Look for more in-depth coverage, including new images of the planned Walgreens, in the Real Estate section of Sunday’s Steamboat Pilot & Today and at www.steamboathomefinder.com on Sunday.
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to table plans for a new 16,450-square-foot Walgreens store until Jan. 27 so the applicants can have more time to address questions about the project.
That would leave just three working days for members of the Steamboat Springs City Council to digest the changes before their Feb. 1 date with applicant Brian Olson for a meeting that could determine the fate of the project.
Olson came close to telling the Planning Commission he would regretfully prefer a vote to deny his project Thursday night over a tabling motion so he could go straight to the City Council for an override.
“I have a contract with Walgreens that requires me to deliver a building by Halloween,” Olson said. “We need to keep that date with City Council.”
The Planning Commission agreed with senior City Planner Bob Keenan that the applicants need to do more to justify their request for 11 variances from the Community Development Code and Urban Design guidelines before city officials have sufficient information to make a decision. Olson agreed to try to meet their wishes.
When Olson and architect Eric Smith come back to the commission in two weeks, they’ll be expected to give more details about how they can meet landscaping standards in the U.S. Highway 40 right-of-way.
The developers also will be asked to quantify the public benefit their project would provide in economic terms to justify their requested variances from the code. The commissioners want Olson to put dollar figures on the economic impact a Walgreens store could provide in terms of employment and sales-tax revenues. They also want to know the dollar value of public street and transit improvements of a proposed transit stop and traffic roundabout the developers plan to build on Pine Grove Road west of U.S. 40.
However, the strongest comments from the commissioners related to their disappointment that the least attractive side of the new building, where the loading dock and trash facility would be located, is planned to face U.S. 40.
“Ninety percent of the public’s reaction to this building is going to be how it looks from Highway 40,” Commissioner Troy Brookshire said. “I want to see something besides blank walls and sterile brick from the highway.”
The commissioners heard almost an hour of public comments, most of them in favor of approving the Walgreens store. Retired banker Paul Berge told the commission the drive-through pharmacy window of a Walgreens store would benefit many, including mothers with sick children in car seats.
“I really endorse the concept of the drive-through,” Berge said. “It provides a significant convenience for people who may be able to drive but have a disability. Parking and walking into the store in this climate is a real inconvenience and, in some respects, somewhat of a danger for many.”