West Steamboat annexation talks delayed until March | SteamboatToday.com

West Steamboat annexation talks delayed until March

A rendering shows the conceptual layout of a new series of neighborhoods in west Steamboat Springs.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs residents will have to wait until the spring, and perhaps even longer, to find out whether their elected officials will endorse an annexation that would bring more than 400 new homes to the west side of the city.

Brynn Grey Partners isn't scheduled to return to the council chambers until March 13 to resume their housing proposal discussions, which started 18 months ago.

And any potential council vote on whether to move forward with an annexation isn’t expected to come until after that meeting.

The latest holdup in the process is a financial study the developers are working on that will estimate what impacts the annexation would have on the city's budget and its taxpayers.

The analysis should specifically give residents an idea of how much it would cost the city to provide the annexed development with such things as police services, firefighters and snowplows.

The same analysis is also expected to take a look at what the city could potentially gain from the new housing in terms of additional sales tax revenue.

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City Council President Jason Lacy said Tuesday the analysis will ultimately help the council do a balancing test on the annexation proposal to see if any tradeoffs or concessions the developers are seeking from the city should be approved.

"If this is going to have a drastic impact financially on the city budget, that makes it harder for us to give on some of the other items of their proposal," Lacy said.

City Manager Gary Suiter said earlier this month the city got some pushback from Brynn Grey when the City Council asked the developers to put the fiscal analysis together.

"They would have preferred to have not done it," Suiter said.

But Suiter said the company agreed after the city made it clear the council was firm in wanting to see the analysis done.

Council members have also requested a detailed proposal from Brynn Grey that spells out in greater detail what they are proposing to offer in terms of infrastructure.

"We've hit all these topics including water, sewer and roads and housing at all these meetings, but we've had different changes to some of these pieces at different times," Lacy said as he explained why the council wants an updated proposal.

Brynn Grey is currently working with an economist to put the fiscal impact analysis together, and Suiter estimates the city will have a draft of it sometime in January.

In the meantime, one of the city's elected officials recently expressed some concern about Brynn Grey's record of getting the council the information it is seeking.

Councilwoman Heather Sloop specifically led a successful motion earlier this month to remove Brynn Grey from a pre-Thanksgiving agenda where the developers wanted to give the council an update and be available to answer questions.

The developers were scheduled to meet with the council for about 30 minutes before they were bumped off the agenda.

"I am having a very hard time understanding why we need to have a 'hi, we're still here conversation,’" Sloop said before the schedule change was made. "I get it, they want to have some face time, but 30 minutes is a lot of face time. I'm concerned that we're doing this to appease an applicant that's not giving us what we want and what we've been asking for for a very long time."

It remains to be seen whether the council will put the annexation to a public vote.

Brynn Grey initially floated the idea of proactively going to voters to get approval for an annexation.

But in July, Brynn Grey CEO David O'Neil said he wasn't feeling the need for a community vote on the proposal.

It will ultimately be up to the City Council to decide first whether to move forward with an annexation, then, whether the proposal should go to voters for approval.

If the council doesn't send the proposal to voters, the public would have the opportunity to initiate a referendum if enough residents felt such a vote was necessary and agreed to sign a petition to that effect.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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