Steamboat developer prefers denial of community housing plan to other options

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— Jon Peddie acknowledges that the community housing plan he has presented to the city of Steamboat Springs for his Emerald Heights townhome project doesn’t meet the current code.

The issue of the code’s efficacy and applicability to today’s real estate market has been raised previously, and Peddie considers a review of the city code as right and forthcoming.

But, the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission evaluates the code as it is currently written, not as it might be amended in the future.

On Thursday night, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of Emerald Heights’ community housing plan to City Council, with an added note to look at the meeting’s minutes.

The note is important because while Peddie preferred denial to the other options the Planning Commission was ready to consider, the eventual recommendation of denial doesn’t encompass the range of opinions and discussion that took place Thursday.

The Planning Commission appeared to sympathize with Peddie’s position on the current community housing regulations imposed on developers. For his entire six-building project, Peddie would have to pay a fee in lieu of almost $166,000 to equal the amount of affordable housing required by city code.

Peddie had proposed to “secure” the fee for the current requirements for the first building and then abide with whatever City Council eventually decides to do or assess a 0.25 percent real estate transfer fee on every sale of the units in his development.

The Planning Commission also considered letting Peddie pay the approximately $30,000 fee for the first building after obtaining the building permit but before receiving a certificate of occupancy.

All of the options had issues. One is the phasing of the fees per building rather than as an upfront cost. The other is moving the collection from the beginning of construction to before receiving a certificate of occupancy.

Planning Commission member Charlie MacArthur said delaying the fee in lieu until after the building permit would be “un-frontloading the community housing plan.”

“It will set a precedent that anyone that comes in will be asking for the same thing,” MacArthur said. “No one will accept frontloaded. I do see that as a policy change.”

The idea to allow the first building to go forward but with the fee paid before issuance of the building permit was floated but rejected by Peddie.

In the end, Peddie preferred a recommendation of denial but with the City Council having some idea of how the Planning Commission reached that stance.

Peddie said at the beginning of the meeting that the climate for development is tough; properties still are being sold for less than the cost to build. Building costs are higher now than just 90 days ago, he said.

Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said Thursday that the timeline for looking at the community housing plan is six months.

Peddie said he would like to be in the ground during the summer as costs are less and is willing to take the risk of abiding by whatever the future resolution entails for the rest of the project.

“We’re trying to do the right thing but also get a project built,” he said.

The matter will now go before the City Council.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com.

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