Community Alliance addresses growth at annual gathering | SteamboatToday.com

Community Alliance addresses growth at annual gathering

Margaret Hair

In overseeing four annexations for the town of Crested Butte, John Hess has learned the ins and outs of a complex process.

“It’s a negotiation process; it’s not just a black-and-white process,” said Hess, director of planning and community development for Crested Butte. “The town has all the control because it’s a legislative process, meaning we can decide to do it and we can decide not to do it, and either way, we’re correct.”

Hess will share the lessons he’s learned with Steamboat Springs today at an annual gathering for the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley. The keynote speaker – who was a Routt County planner from 1978 to 1982 – plans to address how Crested Butte does annexations, what factors the town considers and what the outcome can look like.

“I’m going to talk about our process, which is to create a plan that says, ‘Here are appropriate places to build and here are inappropriate places to build, and here’s why,'” Hess said. He listed parks, affordable housing and open space among the possible benefits of annexation; increased costs for services, pressure on water and sewer systems and more development are among the drawbacks, he said.

With two annexation proposals – Steamboat 700 and 360 Village – on the table for the city of Steamboat Springs, growth is a pressing issue, said Steve Aigner, organizer for the Community Alliance.

“As a lot of people know, annexation is now in front of us, and we have to deal with it, and the Community Alliance has devoted most of its attention to annexation in the past year and a half,” Aigner said. That’s meant going to Steamboat Springs City Council meetings every time annexation is on the agenda and meeting once a month with Community Alliance members to discuss the elements of growth – which, depending on who’s looking at it, can include traffic, job opportunities or density of the development, Aigner said.

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The Community Alliance has about 200 members, Aigner said. Event organizers chose to hold the annual meeting this week to encourage members and interested community members to become knowledgeable about annexation before the late summer and early fall, when Aigner anticipates a decision about Steamboat 700.

“People need to ask questions about what they think is most important, so that they can leave with answers to these questions so that they will know how to think about annexation – whether to support it or not to support it,” Aigner said.

“Our mission is to always make sure people are making informed decisions.”

If you go

What: Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley annual gathering, with keynote speaker John Hess talking about “Annexation: Lessons Learned”

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. today

Where: The Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.

Cost: Free

Call: Steve Aigner at 846-8488

More information: John Hess is the director of planning and community development for the town of Crested Butte. Hess has overseen four annexation projects since he took the planning position in 1990. He served as a county planner for Routt County from 1978 to 1982.

The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley focuses on growth control and environment issues such as large-form retail development and affordable housing. The group’s annual gathering starts at 6 p.m., with food at 6:30 p.m., a speech by Hess from 7 to 8 p.m. and a question-and-answer session from 8 to 8:30 p.m.