Steamboat Springs City Council denies plan for new mobile home park in west Steamboat

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— A plan to build a new mobile home park in west Steamboat was stopped Tuesday night by the Steamboat Springs City Council.

After hearing from community members who strongly supported and opposed the project, the council voted, 4-2, to deny the Williams Family Partnership's appeal to rezone land near Copper Ridge Circle to allow the park.

The partnership, which owns the West Acres Mobile Home Park, was planning to develop a smaller park on the 5.5-acre property and was optimistic the park could include about 27 lots and offer rents at an estimated average of $530.

In denying the request, four council members said the proposed site for the park, which is not zoned to allow mobile homes, would not be a suitable location.

“On this piece of property, I can't see the comparability of it,” Councilman Kevin Kaminski said. “I support the project, but I can't support it going into this particular area.”

Partnership spokesman Charley Williams was hoping the council would overturn the unanimous decision of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission to not rezone the land nor amend the city's Future Land-Use Map to allow the park at the space.

In a lengthy presentation to the council, Williams stressed the project's potential to provide affordable housing in the community.

But the city's Future Land-Use Map calls for the property to be used for industrial purposes.

In denying the move before the appeal was heard by council, Planning Commission members cited a number of concerns they had about residential uses on the property. The concerns included wetlands on the property, its proximity to industrial parks, the absence of a transit line, and its topography, among other things.

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said despite those concerns, she supported the project and said it offered a “private-sector solution” to adding more affordable housing in the city.

In their report, the city's planning staff did not offer a recommendation on changing the Future Land-Use Map to allow the park and instead recommended the council and city staff have a larger conversation about where mobile home parks should be allowed in the future.

“There is no clear direction in the code or the (Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan) that provide guidance for how to process a new mobile home park or where that use should be located,” planning staff wrote in a memo to the council. “Therefore, staff did not provide a recommendation to Planning Commission about the project, deciding that a discussion on mobile home parks should be a broader policy discussion.”

The council said Tuesday that it was open to having that conversation.

Councilwoman Sonja Macys joined Hermacinski in not voting to deny the appeal. Macys pointed out the plan wasn't voted on by all members of the Planning Commission and wanted the group to talk about the proposal further.

Williams said Wednesday that he would continue to look for another site, but he wasn't hopeful another mobile home park will be built in the city in the wake of the council's decision.

"I've been looking for 15 years for a property, and there probably won't be another mobile home park in Steamboat now unless land prices go down to almost nothing," he said.

He added he felt Hermacinski was the only council member who understood the value of adding another mobile home park to Steamboat.

According to data provided by Williams, there are six mobile home parks in the city, most of which are fully occupied. The largest is West Acres, with 92 units, and the smallest is White Haven, with about 25 units.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

John St Pierre 1 year, 7 months ago

curious what does the absence of a Transit line have to do with rejecting this project... is it a new requirement now for projects in STeamboat????

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Cresean Sterne 1 year, 7 months ago

I used to live at west acres 2 decades ago when Banana George was part owner and have known the Williams family well for almost 25 yrs. I am a large supporter of affordable housing but would rather see the mobile parks that Stmbt has now cleaned up before another one is built.. West Acres is the most tidy park in town while Milner park is probably the best maintained in the county. Take a drive and see for yourself.. Whitehaven, sleepy bear, dream island and fishcreek are truly a filthy mess and it saddens me that this continues without some sort of city compliance code. These parks are poorly maintained and the owners and clients should be forced to clean them up and keep them that way..(cosidering the fact that most are on a scenic rout along the river..) If anyone has been to florida or california and seen how many parks are maintained they would be disgusted as to what is allowed here..I am not talking about all parks of course but I think you get the just of it.. I'm sure I will get bashed by some for my opinion and thats ok.. The fact still is that these parks have been deteriating for years with trash and junk everywhere and nothing is being done about it..I would like to see these parks require a much better and stricter HOA regulation before any new park is built.. I have huge respect for the Williams family and support there decision for more affordable housing within the community but we have to have a much better standard for the existing parks before going forward with another...

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jerry carlton 1 year, 7 months ago

Residents of Mobile Home Parks are usually low income people. Many can not afford the cost of a vehicle, insurance, gas, liscense plates, maintenance, etc. No vehicle equals high use of public transportation. I do not agree with the councils decision. Private sector decides to provide some affordable housing options, council says no and down the road the council will start throwing tax dollars at affordable housing again. We have all seen how well that works. Cresean I agree with everything you said.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

I think the public transit issue is that a mobile home park creates a need for bus service

Though, this appears to be very close to YVHA's Elk River parcel that was supposed to provide affordable housing. So apparently YVHA is so messed up that they grossly overpaid for a parcel that the City would not have permitted housing. How completely messed up is that?

Or would the City have ignored their own zoning maps and approved YVHA housing since that is a government supported nonprofit? And not a private sector partnership seeking to make money?

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

BTW, the only parcels in SB zoned to be mobile home parks are existing mobile home parks.

So, by definition, there can never be a proposed mobile home park in a location zoned to be a mobile home park. Thus, it follows that it is official city policy to not allow any more mobile home parks.

Mr Williams should not propose mobile homes. He should get an environmental consultant to propose the new hot thing of micro houses which are green because it takes little resources to built and take a small amount of land. City Council would fall over themselves supporting that.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 7 months ago

Good comment Cresean. A minimum standard in mobile home HOA's would benefit everyone in them.

One local excavator wrote this comment to the Williams item: "The fact of the matter is that we desperately need low cost housing in Steamboat irregardless of its location. In the past 3 years I have lost 3 employees because they moved to Hayden or Craig. The housing there was cheaper and the prices of gas prohibitive."

I support the mobile home park in this location, assuming wetlands mitigation is possible, and feel they should have sent this back for Planning Commission to try to shape a workable project. Low income housing should be a strong priority, particularly when delivered by the free market.

Scott, part of the discussion that night was our lack of other parcels zoned for mobile homes. They are reviewing the affordable housing goals and codes of the City, and added this topic to that agenda. There is a decent chance the AH codes will be repealed altogether, with 2 on Council already in support of repeal.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

Steve,

So City policy is to encourage workforce housing and when a business proposes doing it then the best the City can do is say "No, not now, not anyplace for you, but you raise interesting questions so we will study the issue."

We are supposed to believe that City Planning never considered the possibility of additional mobile home parks in city limits? City Planning knew exactly what they were doing when they didn't allow any more mobile homes. They intentionally did not create a zoning category that includes mobile homes as an allowed use. They intentionally created a separate zoning category of "mobile home park" and then zoned no parcel other than existing mobile homes as a mobile home park.

It is typical cynical politics to deny the specific application and then say that it is something to study or have a conversation. It allows City Council to claim they still want affordable housing as a concept when, in practice, they deny the one actual proposal.

City should abolish all affordable housing regulations since they are contrary to zoning policy. If they don't vote to abolish the affordable housing regulations then they should require Planning to state how affordable housing is possible on what parcels under current zoning regulations and maps.

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John St Pierre 1 year, 7 months ago

actually that is a good point about cleaning up the existing ones within the city limits.... just because you live in a low income area is no reason that city neglects you having to put with your neighbors trash piles.... I thought the city had a code enforcement officer???

By the way doesn't YVHA have restrictions on its properties???? Fish Creek Trailer Park is a mess and a special embarrasment when our visitors take a stroll along the bike path and its essentially a government owned project... they should be setting the example.......

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

It makes no sense to not allow another because you don't like what others are doing.

So no more liquor licenses as long as there is a bar that has issues? No more restaurants as long as there is a dirty one serving bad food? No more stores as long as there is a store selling overpriced junk?

You cannot deny a new application because somebody else is doing what you think is a poor job.

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Cresean Sterne 1 year, 7 months ago

We should show by example and were not showing a very good example or respect to the community by allowing this to continue..Not to mention what has been blown or thrown into the river..These properties sit on prime river front real estate. This is also why some sort of city compliance code shoud be addopted in this matter..I have friends with families who live in these parks so I know how important they are. IMO there is no justification as to why they are not better maintained..Most property management companies in Stmbt would never allow junk or trash to be piled up and would enforce tenants to comly to there HOA rules. (So should be the same for trailer parks)

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John St Pierre 1 year, 7 months ago

Scott I am fully support another park.... but I also think the city should enforce cleaning up the exisiting ones also.... the 1st thing you see of Steamboat proper coming, around the corner, from Hayden Airport on shuttle buses is the " STeamboat" city limit sign planted along side the trailer park with its assortment on oddities and relics along the fence line....

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Cresean Sterne 1 year, 7 months ago

Absolutly John..Whether you live in a high end home or low income housing part of owning property is maintaining it..I believe this responsibility lies on the land owner to enforce and the city to have some sort of property guidline throughout.. Boulder is a good example of city guide lines..In some cases Boulder may be a bit strict but they care about the curb appeal of there town..Which includes high grass and junk removal..I understand that one persons junk is another persons treasure but in most cases it is plain laziness and neglect that allows a property to deteriate..

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rhys jones 1 year, 7 months ago

So whatever happened to individual ownership of sites at Fish Creek? I thought that was the ultimate goal of YVHA acquiring that property to begin with. Did they discover what a cash cow that place is?

The same can be said for Dream Island. The owners there milk that cow, putting as little as possible back into it. Back when there was talk of Jim Cook buying it -- and before drainage concerns became prohibitive -- there was talk of an owners' association buying that property, so the occupants owned the land too (no monthly $$, other than assn) so whatever happened to that plan? I guess it was hard to commit so many, so fast...

But I don't see why, in either case, a non-profit can't be set up, which buys the land -- surely the monthly payments can be made lower than current rents, on a per-lot basis -- ownership would pass with occupancy, though sub-letting could be allowed... and here the lawyer in me is out to lunch, somebody else work that out, ain't my party.

The main reason I don't see this happening is the current owners, who won't let go willingly or cheaply.

I'm just thinking, occupant ownership of the land too might instill some pride in the residents, inspiring them to voluntarily spruce up their own property.

Not that ANY of this has ANYTHING to do with a proposed mobile home community -- I saw not one solid objection, other than the zoning Catch-22 detailed above -- and yet again, one feels that any decisions were made long before any meetings. I do, anyway.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

Maybe YVHA should contract out the management of their Fish Creek Park to the Williams Family that is doing a nice job at West Acres.

Fish Creek appears to have huge infrastructure issues in particular with water and sewer that their meeting minutes say need to be replaced. Which after fixing the roads is probably more than what the residents want to pay for a lot.

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Martha D Young 1 year, 7 months ago

Didn't the Enevers sell Fish Creek Trailer Park to its lot renters so that the owners of the trailers would also own the land on which they sit? Does the city have any obligation to maintain roads and infrastructure within that park, as it does in the rest of the residential neighborhoods? Why are so many mobile home parks alongside the Yampa? How do they deal with the occasional flooding and bank erosion? Why were the owners of the mobile home park behind what is now Natural Grocers allowed to raze/remove all the trailers and then let the land remain ugly and unused? It seems to me that the city has a lot of work to do in order to ensure code enforcement and infrastructure maintenance in mobile home parks, and plan for zoning for housing for low income residents.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

YVHA purchased the Fish Creek Trailer Park. The entire parcel is owned by YVHA so the city has no responsibility to maintain the streets or water or sewer lines.

There is a long tradition of mobile home parks being in flood prone areas because they were originally seen as mobile and, in theory, could be moved.

The parcel behind Natural Grocers had a grand development plan called Riverwalk, but the real estate bubble burst before it was built. City has definitions of what is a public nuisance and generally it is to prevent something being a danger or problem to others and not whether something is "ugly".

The City's responsibility for the infrastructure maintenance of private property (which are mobile home parks) is limited and should be limited.

The huge problem that SB faces regarding low income residents is that this is a desirable place to live and that inexpensive housing is under great demand from those wishing to live here. Zoning does not control the final cost of housing A government's has limited ability to distort the free market and create low income housing. It leads to side effects of people staying in their government discounted housing long after they otherwise would have moved on and so on.

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Martha D Young 1 year, 6 months ago

Thanks for the clarifications, Scott. I mistakenly thought that the roads in trailer parks were public and therefore subject to city maintenance. Regarding what constitutes a "public nuisance", the demolition site of the two duplexes off of Oak Street comes to mind, as does the undeveloped and unsightly property between the bank and the condos on Anglers Drive. I wonder if they'd qualify for "urban blight" and therefore "renewal", as has Ski Time Square. Sorta just kidding.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 6 months ago

Blight used to mean properties that had minimal if any value that were waiting for values to improve so that investments could be profitable. Renovating a building to be suitable for decent paying commercial tenants would be a waste of money since no one would be interested in moving to that area. And so everything was left to decay and thus the blight. In that context, redevelopment could work as one massive project converting a whole area because the commercial activity in the tax supported redevelopment area makes nearby lower rent buildings more attractive.

A place like downtown Oak Creek would be a candidate for a redevelopment district. If a company like Big Agnes with 50+ employees could be found willing to move there then using redevelopment money to build them a suitable building could be expected to increase the overall local economy and property values making the redevelopment money worthwhile.

But then politically connected property owners saw how much money there was available for redevelopment and local governments eyed the money that could be used for stadiums and so on, so then properties needing "redevelopment" became anything.

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