Routt County Commissioners uninterested in pulling nonprofit’s 2015 development permit | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County Commissioners uninterested in pulling nonprofit’s 2015 development permit

Routt County Board of Commissioners

— Upon learning Tuesday afternoon that Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, or STARS, has submitted a newly amended application for a permit that would enable development of its new campus just outside the southern limits of Steamboat Springs, the Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously not to take any action on the original conditional use permit granted by Planning Commission in January 2015.

"This hearing is based on compliance with the original permit," County Planning Director Chad Phillips told the BOC and between 35 and 40 audience members. He went on to point out there are a half dozen conditions of approval which STARS has yet to satisfy before acting on its permit, and one of them likely cannot be met. The latter is a requirement that STARS will graze the horses that are part of the nonprofit's therapeutic riding program on the neighboring Legacy Ranch, which is under conservation easement that has been determined to exclude the grazing activity.

"We still believe that, ultimately, that land was meant for grazing," STARS Executive Director Julie Taulman told the BOC, but "we'll pull that from our plan and run the operation without grazing. It's not desirable, but it's done in Routt County."

"We think we've solved this problem," she said later in the meeting.

The original conditional use permit STARS was granted is potentially invalid if 12 months have passed since its approval and it hasn't been acted on, Phillips said.

"What difference does it make if they don't have a completed permit yet?" Commissioner Doug Monger asked Phillips. "It's irrelevant if they have a permit now."

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Bob Weiss, attorney for STARS, said he didn't think Tuesday's hearing was called for.

The language in county regulations, "Says you can take this up if there have been 'violations,'" Weiss said. "I think the language is important. There is no violation here. There are conditions. We have not satisfied them. One we may not be able to satisfy. In order to address them, we've submitted an amended application."

County Planner Watkins Fulk-Gray, who shepherded the original approval through the process, confirmed that STARS filed an amended permit application (another previously revised permit was tabled indefinitely around Jan. 28, at the organization's request) last week, but it has not been posted to the county's Web page, because it has yet to be deemed complete.

Taulman reminded the BOC that, because her organization felt obligated out of a sense of responsibility to its donors not to close on the original purchase of its new site until after it had gained county approvals, the understanding of its needs at the new facility has evolved over the past 14 months.

"We closed Jan. 20, 2015, and then the real work started for us," Taulman said. "We took time to look at the property and what our long-term needs are for our operation over the next 10 to 15 years, (so as) not to be short-sighted."

In addition to adapting its office and lodging needs, the nonprofit STARS also met numerous times with the Colorado Department of Transportation in order to obtain its U.S. highway access, approved under a new plan by CDOT. The organization has also worked diligently on a watershed plan.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1