Christine Hands: 700 annexation
August 2, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Has anyone ever taken the time to read the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan? The plan originated in 1999 and later was updated in 2006. That was before the days when a development team actually worked arduous hours with the city’s planning staff to fulfill the guidelines of the WSSAP.
If you had taken the time to read the plan, you would have noticed on page 1 the illustrious list of current and former City Council members, county commissioners, city and county planning commissions and planning staff, with an honorable mention of public review and input by community residents in the formulation of this plan.
The plan, which already has been adopted by our community, clearly states the primary area suitable for higher-density residential growth with attainable housing is the same area prescribed in the Steamboat 700 proposal. Directives and guidelines from community input have been clearly stated in the WSSAP, taking into consideration a community of commercial areas, a school, open space, recreation, and emergency public services. What was of special consideration in the plan was a diversity of attainable housing solutions and giving the community assurance that the plan was achievable.
City planners and Steamboat 700 have spent more than a considerable amount of time working through the many challenges a development this size presents, not only to a developer, but to the community the plan was intended to serve.
A basic requirement of the WSSAP states that all new development be annexed into the city of Steamboat Springs in order to provide the public services necessary to the residents of the proposed community. We cannot achieve an attainable housing community without annexation.
The WSSAP is a great plan. Using the guidelines prescribed, Steamboat 700 has provided open space and recreational attributes that we could have only wished were simultaneously being implemented in the downtown and mountain areas. Sensitivity to terrain and to view corridors has been maintained, and the developer has done a remarkable job in fulfilling the WSSAP.
We have acknowledged as a community the need for housing for many years and as yet have not made any substantial progress to address the needs of so many in our work force. We have watched our children grow, and we are watching our children’s children grow. Our college graduates are returning to Steamboat to be a vital part of this county. They have every right to live and work in this incredible town they call home. There is no such thing as “no growth.” The concept is stifling and unproductive. Look at our children and all the vibrant people who have come to our valley to live, work and recreate. That is what progress and education are all about.
When we speak about diversity, we need to be prepared to embrace the whole idea and include the needs of the whole community, not just the special interests of those with limiting visions that cause divisiveness and polarized camps. With the cumulative intelligence of so many wonderful people in this town, we can come up with remarkable solutions. Steamboat deserves the best in everything we do. We never should settle for less in our thinking process. We need to be very clear and unselfish in our intentions to provide the optimum environment for our residents and businesses to thrive while we maintain the history and character of our Steamboat hospitality.
I have great confidence in our ability to move forward positively to make Steamboat 700 an achievable plan. Time is of the essence, and at some point very soon, we just need to move forward constructively.