City of Steamboat seeks zoning change for highway-facing police station |

City of Steamboat seeks zoning change for highway-facing police station

The current zoning at the west Steamboat property would not allow a structure with so few windows and flat roofs to be constructed along U.S. Highway 40.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs planning commissioners are set to weigh in Thursday on a zoning proposal that would allow part of the city's new police station on U.S. Highway 40 to be less visually appealing than other highway-facing buildings are forced to be in the city.

City officials are seeking to rezone the vacant land next to the Routt County Jail so that the new shared public safety building they plan to start building there next year doesn't have to meet higher urban design standards that require highway-facing buildings to have more windows, bigger front setbacks and pitched roofs.

The current zoning of the parcel also would not allow the city and the county to construct a freestanding garage and storage building without windows close to U.S. Highway 40 at such a visible location.

The custom zoning plan is ultimately being pursued so that the new law enforcement facility can be safer, more secure and more functional.

For example, the exterior of the building has been designed to be able to protect against gunfire and other ballistics. Including more windows on the exterior of the building and garage could theoretically make the structures less secure.

"The goal of (rezoning this parcel) is to be able to provide the safest building possible to its visitors and staff through recommendations from the experts following Homeland Security guidelines," city staff wrote in their building application. "Non-compliance with these guidelines could leave the building and employees exposed to potential risks…."

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To compensate for the lack of windows on the exterior of the building, the city is proposing to improve landscaping and put more windows in other places.

City officials also note the building would blend in with the nearby jail and sheriff's office building.

City planners are recommending approval of the zoning request.

In their review, they note they needed to acknowledge the uniqueness of the structure and the need for more security.

The new public safety campus will include a new 25,908-square-foot facility that will house the Routt County Sheriff's Office, the city's police force and the county's emergency communications center. The project will also construct a new 4,100-square-foot garage, a 21-space parking lot and a 5,188-square-foot remodel of the existing sheriff's office.

The facility and associated remodels are estimated to cost about $16.46 million.

According to the latest cost breakdown available, the city’s bill for the shared facility comes to an estimated $11.2 million, while the county’s share comes in at $5.3 million.

The planning commission meeting starts at 5 p.m. Thursday in Citizens Hall.

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