Council to consider relaxed standards for affordable projects | SteamboatToday.com

Council to consider relaxed standards for affordable projects

Brandon Gee

— Affordable housing is just that for those who live in it, but some officials say the term is a misnomer for those who actually build it.

At its meeting tonight, the Steamboat Springs City Council will consider the second reading of an ordinance adopting design standards and entry corridor concepts for commercial, mixed-use and multifamily developments outside the mountain base and downtown areas. When the ordinance was before the Steamboat Springs City Council, the biggest debate concerned whether to allow parking on the street-side of businesses.

But that was before council members Scott Myller and Cari Hermacinski brought up the idea of relaxing design standards for affordable housing projects at the ordinance’s first reading two weeks ago. The idea pits the enticement to build such housing against the point of providing it in the first place. If council agrees to grant architectural relief, it will force the reversal of a strong stance taken by the city’s planning staff.

City staff officials fear that if standards are relaxed for affordable projects, those properties will stand out. City Manager Alan Lanning said the point of providing affordable housing is to create an integrated community rather than single out the less fortunate.

“If you have a $1 million house and you have a trailer next door to it in the same neighborhood, it creates class warfare,” Lanning said Feb. 7.

“You don’t want to drive past and say, ‘Look, Mommy, that’s where the poor people live,'” added Nancy Engelken, the city’s community housing coordinator.

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Hermacinski said the issue is less dramatic.

“It’s fine to have modest homes,” she said Monday. “People need houses to live in. We need to make sure they get built without totally overburdening developers.”

Hermacinski noted that the relaxed standards wouldn’t apply to developers who must meet the requirements of the city’s inclusionary zoning and linkage requirements. In other words, a posh riverside development would not be able to meet its on-site housing requirements by erecting a few trailers out back. Rather, Hermacinski said the design relief would help the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity and others who set out solely to build an affordable product.

Housing Authority Project Manager Curtis Church said Monday that he would need to know more about what the city is proposing to take a stance on it. But he did say, in general, less demanding standards would be good for affordable housing.

Liquor licensing

Also today, City Council will convene as the local Liquor License Authority to consider Kathy Nerney’s liquor license request for the Jade Summit restaurant and its upstairs bar Pirate’s Pub in Ski Time Square. The license could come with strings attached if the council approves it.

City staff is recommending a condition of approval that Kathy Nerney’s husband, Kevin Nerney, not be allowed on the premises during business hours. Kevin Nerney, the original owner of the establishment, had his liquor license revoked Nov. 8 in response to allegations that he made unlawful sexual contact with a patron at his bar in February 2007. He was cleared of the charges in criminal court in August, but the City Council, acting as the city’s Liquor License Authority, held its own hearings and decided that Kevin Nerney violated state liquor codes.

On the same night that it considers Kathy Nerney’s request, City Council also may adopt an ordinance that would prevent it from being embroiled in similar controversies in the future. The ordinance would divide the local Liquor License Authority into two divisions: administrative and compliance. The council would continue to serve as the administrative division that approves new licenses, but a hearing officer would review all liquor violations and failed compliance checks.

Hermacinski wants the council to go even further and remove itself completely from liquor licensing. She said Monday that she hopes the Nerney situation will give her leverage to convince her fellow council members.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Agenda

– 5 p.m. City Council will convene as the local Liquor License Authority to set a hearing date to consider a new license for Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and to hold a hearing on a new license being requested for Pirate’s Pub

– 5:30 p.m. Second reading of an ordinance approving the West Acres Subdivision, waiving certain requirements of the municipal code; second reading of an ordinance approving a contract to purchase rights-of-way for the New Victory Highway from the West Acres Ranch Partners; second reading of an ordinance authorizing the city to require the owners of property benefited by the construction of public improvements to share in their cost; second reading of an ordinance adopting urban design standards and entry corridor concepts for commercial, mixed-use and multifamily developments located outside the mountain base and downtown areas; second reading of an ordinance reorganizing the Local Liquor License into administrative and compliance divisions

– 7 p.m. Public comment; Planning Commission referrals; council and staff reports