Steamboat Springs Planning Commission to examine development process


Past Event

Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting

  • Thursday, October 27, 2011, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free


— The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission hopes to engage the public Thursday when it hosts a work session on tentative plans to increase the number of developments that can be approved administratively.

“This is just a discussion,” city of Steamboat Springs senior planner Bob Keenan said Tuesday. “We’re not proposing an ordinance at this point.”

The intent is to streamline the public approval process for developers whose projects fit the Steamboat Springs Community Development Code as submitted, he said.

The Steamboat Springs development code allows projects like vacation home rentals, establishment of a nightclub, creation of duplex homes, home occupations and outdoor dining areas to be approved administratively. Rather than going to Planning Commission and City Council for public hearings, they are reviewed by staff, and Planning Director Tyler Gibbs would make the final decision.

Thursday’s discussion will explore whether some additional commercial or multifamily projects that are deemed by planning staff to fit the Community Development Code and whose developers are not seeking variances to the code could be approved administratively, Keenan said.

The discussion also will expand to question whether variances to water-body setback requirements that regulate how close buildings may come to streams could be handled administratively.

“The idea is that we’ve got these regulations, and if the project meets them, we’ve essentially already made the decision,” Keenan said. As a safeguard to the public interest, city council members, planning commissioners and potentially the planning director would have the power to call a final development permit application up to full public hearings, Keenan said.

Another aspect of the conversation will be whether to boost the size of multitenant commercial buildings (but not single-tenant buildings) that can be considered administratively to more than the current limit of 16,000 square feet.

Keenan said planning staff is recommending that buildings of any size be eligible for administrative approval (assuming they don’t need variances) as long as they would not create a single-tenant commercial space greater than 12,000 feet.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

“We’ve got these regulations, and if the project meets them, we’ve essentially already made the decision…” Wrong answer!!

In my time as planning commissioner, staff’s judgment on "meets them" was reversed by planning commission 20% of the time.


Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Today, a 16,000 sq ft commercial building can be approved by Mr. Gibbs without public review? When did that become ordinance?

During my 3 years on planning commission, administratively approved items were virtually invisible. How would a planning commissioner know to "call up" any of these? Without "notice of a hearing" how will the public ever see what Mr. Gibbs is up to with this expanding power?

I don't like the level to which the City is greasing the development process. Who do City staff think they work for?


1999 5 years, 6 months ago

good way!!!!

who does city staff think they work for????

truly unbelievable


Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

The PC packet:

The chart shows the proposed new "uses by right" changes of what are now "conditional uses". In other words, the question of a hostel or gas station proposed in a certain zone district would go from,

"Maybe, and if our representatives on PC and CC agree it is appropriate on that site please do it with these conditions"


"Yes, its your right put a hostel anywhere in that district."

Across 15 zone types there are 29 of these new uses by right. The uses include timeshares, hostels, gas stations, car washes, medical offices, drive thru restaurants, and nursing homes. Its not so much that the bulk of the proposed new uses by right are outlandish and wrong for their zone districts. The point is "outlandish" or "wrong" is often a contrast available only from a site by site review. That's why we have conditional uses!

Taken together, these 29 new "rights" represent a fundamental pro-development shift from our current zoning. And a fundamentally diminished concern for the interests of existing inhabitants of these districts.


sledneck 5 years, 6 months ago

If projects meet pre-ordained regulations then projects should go through without a bunch of BS. This is a very basic tennant of representative governments ideal of "A nation of laws, not a nation of men". Requiring each and every project to wade through arbitrary and dissimilar processes invites corruption, burdens developers, adds financial burdens to real estate purchasers, tennants, commercial customers and the general public, and unnecessarily instills the air of favoritism. Write down the rules, whatever they may be, and play by them. If 5th graders on the playground can do that why can't city hall?


John Fielding 5 years, 6 months ago

. If a project meets the regulations it should not have to be reviewed and "permitted" at all. The trouble is there are so many regulations it is very difficult to assure one is fully in conformance. Even the interpretations of the compliance with regulations receive different results between different staffers, between staff and PC, PC and CC, and even different interpretations by the same staffer. It is like the old saw "get two Rabbis together and you will have three different opinions."

Another fundamental problem is that much of the CDC is only enforced on a complaint basis, truly a discriminatory policy, possibly illegal, certainly unfair. Most small enterprises would be better off not applying for permission do do something that seems reasonable in their neighborhoods and hope no one complains. Unfortunately, many have the busybody neighbor who will complain just to make trouble.

Finally, the policy revisions should not be made by the regulators,but by those who actually feel the burden, would you invite the fox to "audit the procedures" for chicken coop security? That is why I have made revision of the CDC my highest priority in my campaign for City Council, proposing to empanel a commission of local business owners and actively solicit input from all others for examples of how restrictive regulations have prevented their initiating or expanding businesses or conducting reasonable activities at their residences.

Our community development code is way overdone, time for some substantial rollbacks. .


Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

John Fielding, We have a set of uses, such as car washes, which we decided are possibly a good fit next to your and 3 other professional offices, a "use by right", but we called the car washes "conditional uses" to allow a review about that. You are arguing we should toss out the review and put in the car wash?


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