City Council discusses Steamboat 700 housing plan

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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).

— City officials expressed differing opinions Tuesday night about the housing attainability plan for the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation.

The Steamboat Springs City Council reviewed the attainability program during a meeting that was dominated by philosophical housing discussions but included little concrete action.

Local attorney Bob Weiss, representing Steamboat 700, presented an outline of the proposed annexation’s housing attainability plan. The plan stipulates that 30 percent of homes at Steamboat 700 — not including an estimated 400 deed-restricted, affordable homes that would be built on 15 acres granted to the city — would initially be marketed to buyers or households earning 120 to 200 percent of the area median income. That marketing would occur for one year from the first offering of a home.

Councilwoman Meg Bentley asked Weiss whether that marketing would begin before or after a home was built.

“Some will be pre-sales, some after they’re built,” Weiss said. “If you don’t have pre-sale, you can’t finance” other development.

Resident Steve Lewis raised the point that limiting pre-sales could help local working-class buyers purchase attainable homes at Steamboat 700, reasoning that pre-sale buyers likely are more wealthy — and potentially out-of-state, second-home buyers — and can afford to wait.

Steamboat 700 proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space on a 487-acre site just west of the current city limits. City planning documents cite a 20- to 30-year timeframe for development.

City residents will decide the fate of the annexation in a mail-only vote that concludes March 9. Ballots will be sent to registered voters from Feb. 15 to 19.

Councilman Jim Engelken asked for a more detailed attainability plan that would be presented to residents before the vote, a sentiment echoed by resident Catherine Carson.

“Due diligence to our citizens would be to have this attainability agreement written before the election,” Carson said.

Tom Leeson, director of the city’s Planning and Comm­un­ity Development Dep­a­rtment, said it could be counter-productive to finalize details of a market-driven housing program several years before development could occur at the annexation, should it win voter approval.

“The first final plat could well be three years out,” Leeson said. “A lot could change between now and then.”

Council members Jon Quinn and Scott Myller said Tuesday that they support the status of the attainability program, which the City Council must approve before development occurs at an annexed Steamboat 700.

“I’m very satisfied with the direction we’re going in,” Quinn said.

Also Tuesday, the City Council tabled a review of the development plan for Ski Time Square until Feb. 2, after Mark Mathews, of developers The Atira Group, said Atira “wanted more full representation on council” for its presentation. City Council President Cari Hermacinski was absent Tuesday night and Quinn stepped down from the discussion, leaving only five council members to vote on the tabling. A potential conflict of interest for Councilman Kenny Reisman, who owns a condominium at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, also will be discussed Feb. 2. Engelken voted against tabling the review of Atira’s plans for Ski Time Square.

The City Council also voted to put the Iron Horse Inn on ice for a year, agreeing unanimously to postpone redevelopment plans, use money from the $1 million fund for those redevelopments to instead pay an estimated $343,000 in debt service for 2010, and revisit the issue in a year.

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