Walgreens decision tonight at Steamboat City Council meeting | SteamboatToday.com

Walgreens decision tonight at Steamboat City Council meeting

Mike Lawrence

— A lengthy public debate about whether to allow a Walgreens in Steamboat Spr­­ings is expected to be decided tonight by the City Council.

The Steamboat Springs City Council will address what essentially is a last attempt by developer Brian Olson to get approval for a building he hopes to break ground on this year, but which has drawn recommendations for denial from city planning staff and the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission voted against the store's proposed site layout and development plans Thursday in two 4-2 votes that reflected the numerous variances requested by developers and, primarily, the plan to have a loading dock, trash facilities and a drive-through window on the side of the building facing U.S. Highway 40. That building orientation is against the city's urban design standards and one of 11 variances requested by the developers.

"It's a lot of variances that they're looking for — certainly more than most successful applicants come through with," Councilman Jon Quinn said.

Olson tonight is appealing the Planning Commission's two votes against the project. If City Council overturn those votes, the Walgreens project could move forward. If City Council uphold the votes, Olson would have to either wait one year before re-entering the planning process or could come back sooner with a project that is substantially different than the current proposal.

City planner Jason Peasley said Monday that there is no specific threshold in city codes for what a "substantial" difference entails. Olson, though, indicated that revisions or continuing the project after a delay are unlikely scenarios.

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"We feel like we've done all we can," Olson said. "The reality is that everybody has their requirements, including the city, and we try to work within those parameters to make it be a win-win."

Quinn said Sunday that he remained undecided about his vote tonight after reading through Planning Com­mission's ruling and other materials.

"I kept swaying back and forth between being sympathetic to the applicant and supporting Planning Commission's final decision," Quinn said.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski also declined to predict her vote.

"I think it stands a chance (of approval)," she said Monday. "I think from reading the minutes, there was a lot of public comments in support."

She noted, however, that City Council members were receiving a lot of e-mails Monday from residents opposed to the Walgreens proposal.

Hermacinski said concerns about variances and the building's orientation are offset in her mind, at least somewhat, by developers' efforts at landscaping and building design.

"I understand that it's a gateway (to the city) … but at least from an architectural rendering, it looks like a pretty good job," she said.

Quinn noted that there will be no easy answer tonight and he'll likely upset some of his constituents, no matter what he decides.

"It's one of those (votes) that I look forward to losing, either way," he joked.

Also tonight, in the meeting's first agenda item, City Council is scheduled to discuss whether to ask residents to voluntarily stop using Rita Valentine Park as an off-leash dog park for the rest of winter, after an elk herd near the park caused concerns from area residents.

Agenda highlights

All times after 5 p.m. are estimates and subject to change

■ 5 p.m. Meeting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority

■ 5:05 p.m. Convene as City Council; discussion of potential voluntary closure of off-leash dog park at Rita Valentine Park for remainder of winter; motion to approve the contract of Wendy DuBord as interim city manager while City Manager Jon Roberts continues his recovery from a ski accident; motion to approve a $75,000 grant from the community housing fund to help Habitat for Humanity purchase land in the Riverside neighborhood for a duplex; second reading of an ordinance that would approve land management agreement between the city and Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park group.

■ 7 p.m. Public comment; public hearing of two appeals by developers seeking to build a Walgreens at U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road, after Steamboat Springs Planning Commission recommended denial of the project Thursday

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