West-area plan feedback requested | SteamboatToday.com
Christine Metz

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West-area plan feedback requested

Residents will have an opportunity Wednesday to weigh-in on proposed changes to the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

Wednesday night will be the first community meeting during the update process for the west of Steamboat plan, which details how the area should grow in the next 30 to 40 years. The open-house meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Christian Heritage School.

“We are looking for anybody interested in development in west of Steamboat Springs, people who live out there now or people who might want to live out there looking for affordable-housing opportunities and anybody interested in growth and development in Steamboat Springs,” County Planner John Eastman said.

The plan has been in effect since 1999. Since its adoption, much growth has occurred in the areas just outside of the plan, including the Silver Spur and Heritage Park developments, Eastman said.

An important component in the plan is a requirement for one-third of all housing to be affordable, but little development has occurred inside the boundaries of the plan.

“The meeting is to solicit feedback on what do (people) think needs to be changed in the plan,” Eastman said. “It really is an opportunity for people living out there or in Steamboat Springs to say ‘We like that part, we don’t like this part; I feel this needs to happen,’ or say if we missed anything major as part of the update.”

In February, Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed to make some significant changes to the plan in hopes of spurring development in the area.

At that meeting, the two boards identified 12 major issues with the plan. The county and city planning staff will post those issues at Wednesday’s meeting and gather feedback from the public.

A hotly debated aspect of the plan is the requirement that all new developments be one-third affordable housing. Some residents have said the requirement is stricter than any put in place by other state communities.

The two boards agreed to drop a $720 annual charge on new units for city services. The fee was added to the original plan so that new development would not be an added burden to the city’s expenses, but questions were raised about its fairness.

In exchange for dropping the annual fee, the council and commissioners agreed they would have to find a way to cover the added costs of services to those areas.

Members of the two boards also discussed whether development in the west of Steamboat area should be required to go from east to west. The city and county have long held the belief that the land within the plan’s boundaries should be developed east to west.

Landowners have objected to this theory, thinking that it makes more sense to develop close to Silver Spur and Steamboat II, where infrastructure already is in place.

Eastman said the county and city plan to work on the plan throughout the summer, with a draft expected by late August.