Omar M. Campbell: Put it to the voters | SteamboatToday.com

Omar M. Campbell: Put it to the voters

Steamboat Springs — I have learned a bit about the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP). It was initiated in 1995, apparently by our elected city and county officials. In addition to those worthies, some local individuals and organizations, such as the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, took part. The Chamber Resort Association also had representation, as their members made up a majority of the City Council at the time. I was not able to find out if any of the landowners took part. — I have learned a bit about the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP). It was initiated in 1995, apparently by our elected city and county officials. In addition to those worthies, some local individuals and organizations, such as the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, took part. The Chamber Resort Association also had representation, as their members made up a majority of the City Council at the time. I was not able to find out if any of the landowners took part.

— I have learned a bit about the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP). It was initiated in 1995, apparently by our elected city and county officials. In addition to those worthies, some local individuals and organizations, such as the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, took part. The Chamber Resort Association also had representation, as their members made up a majority of the City Council at the time. I was not able to find out if any of the landowners took part.

The plan virtually assured future approval of growth and annexation by the city, and meant windfall sales to landowners.

A chronology of the WSSAP:

1995 – Original name was Steamboat Springs Comprehensive Area Plan

1999 – First time referred to as WSSAP

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2004 – Reviewed and revised

2006 – Again reviewed and adopted

On the premise that growth was inevitable, the planners looked at areas all around the town – including Strawberry Park, Howelsen Hill, Fairview and the east entrance to town – and finally settled on the area generally west of the Steamboat Springs Airport. Strawberry Park was the preferred option, but the planners foresaw too much objection there. We know the location now of WSSAP as the 700 LLC and 360 Ranch speculations.

The goal of the plan was to manage inevitable growth by diverting it to, and concentrating it in, a “suitable” area. A questionable assumption was that by doing so, the state-mandated 35-acre development, its sprawl and loss of agricultural land, would be less likely to occur. Wishful thinking. If the 700 project is approved, we will still see the 35-acre and “cluster” proposals move in around it. Indeed, the recent 360 Ranch plan calls for 11 cluster units with further plans to ask for high-density to fill in the open space once the adjoining 700 LLC land is annexed. The two proposals add up to 1,060 contiguous acres. You can do your own math to get an idea of the traffic and other adversities created in total if these two high-roller speculations are approved.

There are no good options to mitigate the auto traffic impact from the 700 LLC project alone. There will be at least three housing units per acre. Each will have between two and three cars, or about seven cars per acre. This means probably at least 5,000 more cars using our roads than at the present overloaded level.

With 35-acre parcels on 700 acres, the total housing unit count is 20, and the car count drops to about 140 – a more tolerable level.

Loss of agricultural use is total for the high-density lots; there is still some open space and a lot of forage left for stock and wildlife on 35-acre lots, however.

I have a suggestion for the editor and his Editorial Board: assign a reporter to do an analysis of the WSSAP and the impacts of the proposed developments in it. Readers should really appreciate a thorough update. For example: Who was involved in the plan? Was it a clever official fiat to ensure wholesale growth? Where do the water, sewer, schools, etc., fit in? Are the planned commercial outlets in competition with established, small downtown businesses? There is much more :

All indications are that the new City Council has a comfortable majority predisposed to approve annexation of the 700 LLC property. One successful candidate declared unequivocal approval of 700 LLC. Others were ambiguous about it.

Because of the general perception that City Council rubberstamps all growth, it should voluntarily put 700 LLC annexation before all the voters in Routt County. Council President Loui Antonucci promised in one of his 2001 campaign ads that he was in favor of the voters deciding important issues. Not since annexation of the mountain area in the ’70s has there been a more important issue than the impending wholesale growth. We voters expect you to keep your campaign promises. We citizens of the city and county deserve a say in our future.