Big box store discussion returns to Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Big box store discussion returns to Steamboat

Planning Commission set to consider large-format retail

Mike Lawrence

— City planners tonight will revive public discussion about regulations and locations for large-format retail stores in Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Springs Plan­ning Commission is slated to discuss proposed changes to the community development code regarding large-format retail in Steamboat. Tonight's discussion is a public work session with city planning staff, and no action will be taken about the issue. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall on 10th Street.

John Eastman, city planning services manager, said large-format regulations apply to any retail store larger than 12,000 square feet. No retail store larger than 20,000 square feet is permitted east of 13th Street — and that standard is not proposed to change, Eastman said, but it will be part of "an open-ended discussion" about where large-format retail is allowed in the city. He said tonight's discussion also includes proposals by planning staff to "clean up" loopholes, redundancies and inconsistencies in community development code regulations.

Public debate about whether and where to allow such stores in Steamboat has arisen several times in recent years. In 2006, a proposed and ultimately unsuccessful development would have brought a Walgreens store to U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road.

Eastman said large-format regulations were adopted "kind of in the heat of the moment" during review of that development. The regulations contain inconsistencies such as requiring less stringent landscaping for large-format stores than regular commercial zones, Eastman said. City planning staff will present revisions to the Planning Commission tonight.

The city already has added a new size category, for retail between 12,000 and 40,000 square feet, eliminating the requirement for a community impact study from new proposals in that size range.

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Large-format retail discussions also arose early this year, when the Planning Co­m­m­i­s­s­ion and Steamboat Springs City Council discussed whether to require the now-approved Steamboat 700 annexation to reserve space for large-format retail.

The City Council voted unanimously in March against making such space a condition of annexation.

Rich Levy, chairman of the Planning Commission, said that discussion spurred talk about where large-format retail should be located.

"A few commissioners at that time thought they would rather see big box downtown than two miles away," Levy said Wednesday, using "downtown" to mean areas such as Central Park Plaza.

Levy said the Steamboat community has not given a clear direction about large-format retail.

"I know our community is divided about it — there's a lot to say for and against big box," Levy said.

"I'll just say that I'm looking forward to the discussion."

Tonight's meeting also includes the Plann­ing Co­mmis­s­ion's review of the final development plan for a nearly 20,000-square-foot industrial and residential space in six buildings in Copper Ridge Business Park, off Routt County Road 129.

Planning staff said the proposal for the project was consistent with city standards and requirements.

It recommended that Planning Commission support the project.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: Meeting of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission,

including a discussion of large-format retail stores

When: 6 p.m. today. Large-format retail is the third agenda item after public comment about non-agenda items and a final development plan for an industrial and residential development in Copper Ridge Business Park.

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development at 871-8258 or click here for more information.

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