Landmark North Routt business gets permit revision from Routt County

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a revised permit to allow the many business activities hosted by the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse across from Steamboat Lake State Park about 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs.

Tuesday’s vote came at the end of a nearly three-hour public hearing, Planning Director Chad Phillips said.

Roadhouse owners Carroll and Darren Zamzow have been in the planning process since late summer 2012. The need to update their permit, called a PUD, came up when neighbors in a nearby rural subdivision complained last year about the noise created by live bands performing deep into the evening.

Commissioner Steve Ivancie said Wednesday that he was satisfied the Zamzows have demonstrated they can host live music indoors with the windows and doors closed without disturbing their neighbors. And the commissioners stipulated that any outdoor music must be un-amplified string and woodwind music — no drums and no horn sections.

"We agreed we want the ... Roadhouse to be successful, and so do their neighbors,” Ivancie said. “I think we did a good job of compromising all around.

Ironically, it wasn’t live music that concerned county officials and some of their neighbors this week as much as the possibility that contaminants from pastured horses on the property could run off and find their way into their well water.

The Zamzows purchased the former Steamboat Lake Outfitters near Steamboat Lake State Park in December 2011 and continued existing operations, including snowmobile tours and cabin rentals as well as operation of a restaurant and a convenience store with gas pumps. But they sought to solidify their horseback riding business by permanently basing saddle horses in a small pasture of less than 2 acres and parking for a few campers. Ultimately, they plan to build a covered pavilion to host group picnics outdoors. They also will create parking for as many as 50 vehicles.

Ivancie said he and his fellow commissioners stopped short of approving a pavilion with a permanent roof, instead, asking the Zamzows to settle for a tent or membrane roof.

Phillips explained that unlike some other guest ranches and restaurants outside municipalities in the county, the Zamzows' PUD permit originally was designed to limit the recreational and business activities they can host. The purpose was to protect the surrounding neighborhoods, he said. Phillips has told the Steamboat Today that he pointed out the limitations on their county permit soon after they purchased the business.

Darren Zamzow told the Routt County Planning Commission on May 16 that in order to keep the business running, he and his wife are trying to identify many revenue sources while preserving the Western heritage of the site and meeting the needs of the neighbors and the community.

In the revised plan for the Roadhouse that includes keeping as many as 14 horses in a small pasture to be ready for customers interested in a trail ride. In addition, the Zamzows want to be able to host horses brought to the Roadhouse by their guests to enjoy during a stay in the Roadhouse’s guest cabins.

Neighbor Mike Weber, a resident of nearby Larkspur Lane, said the Zamzows have done a great job of mitigating the noise from live bands since last fall. However, Weber expressed concern with overgrazing of the pastures and the degradation of the open space. Weber also worried that runoff from the horse pasture and the manure that would accumulate there might find its way into some nearby springs that are relied on for drinking water.

Greg Murray a resident of the Parkside subdivision had similar concerns that contaminants from the relatively small enclosure for the horses might find their way into his his water infiltration gallery that supplies his home as well as some nearby wells.

Phillips said the county commissioners discussed the horse operation in detail and decided to limit the number of guest horses on the property to no more than six for stays of no longer than seven days.

The Zamzows could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Phillips said he thinks the Zamzows can contain any runoff from the pasture and protect local water supplies, and Ivancie agreed.

“It can be done if it’s managed properly,” he said.

Ivancie said that after discussing the impact of the small pasture to the neighbors and the horses, he was persuaded the Zamzows understand what needs to be done.

“They’re going to work with us,” he said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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