Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. A quote by Wendy Lyon was incorrectly attributed to someone else in the first published version of the story.
The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted, 4-2, on Thursday night to recommend denial of plans for a new U.S. Highway 40 building intended to house a Walgreens store.
The majority of commissioners said they could not accept plans that called for the store’s loading dock and enclosed Dumpster to be located on the east side of the building close to U.S. 40.
Steamboat developer Brian Olson, who would develop the building and lease it to Walgreens, quickly confirmed that he intended to appeal the decision to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night.
Commissioner Richard Levy, who made the motion to deny, said he wasn’t buying the argument that Olson and Walgreens couldn’t have relocated the service facilities planned to face the busy intersection of U.S. 40 and Pine Grove Road to another side of the building where they would have less visual impact.
“The service area should be an easy fix,” Levy said. “It seems like the applicant is coming in here and saying this is the way we do things and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Levy was joined in voting to deny by Commission Chairman Jason Lacy and Commissioners Brian Hanlen and Jennifer Robbins.
Lacy said there were too many conflicts between the project as designed and the requirements of the community development code and written standards for the entry corridor.
Vice Chairwoman Kathi Meyer and Commissioner Troy Brookshire opposed the motion to deny. Commissioners Cedar Beauregard and Cynthia Slavik stepped down, Beauregard because his brother has worked for Olson and Slavik because she did not think she had taken part in enough of the public hearings on the matter to make an informed decision.
Olson showed the commissioners research by local consultant Scott Ford indicating that a Walgreens in a market similar to Steamboat/Routt County could expect annual sales of $5 million, of which 15 to 25 percent would be new sales to the market. At 25 percent, or $1.25 million in new business, Walgreens could be expected to generate $12,500 in annual county sales tax revenues and $50,000 in city sales tax revenues, Ford wrote.
Wendy Lyon, a co-owner of Lyon Drug Store in downtown Steamboat, challenged Ford’s numbers.
“I assume a good part of (the $5 million) is prescription drug sales,” Lyon said. “Prescription medicines are not taxable. A majority of the other items (carried by Walgreens) are already in this town. I believe they are here to take a piece of pie as opposed to making the pie larger.”
Brookshire said that although he hoped Steamboat residents would remain loyal to local independent business Lyons, it was not his job to make a determination on the desirability of the business that would occupy Olson’s building.
“I’m concerned this may harm Lyon Drug. I worry about that,” Brookshire said. “I hope the community will stick with loyal businesses. But I think it’s time for something to happen at that intersection. It’s going to be a good-looking building that will add to that commercial activity node and create energy at that intersection.”