Steamboat, county leaders to update community growth strategy | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat, county leaders to update community growth strategy

Bringing data up to date in Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan a goal

Steamboat Springs and Routt County will review the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan to determine what, if any, changes are needed in the document that guides development in and around the city.

— City and county government leaders agreed Monday to take the first steps to revise the community-driven planning document that has been relied on for 15 years to provide a philosophical basis for month-to-month decision making.

The Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan was adopted in 1995 and substantially revised in 2004 at the end of a three-year process. County Planning Director Chad Phillips and City Community Development Director Tyler Gibbs aren't proposing a complete revision of the document in 2011. Instead, they propose to update some of the data that forms the basis of the plan.

"I think it's really important to get the specifics on conditions that have changed and how that feeds into the public's visions and goals," council member Meg Bentley said. "It's just critical."

The plan reaches beyond the city limits to rural neighborhoods like the south valley and Strawberry Park to describe residents' visions for their futures. While not binding, it contains principles that generations of council members and commissioners have used to justify votes on proposed developments.

Gibbs and Phillips said they will use their own staff working within the current budgets to update data.

Gibbs noted that during the past joint meeting between the City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners in June, there was concern about the timing of the update, but he said he saw value in moving ahead with some early steps.

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"The old plan contained 10 vision statements and 44 goals. We would put them in the context of our current situation," he said.

The first phase is to develop a public presentation to familiarize residents with the existing plan and summarize conditions that have changed since 2004.

In the second phase of work authorized by the commissioners and council members Monday, the two governments will solicit community input.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush predicted that although details of the plan might need to be tweaked, the community's goals will be the same.

"In 1995, we started from the bottom up," Mitsch Bush said. "There were many neighborhood meetings. Maybe strategies have changed. I see no evidence the community has changed (its mind) on goals like providing for multi-modal transportation," she said.

Council President Pro-Tem Jon Quinn said while he would be hesitant to undertake a revision of the entire plan in the short term, he thinks updating data such as the remaining capacity for infill development in the city limits is crucial to understanding the economic circumstances the community faces.

County Commissioner Doug Monger said his position on beginning a revision of the community plan has changed since summer.

"I was against updating the plan in July," Monger said. "I'm leery of putting a lot of work into implementing strategies when everything could change in two or three years. I would support the work plan we're moving forward with today."

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