Steamboat Planning Commission recommends custom zone district for Wildhorse parcel


— The first project to go through the city of Steamboat Springs’ new planned unit development process is a 3.25-acre parcel at Wildhorse Meadows that still is owned by some of the original partners from the 2006 plan for the larger area.

Now, after selling about 17 acres of the original Wildhorse plan, the group is trying to turn the parcel next to the people mover at Trailhead Lodge into mixed-use buildings and potentially a site for location-neutral offices.

To accomplish that vision and allow for flexibility, Brent Pearson and his partners are going through the new PUD process to create a custom zone district.

During Thursday’s meeting, Steamboat Springs Planning Commission members expressed concerns about the potential for too much or too little density and a general difficulty to envision what the end product could be with so many conditional uses listed for the custom zone district.

“We’ve tried to identify all the things that make sense in that area of town.” Pearson said, adding that his group doesn’t want to “supersede the market” by driving certain uses away.

Planning Commission member Kathi Meyer said she didn’t think the first PUD application coming through the new process would be this flexible.

Meyer asked if an existing zone district could accommodate the project and said she wondered whether this was the type of property in mind when the new PUD process was created.

“To me, this is one of the properties that is tailor-made for the PUD zone district just because it doesn't fit neatly into any other package,” Planning Commission member Brian Hanlen said.

The proximity to public transportation, the people mover and residential surroundings were cited as reasons for the custom zone district that blends items from low-density resort residential and districts immediately around the gondola.

To quell some concerns about the potential for underdevelopment or lack of commercial uses deemed vital for mixed use, design standards were agreed upon by the partners and city staff. The standards, such as minimum levels of glazing for first-level windows, are set up to allow form to dictate use rather than mandating a certain amount of commercial use that might not be viable before a critical mass of foot traffic is reached.

The amount of parking also was a sticking point for some members of the Planning Commission, but Pearson once again stressed the transportation options in the area and the pedestrian-friendly nature of the area and plan.

The custom zone district was recommended by the Planning Commission with Meyer opposing.

“I’m not quite convinced that everything the applicant is asking for is necessary,” she said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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Steve Lewis 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow. They don't even need to build to reap a nice profit on these new Uses and parking reductions won. Good for neighboring investments? I doubt it. Many of the Uses granted below are not even compatible with each other, much less the neighboring RR-1 Zone. Each Use listed below will be permanently vested on this 3 acre parcel. From the packet:


ATM cash
Bed & Brkfst
Business Services
Commercial, Med
Commercial, Small
Farmers Market
Media Production
Neighborhood Store Nightclub
Recreation Equipment Rental
Outdoor Display
Outdoor Seating
Outdoor Sales
Performing Arts Facility
Recreation Center
Recreation, Indoor
Recreation, Outdoor
Telecommunication Facility
Child Care Center, Small
Day Care Home
Sports Complex


Steve Lewis 3 years, 7 months ago


in this PUD = 1/500 sqft

in RR-1 Zone = 1/300 sqft

in this PUD = 1/900

in RR-1 Zone = 1/300


in this PUD = 1/900

in RR-1 Zone = 1/150

“I’m not quite convinced that everything the applicant is asking for is necessary,” Agreed.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

If they don't provide enough parking, maybe people will stop coming, and they will realize they need to provide more. Or maybe they will require their employees to park off site and use public transportation to come in. It does seem like a perfect place to have reduced requirements for parking.

I don't see any uses that are clearly incompatible on the list. There is no heavy industrial there, nor other uses that are unpleasant to be close to. Ultimately, the managers of the property will have to decide if certain activities are driving others away, and make adjustments for the benefit of all the tenants. In fact, allowing a very broad range of uses will probable make the place a great success.

And that is how it should be. The government should not prohibit any activity by zoning except those that the public has a compelling interest in restricting, stripper bars next to schoolyards for example, auto crushers in residential neighborhoods. These developers have a compelling interest in making the project attractive to tenants, they don't need the government to tell them how to do it.

Kudos to the commission for approving this.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

The fundamental problem with local planning is that just about every commercial construction is considered to be a special case requiring planning hearings.

Planning/zoning has a valid purpose of preventing a neighbor's use from being so incompatible that it hurts property values. Since the property owner is protected from such an incompatible use then they can invest with some confidence in their property. For instance, it becomes hard to invest and build a fancy restaurant if a cattle feedlot could be opened on a neighboring property.

Planning/zoning is counterproductive when it is controlled by a bunch of do-gooders whom believe their opinions on design and usage are more important than the investors putting their money at risk. The worst design features in local buildings are due to "input" from planning.

It is ridiculous that this parcel got special zoning because this zoning should be part of the city's normal commercial zoning.


Steve Lewis 3 years, 7 months ago

From the view of one owner, yes this is great flexibility. From the view of existing and future neighbors it is too much. Over the years the parcel could become any of these Uses: Dormitory, Nightclub, Child Care Center, Bed & Brkfst, Outdoor Seating, Performing Arts Facility, Recreation Center, Recreation, Outdoor, Telecommunication Facility, Day Care Home, Sports Complex

These Uses go well together? Given this parcel may at any time become one of the extreme Uses, I believe that will drive away interest in adjacent RR-1 properties. There is a reason most of the above Uses are prohibited on RR-1 parcels. Building resort condominiums next door to a nightclub or outdoor seating is less attractive if the latest Ski Time Square Dev Permit is any indication.

Wildhorse Meadows is mostly vacant land today, and Resort Ventures West creates good product. As an experiment, I expect Wildhorse Meadows will re-learn the market axiom that zoning certainty creates value for the whole. 2 or 3 of these PUDs will re-write owner's expectations in this district. Shifting zoning incrementally toward a new demand is a good thing. Shifting zoning in one district can be too. This new PUD ordinance goes much further. When the next investors don't know what to expect on any given (commercial) street corner, that is a bad thing.


jack legrice 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you John. I agree. They have turned Wildhorse plaza around.They got through the the hard times. If anyone can make this work Brent and his crew can.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

As I review the list of conditional uses and envision them being actualized, I have to think how wonderful it would be if they all came to fruition. What a vibrant, dynamic neighborhood it would be, add in the gondola access to the mountain, it would have it all. The only problem I see is that we need to add in the other 17 acres to that zone, and make all these uses by right instead of conditional. But that would be way too much freedom for those who live and work there, and not a big enough role for regulators.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

PS Scott, there is a very successful steak house and cowboy dance hall in Green Forest Arkansas that has a feed lot on site, just a part of the ambiance and useful to the business..

If investors know they can expect anything on that list may be developed only those who are comfortable with that will venture their capital. Let's just wait and see, if Steve is right they will stay away in droves and the developers will be back at planning begging for more restrictions.

As per Yogi Berra, " If the people aren't going to come, there's no way you're gonna stop them.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, that is probably a very clean feedlot.

The nuisance code still applies so, for instance, a nightclub would not be expected to be allowed to make lots of noise bothering a dormitory.

The list of uses generally seems to be what might be found in a large city's downtown core. That is modern design and this zoning gives flexibility for an interesting commercial project by having the diversity of a downtown.

The general problem of planning is that it dumbs down design and creates a relentless sameness by controlling so many aspects of a project.


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