also not be a surprise if some of the existing treatment plant was simply abandoned to take advantage of the better treatment technology.

The distribution system is simply a "you pass the houses being built" construction challenge. Since this is pressure piping, you install valves to facilitate breaking the system into bite sized chunks. Redundancy is built into the system by installing more smaller pipes to ensure the entire distribution system does not go down because of one pipe break. This also provides phasing opportunities.

I hope that is not too obtuse.


aichempty 7 years, 3 months ago


It's a very logical and well-thought-out discussion of the facts.

Here's another fact.

The Annexation Agreement requires the City to provide a quantity of potable water. SB700 needs that guarantee to sell lots for development, build the promised retail center and school, etc.

It's not about usage and seasons. It's about the legal agreement to provide a quantity of potable water. They are two entirely different things.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ aic ---

Sure the legal agreement drives the entire deal. An annexation at the end of the day is a legal agreement which outlines the resposibilities of each party and which ultimately results in a land mass becoming part of a municipality subject to that municipality's laws and rules.

When the developers come in to obtain final site plan, zoning and subdivision approval, a building permit and begin construction, then the City of SBS will have to meet its end of the deal. This does not happen overnight.

The developers will build the roads, scrape in the surface drainage, install the water and wastewater services which are constructed under the roads and the City of SBS will keep its end of the deal by constructing the infrastructure necessary to bring the water service to the site.

Initially this is likely to be accomplished by using existing excess capacity rather than building new capacity immediately.

As home sales accelerate (whenever the hell that happens), then the City of SBS will have to coordinate the sale of bonds to finance the improvements and actually build the improvements at a rate to stay ahead of the demand. Remember we are talking about a critical two month period --- July and August. If somebody should fail to get their work done on time then you will likely have a bit of city wide water rationing (no lawn sprinklers, car washes, etc.) for that two month period.

This will ultimatey be like a big ballet with the developer, the contractors, the homebuilders, the homebuyers, the infrastucture financiers and builders, the City of SBS all playing their well orchestrated roles. It will be a thing of beauty.

While this is a big undertaking for the City of SBS, it would not be a remarkable happening for a big city like Denver.


aichempty 7 years, 2 months ago

I can see it now.

SB700's attorney walks into City Hall and says, "uh, what about our water?"

Civil servant in charge of water says, "huh? We need $5,000,000 to buy land for the reservoir. After that, we'll need about a year to let out bids, select a contractor, and construct the reservoir. Then we can build a plant to treat the water. Give us about three years, okay?"

Next day: Process server drops off a Summons and Complaint seeking an order from the Court for Steamboat Springs to honor its contract with SB700. Judge says, "Okay. You've got a contract, after all."

And so it begins.

If I was getting ready to hire Fred Duckels to put in roads, water and sewer pipes, I'd be dadgum sure that the water was there at the property line ready to be connected and supply the necessary water. Otherwise, I'd be at risk for money spent on stuff that could not be used. Money is a lot more useful in the bank, or invested somewhere, than it is tied up in buried pipes not connected to the water and waste treatment facilities required to get a building permit to begin construction on a home.


JLM 7 years, 2 months ago

Boy that is some pretty lame grasping @ straws. Grow up and fight fair.

City Hall will be routinely coordinating with SB 700 and will have ample warning in the form of site plan, subdivision, zoning, building permit approvals, tap fee applications, inspections, intermediate approvals and other routine regulatory contacts.

This project is not going to be happening in a vacuum. I doubt anybody will be surprised when housing and infrastructure construction is scheduled, coordinated and undertaken.

The SB 700 sponsors will communicate often w/ City Hall to ensure that their end of the project is on track.

That is the way these things are routiney done. No sweat.


aichempty 7 years, 2 months ago

The Annexation Agreement legally binds the City to perform.

It's going to take money.

You are asking us all to assume that it's going to be "okay" and not to worry about it.

You're asking us to trust the City government to take care of the details.

Good luck with that.


cindy constantine 7 years, 2 months ago

check out the new website for counterpoints to the developers advertisements.


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