Ben Beall: Where are GenXers, millennials?


On Thursday last week, the Routt County and Steamboat Springs planning commissions met to discuss new rules for changing the Urban Growth Boundary of Steamboat Springs. The UGB first was proposed and adopted by both the county and city and was included in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan of 2004.

The SSACP with its UGB has as its vision a vibrant economy with a pedestrian-oriented and compact urban community while protecting the natural environment; and where rural agricultural Routt County begins at the UGB. The UGB was set up to control unwanted urban or rural sprawl.

At the meeting last week, most of the members of the planning commissions showed their preferences through straw votes. If these preferences stand, the concept of the UGB will be changed forever. It was unbelievable to witness member after member unwilling to consider the community’s previously developed vision. Their objective only was to make it easier to change the UGB.

A thoughtful draft was presented by the planning staffs and provided a two-track change process:

  1. A Major Change Process — where the community would have input through updates/revisions to the SSACP; and

  2. an updated Minor Change Process. The commissions examined these options, and the Minor Change Process was gutted.

Many people have worked throughout the years to establish a sustainable, friendly community that has become a model in Colorado. What is happening? Is it because, perhaps, that there were only a couple planning commission members who had even participated in creating the vision of the SSACP? Or is it because of, as one member complained, a lack of public participation?

Below are four logical criteria for minor changes to the UGB, which will be lost if the preferences of the planning commissioners end up being accepted. They were not willing to accept the following:

  1. An acreage requirement or even use of the word “small” in order to give clarity for the decision-makers who will be approving the minor changes.

  2. Municipal water and sewer providers’ maps and plans as criteria for extension of services and thus changes to the UGB.

  3. The property proposed for inclusion within the UGB had to be appropriate for urban levels of density or growth.

  4. A property proposed to be included within the UGB should not have a significant negative impact on surrounding agricultural lands, critical wildlife habitat, existing and planned open spaces, parks and trail systems, rivers, streams and wetlands.

At this meeting there were only two members of the public who even made comments, and their average age was 72 1/2. The UGB has helped our community establish a quality of life that attracts residents and tourists. We are the envy of many other towns. We have a community to protect!

The UGB is not, as some planning commission members stated, “a concept to restrict growth.” It was created to manage growth.

Where are the residents of Steamboat? Where are the GenXers and the millennials? If you like living in Steamboat Springs and being able to walk to a park, kayak the Yampa and ride your bikes on the mountain or Emerald then you need to start paying attention! This is your community!

There is nothing more important than participating in your community. There is nothing more important than the land use patterns in your community. Get involved, or some day you may be very disappointed that those with special interests in development set your future and the future of your children.


Ben Beall

Former Routt County commissioner


Scott Wedel 3 years ago

Even me with my strong curiosity in government find this to be a very complex issue.

It has been explained to me that there are two issues that each have different government processes to make changes. The first is the process for adjusting the UGB and the second is the annexation to SB process. Much of the intent of making the proposed changes to the process is that currently adjusting the UGB is essentially the same as acknowledging that should also be immediately annexed. But it makes more sense to make separate decisions of what COULD EVENTUALLY be part of SB (aka the UGB) vs what now should be annexed to SB with what annexation agreement.

Seems to me that the criticisms mentioned above would be real troublesome if they were not considered as part of the annexation process. But those issues are being removed from the UGB process precisely because they belong in the annexation process.

And while it is largely a semantic argument, I think it is accurate to say that the UGB is designed to RESTRICT growth because it restricts where SB can grow. The annexation process is how SB should MANAGE growth. Since SB 700 is within the UGB then there is plenty of room for rapid growth if that was politically acceptable to SB.


Justin Sonnentag 3 years ago

Mr. Beall

I am a GenXer with a BS in Geography, and this is a very geographic issue... I generally agree with Mr. Mendell. There is a direct correlation here between Michael Schrantz story about affordable home supply and your letter here. Property prices in this town are wildly out of control! A pedestrian oriented compact community is what GenXers and Millennials want. However they cannot afford to live here and contribute in ways that make a community a community.

The only way to save Steamboat from its impending doom (See Winterpark) is to slash home prices in one way or another. Good luck maintaining a community without a robust middle and lower class population.

I suggest hiring a Geographer.


Fred Duckels 3 years ago

The social engineers had a dream and along came the SB700 group to fulfill that vision. The irony was that the Community Alliance "social engineers" were the first ones to circulate a petition to put an end to their wet dream that they thought would never be built. Who is going be the next developer to stick his neck out?


mark hartless 3 years ago

I guess if the Constitution can be a "living doccument" meant to be changed and disregarded, then so can the drivel known as UGB.

Restrictions on property development , such as UGB, Affordable Housing, Conservation Easements, etc all have similar effect - causes prices to rise.

As a Routt County peoperty owner I personally hope people like Mr. Beall are successful in their aspirations to pinch development. However, despite his claim to the contrary, restriction is certainly not in the best interest of the community as a whole.


Steve Lewis 3 years ago

Fred, SB700, if its annexation had passed, would be a series of bankrupt entities today - sunk by the road/sewer infrastructure and other contracts made as the recession hit. Danny might be long gone, but the City would have a pile of litigation and one or two upside down municipal taxing districts to sort out.

The City is currently sending the message that more taxes are needed for servicing the City we already have, so the demands on the next annexing property will also be very costly. Why would the City take the risk with another partner? Same reason as before. Maybe we'll call it "available housing".

Sorry to disagree with you Ben, but I think allowing new landowners into the UGB can be a good thing.


Fred Duckels 3 years ago

Steve, The SB700 is better off now that the proposal has been killed. That's for sure, but the rest of it was not known at the time and you need not take credit for the turn of events.


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