City Council passes on proposed water plan for new neighborhoods in West Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

City Council passes on proposed water plan for new neighborhoods in West Steamboat Springs

Elected officials open to negotiating alternative proposal

Brynn Grey Partners is proposing to phase in new neighborhoods in west Steamboat Springs, with the first neighborhood consisting of 131 homes.

— Steamboat Springs City Council members on Tuesday night told the developers who want to build new neighborhoods on the west end of town that they need to come back to the table with more water, and a phased plan for annexation, if they want to make their vision a reality.

The city's elected officials agreed that before such a big housing development moves forward, the city first needs to secure new water storage on the Elk River, a task that could take years.

The council ultimately passed on Brynn Grey's initial proposal for how to pay for water infrastructure that would be needed to support hundreds of new housing units.

Council members saw the proposal from the developers, which didn't bring any new water rights to the table, as risky for the city and its citizens.

The council also appeared leery of assuming too many risks that could come back to bite the city and its citizens if another recession hits and the development stalled.

But they left open the possibility of negotiating a different proposal with Brynn Grey, perhaps in the form of a phased annexation, which would also include more funding for water infrastructure.

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There appeared to be a consensus on council that despite challenges ahead, the proposal has enough potential and benefit for the community that the council wants to continue trying to make the neighborhoods a reality.

"There is a way to make this work," Councilman Tony Connell said.

Saying the requirements would break their bank and make the project less economically feasible, Brynn Grey was asking the council to waive city rules that require developers to either come to the table with water rights needed to support their development, or pay a fee in lieu of that water.

Instead, the developers proposed generating an estimated $480,000 for water infrastructure by charging a $16,000 fee on each market-rate home at closing.

Brynn Grey also said it would pay for $200,000 worth of improvements related to pressure-reducing valves and booster stations that would be needed to connect to the city's water system.

The proposal wasn't enough to gain the approval of council.

"I think zero dollars for water rights is a nonstarter for me," Councilman Jason Lacy said. "We can't start this process until we have Elk River water storage rights in place."

Council President Walter Magill also said the developers needed to bring more to the table.

"We have a duty here to uphold, to make sure development has a way to pay for water rights and not burden our existing infrastructure and the citizens," Magill said.

The water discussion was the first of many potential hearings that will take place before the council decided whether to move forward with any annexation.

Brynn Grey is proposing to start their West Steamboat development with the Gateway Neighborhood, which would consist of 131 homes, 80 percent of which would be dedicated for local workers via a potential deed restriction.

Pricing for the homes has not been discussed.

"We would have to get community buy-in for this project," Magill said. "I do hope we can move forward and continue to work together."

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