Walgreens decision tonight at Steamboat City Council meeting

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

  • Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available

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Agenda highlights

All times after 5 p.m. are estimates and subject to change

■ 5 p.m. Meeting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority

■ 5:05 p.m. Convene as City Council; discussion of potential voluntary closure of off-leash dog park at Rita Valentine Park for remainder of winter; motion to approve the contract of Wendy DuBord as interim city manager while City Manager Jon Roberts continues his recovery from a ski accident; motion to approve a $75,000 grant from the community housing fund to help Habitat for Humanity purchase land in the Riverside neighborhood for a duplex; second reading of an ordinance that would approve land management agreement between the city and Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park group.

■ 7 p.m. Public comment; public hearing of two appeals by developers seeking to build a Walgreens at U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road, after Steamboat Springs Planning Commission recommended denial of the project Thursday

— A lengthy public debate about whether to allow a Walgreens in Steamboat Spr­­ings is expected to be decided tonight by the City Council.

The Steamboat Springs City Council will address what essentially is a last attempt by developer Brian Olson to get approval for a building he hopes to break ground on this year, but which has drawn recommendations for denial from city planning staff and the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission voted against the store’s proposed site layout and development plans Thursday in two 4-2 votes that reflected the numerous variances requested by developers and, primarily, the plan to have a loading dock, trash facilities and a drive-through window on the side of the building facing U.S. Highway 40. That building orientation is against the city’s urban design standards and one of 11 variances requested by the developers.

“It’s a lot of variances that they’re looking for — certainly more than most successful applicants come through with,” Councilman Jon Quinn said.

Olson tonight is appealing the Planning Commission’s two votes against the project. If City Council overturn those votes, the Walgreens project could move forward. If City Council uphold the votes, Olson would have to either wait one year before re-entering the planning process or could come back sooner with a project that is substantially different than the current proposal.

City planner Jason Peasley said Monday that there is no specific threshold in city codes for what a “substantial” difference entails. Olson, though, indicated that revisions or continuing the project after a delay are unlikely scenarios.

“We feel like we’ve done all we can,” Olson said. “The reality is that everybody has their requirements, including the city, and we try to work within those parameters to make it be a win-win.”

Quinn said Sunday that he remained undecided about his vote tonight after reading through Planning Com­mission’s ruling and other materials.

“I kept swaying back and forth between being sympathetic to the applicant and supporting Planning Commission’s final decision,” Quinn said.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski also declined to predict her vote.

“I think it stands a chance (of approval),” she said Monday. “I think from reading the minutes, there was a lot of public comments in support.”

She noted, however, that City Council members were receiving a lot of e-mails Monday from residents opposed to the Walgreens proposal.

Hermacinski said concerns about variances and the building’s orientation are offset in her mind, at least somewhat, by developers’ efforts at landscaping and building design.

“I understand that it’s a gateway (to the city) … but at least from an architectural rendering, it looks like a pretty good job,” she said.

Quinn noted that there will be no easy answer tonight and he’ll likely upset some of his constituents, no matter what he decides.

“It’s one of those (votes) that I look forward to losing, either way,” he joked.

Also tonight, in the meeting’s first agenda item, City Council is scheduled to discuss whether to ask residents to voluntarily stop using Rita Valentine Park as an off-leash dog park for the rest of winter, after an elk herd near the park caused concerns from area residents.

Comments

greenwash 3 years, 10 months ago

Habitat for Humanity is going to purchase a lot that was a pond filled last year with 4 feet of dirt???.....Hope they plan on spending plenty on engineering for a foundation or a floating house. I wonder if they really did their homework ??.$75 K for a lot owned by a realtor .....Sounds fishy fishy to me.

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Chad Fleischer 3 years, 10 months ago

What about the gateway on the West side of town that is a complete disaster that we do not hold anyone accountable for in the past? Remember the folks who fly into town and form their first impressions of Steamboat have to come through the other way from the airport. The people who are destination skiers and may not return for years and years. If people only think of our town by the looks of a Walgreens I think we have all managed to miss the entire purpose of a resort town experience. If you want to stave off growth and chain stores and what is good for the people of this valley all together lets do the following: 1. Not market to tourists 2. Prevent realtors from advertising 3. enact even stricter design standards on developers and one off home builders as well 4. increase tap fees to the tune of quadruple or triple tap fees Etc, etc, etc Lets face it. This is not about the variances and the looks of a Walgreens this is about politics and trying to protect those that do not want a competing business in this town. I love Lyon drug and will continue to go there because of what City Market, Safeway and Wal Mart cannot provide but there is a lot that a Walgreens can and will do on a empty corner that needs a store front and a town that needs a pharmacy and people who need work. The fact that we are even having this discussion given the current economic environment is comical. Planning commission needs to get with the times and understand their job is to promote growth and sustainability in this community and not get hung up on a loading dock or trash details.
Drive around and you will see half of all places in town that are non conforming that no one ever enforces what they must/should be doing anyway. Lets discuss where the developer has gone above and beyond what is necessary to get the development done.
Lets bring up the actual stats of the amount of building permits issued for sites within the City of Steamboat, lets talk about the mass exodus of construction workers in Steamboat over the past two years, lets discuss the jobs lost at the local lumber yards and hardware stores. Wake up Steamboat people because we need this and it is good for the community and jobs. Did Staples ruin us? Not even close. I think we can handle a Walgreens.

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cindy constantine 3 years, 10 months ago

Thanks, Chad-- I am with you on this one. While Council is so busy listening to business owners whine about how their businesses will be affected, they forget that the residents in town are struggling financially. Competition is healthy in any economy--especially a down economy. Consumers need to "comparison" shop and are more likely to keep sales taxes in the valley that would otherwise have "bled out" if competition exists.That corner is especially ugly and a developer/chain store is willing to take a risk in our community and this uncertain time. They should be applauded. Bring it on!!

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cindy constantine 3 years, 10 months ago

Also wanted to point out that SBS is the shopping choice for a LARGE geographical area--mainly because of the medical facilities which bring in families from as far away as Maybell on the west to Kremmling/Walden to the east. Having a Walgreens is just one more choice for those far away shoppers to consider before going to Silverthorne or Denver

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pitpoodle 3 years, 10 months ago

Planning commission's job is to not to promote growth and sustainability in this community. Its job is to plan for the future of this community. Like it or not, we are a destination resort community. There is huge competition for tourist dollars and when we change our brand from small western town to anytown USA we are pushing away any chance of continuing to draw the tourists we need to maintain our economy. It is a false argument when you say we will keep more sales tax dollars here if we bring in the big chains instead of relying on the establishments of local merchants. Our future should not depend on the promotion of big chain stores where sales tax dollars go out of the area nearly immediately. As for jobs, it is foolish to think that the few low paying jobs from Walgreens will boost our economy in any way. The only thing it will do is dilute the amount of dollars spent between local businesses and big box stores. I am appalled that you want to be a Silverthorne type town instead of a Steamboat Springs. Your arguments are false and short-sighted.

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Mike Heineke 3 years, 10 months ago

Good luck tonight Brian. I do hope that the planning commission approves what Walgreens has put before them. There is always room for competition and growth. I would still shop Lyons myself because it's closer to my home. It's a shame that this is such an issue with so many folks, after all, if it wasn't for Safeway I would have to go out of town to buy my groceries. I can't understand the language spoken by most front end people at City Market. Thank God there are two grocery stores in town!

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Neil O'Keeffe 3 years, 10 months ago

I couldn't agree with pitpoodle more. Hit the nail on the head, planning commission's job is not to promote growth and tax dollars certainly will not leave the valley if Walgreen's is not here, we already have 4 pharmacies and a fifth will only be exchanging tax dollars. All the lost construction jobs will not be replaced by a few low paying jobs at Walgreen's. I am not against big box if it makes sense for the community, Like them or not, Walmart, Staples and Sports Authority do keep sales tax dollars here. Yes it would be nice to have something in place of that empty lot that compliments the area. But how about a business that we do not already have (four of) that would actually capture leaking sales tax revenue. Growth for the sake of growth puts us right back into the Steamboat 700 scenario and we all know how that ended up?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 10 months ago

I suggest their either the development code matters and they are asking for too many variances.

Or the development code is too onerous and the sections of the code that require Walgreens to get variances should be repealed.

Thus, it should either be rejected or accepted and chunks of the code repealed. It would make no sense to accept it and retain those sections of development code.

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Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 10 months ago

"their either" Did you mean "that either?"

Regardless, I agree that if the code cannot be enforced consistently, and variances become the rule rather than the exception, it's time to amend the code.

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pitpoodle 3 years, 10 months ago

When my building went up, I was allowed no variances and was told in advance that there would be none approved. Walgreens is not more special than citizens who do follow the rules. Brian Olson can either follow the code or don't build.

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exduffer 3 years, 10 months ago

If we have a Florida federal judge moment and the city approves this does this mean we should throw the whole developement code out?

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George Hresko 3 years, 10 months ago

There are several common threads running through the Walgreens, YVHA and Monday's City Council meeting--some explicitly stated in these blogs and others referenced or questioned rhetorically. Several have stated that these issues and the decisions required need to be made in the context of the community character and values. I agree, and would direct anyone interested to the Vision 2030 Final Report for an extensive discussion of those values which the community at large desires to be stewarded for the future. I would note that these have been consistent over a period of many years. The problem arises when these efforts at describing community character and values are not carried into explicit long range plans by those elected to govern and their commissions. If our elected officials cannot answer the question: What does the community desire to be preserved, or the question: What if lost will cause irreparable harm to the character and values, then those elected are not aligned with the community, and is evidence of a lack of a long term plan for our town. (to be continued)

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George Hresko 3 years, 10 months ago

In the YVHA blog, Steve Lewis asked, I believe rhetorically but on the chance that it was not a rhetorical questiion, what was the commonality across several different community supported activities, including YVHA. I would suggest that the common thread is that each were started as single activities without a context or framework for where they would take the community over a long number of years. In other words they were one-off incremental decisions. For example, in support of Walgreens an earlier commenter mentioned that we weathered Staples, so Walgreens should not be a problem. And Mr. Quinn, in the YVHA blog argued that the proposed tax would be a relatively small incremental amount for each taxpayer. That is, incremental decisions without context.. Incremental decisions may well be appropriate at times, but only within the terms of an explicit plan. We all know about the straw that breaks the camel's back. And, almost all plan failures can be traced back to very small departures from the agreed upon path. (to be continued)

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George Hresko 3 years, 10 months ago

So, I would argue, we need to start the hard work of translating the previous visioning exercises into explicit long term plans for Steamboat Springs; plans which will provide an adequate framework and context for making decisions such as that with respect to Walgreens, the YVHA and community economic development. It is the responsibility of our elected representatives to see that such plans are developed and adhered to. There is a huge temptation on their part, I realize, to make one-off decisions, to grease the squeaking wheel. If we continue to do this, and continue to be unwilling to creeate an explicit long-term plan, then one day, down the road, folks are going to be asking what happened to the values and community character of Steamboat Springs, who decided that it should have changed? I submit it's preferable to have a plan with which all may not agree, than to have no plan other than incremental decison-making.

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pitpoodle 3 years, 10 months ago

George, you are so right. When council is pressured and votes solely to please the development community, we get into trouble. That's just what happened with regard to SB 700. As I recall, the developers worked with staff to make changes in the "community plan" so that their project would conform (instead of the other way around). Planning and council have repeatedly voted to make sure the size of commercial development stayed within guidelines so as not to allow big box venues, but now with pressure from developer Olson, they could greatly increase the size of the building to accommodate the big box that is Walgreens. Look to Steamboat's future with this precedent setting approval and you will see all sorts of big box structures that will change the face of our community and ruin its character. As I have said we will go from unique to mediocre. We should not be put in the position of saving yet another developer from himself (that is his bad decisions and judgment). As I recall, his first "deal" was to move the post office to this difficult location.

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