700 negotiations continue | SteamboatToday.com

700 negotiations continue

Kristi Mohrbacher

— The city and Steamboat 700 developers agreed Tuesday night to allow the annexation process to move forward without a completed environmental assessment – a study that could take 18 months or longer to complete.

The Steamboat Springs City Council and Steamboat 700 developers continued the lengthy pre-annexation negotiating process during the council’s Tuesday night meeting.

The pre-annexation agreement is required before a petition for annexation will be reviewed for Steamboat 700, a proposed development of about 2,000 units west of Steamboat Springs. As proposed, the 700-acre parcel needs to be annexed into city limits before building can begin. The pre-annexation agreement is meant to allow the sides to discuss anticipated issues before the formal process begins.

The council initially required an environmental assessment – at the developer’s expense – to be completed before Steamboat 700 could be considered for annexation. It’s anticipated that the assessment will identify needed U.S. Highway 40 improvements and the percentage of improvements Steamboat 700 should be responsible for funding.

With a potential 18 month or longer wait until the assessment is completed, Steamboat 700 land-use attorney Bob Weiss requested that his clients be able to proceed with the annexation process.

“We don’t want to be held hostage to the” environmental assessment, Weiss said.

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Weiss also said the developers are ready to write a check for the estimated amount they will be responsible for paying when the assessment is complete. Weiss also said there should be a plan for reimbursement should the actual amount be less or if it is determined that other developers will benefit from the assessment or highway improvements and need to chip in as well.

Pending the creation of a formula that states the percentage of the cost of improvements the city will be responsible for and the percentage Steamboat 700 will be responsible for, the city agreed that submittal for annexation is not dependent on the completion of the assessment.

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski voiced concern that the city would have trouble paying for its share of necessary improvements identified by the assessment and requested that Steamboat 700 propose ideas for funding, such as large-format retail within the development.

City Council President Loui Antonucci acknowledged that while “it’s important to get some affordable housing built soon,” there is trepidation about the city’s financial obligation to U.S. 40 improvements.

“The city’s obligation shouldn’t change depending on whether it’s a million dollars or a hundred million dollars,” Steamboat 700 Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said. “The road’s necessary today, whether I build (the development) or not.”

The negotiation teams tentatively plan to meet next week to continue the discussion. Steamboat 700 anticipates completion of the annexation process by June 2009.