John Whittum: Faulty TDR


While Routt County is seeking input to formulate an improved plan for the Transfer of Development Rights, it should begin by considering public concerns about the sprawling territory it has already mapped out for such transfers, and the obvious inadequacies of the regulations.

The currently designated land for much denser development (the so-called “receiving areas” in the TDR plan) near Steamboat Springs extends more than two miles up Elk River Road. Landowners from within city limits and out to and including the 1,000-plus acre Wheeler Ranch on the side of Copper Ridge could apply for 5-acre lot subdivisions. Some estimates of potential development on that ranch exceed 200 different parcels. Yet, the county master plan calls for new growth areas to be close to, or within, the city’s urban growth boundary. Why should a sprawling suburban development now be allowed in an area that is still quite rural?

The same example also demonstrates the flawed character of the proposed regulations. Landowners in remote parts of the county (“sending areas”) where potential development is almost nonexistent could apply to sell their development rights (a 7,000-acre ranch is potentially divisible into 200 35-acre lots) to the present owners of the old Wheeler place. By such a trade, agricultural land might be “preserved” in Northwest Routt or near the Wyoming border where there is no significant chance of development, but the Steamboat community could then acquire a massive suburb two miles from town. Why try to “save” unthreatened agricultural land at the cost of a poorly located suburban development?

That scenario could become a reality under the present proposal. Is that really good planning?

John Whittum

Steamboat Springs


housepoor 6 years, 7 months ago

You are right John. They are still operating under the assumption that these lands are under development pressure, they are not and won't be for a long time!!


Scott Wedel 6 years, 7 months ago

It is even worse than Mr Whittum describes.

To the extent that someday there is some demand for development near the Wyoming border or other "sending" areas of Routt County, the transfer of rights from one ranch does nothing to stop the neighboring ranch from developing. The transfer of rights does nothing to diminish whatever pressure to develop land in that region of the county. It may even increase the pressure near the "preserved" parcel because now the neighboring properties can promote that they are next to deeded open space. The only way this scheme can work is if EVERY property in the "sending" area transfers their development rights and so those regions are protected from development and that is never going to happen.

If the County feels the need to find a way to give additional development rights to property owners adjacent to SB then quit talking about development rights and start talking about public access and other specific and useful public amenities. For instance, there are all sorts of spots along county roads that would make excellent small campgrounds. So a trade for additional developments rights in which we get a few dozen campsites and trail access can be argued to have a clear public benefit. That'd be a far better trade for development rights that are either never going to happen or will happen on property near the "preserved" property.


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