Steamboat 700 proposal faces concerns during three-week meeting blitz | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat 700 proposal faces concerns during three-week meeting blitz

Brandon Gee

This rendering shows ideas for a future city center in the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation west of downtown Steamboat Springs. The Routt County Commissioners will review the development's pre-application at 6 p.m. today.

— The enthusiasm that carried the day at Steamboat 700’s first major public presentation last month is likely to be replaced with concerns when the project goes before Routt County officials tonight.

In a report prepared for tonight’s hearing with the county planning commission and board of commissioners, city and county staff identify a number of potential issues with the development as currently proposed, including its departure from the affordable housing requirements laid out in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

“They’re not even close,” said John Eastman, planning services manager for the city of Steamboat Springs.

The WSSAP envisions developers providing 20 percent affordable housing for people making an average of 80 percent of the local area median income. The area median income is an income that 50 percent of a population makes less than, with the remaining 50 percent making more. Steamboat 700’s community housing plan targets people making an average of 120 percent AMI.

In a letter submitted for today’s hearing, which she will not be able to attend, Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush described the WSSAP’s requirements as a “very bare minimum” and Steamboat 700’s departure from them “unacceptable.”

“Increasing the supply of affordable housing for our resident workforce in Steamboat Springs is the single most compelling benefit that has been cited for this development,” Mitsch Bush wrote, “yet this application would not provide the needed supply.”

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According to 2007 data for Routt County, a family of four at 80 percent of AMI has a household income of $58,880. At 120 percent of AMI, it makes $88,320. From a housing-cost standpoint – and using the same 2007 data for a family of four – Steamboat 700’s proposal would result in affordable units ranging in price from $235,700 to $441,900 while the requirements in the WSSAP would result in affordable units priced from $176,800 to $294,600.

“That’s a huge difference,” Eastman said. “The whole idea of the WSSAP was to have deed-restricted affordable housing for the people who truly need it. : Our real concern is it will turn into a second-home community out there, and that’s not our intent.”

Steamboat 700 principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy responded to the affordable housing concerns in a letter in which he emphasized his willingness to discuss revisions to the community housing plan. Mulcahy writes that he is proposing the higher target AMI to provide a larger percentage of ownership affordable units rather than rental ones.

Other issues likely to be discussed tonight include Steamboat 700’s anticipation of a 200-acre expansion of the urban growth boundary, the financing of public improvements such as roads, and debate about the project’s Village Center, which the staff report claims “does not create the pedestrian- and transit-friendly focal point that is envisioned in” the WSSAP and “is disconnected from the majority of the proposed development.”

On Wednesday, Mulcahy said he needs to spend more time analyzing the city and county’s concerns before responding to them.

“They were extensive comments and they were thoughtful and we want to give them the same consideration,” Mulcahy said. “At the end of the day, we’re not that far apart. : This is the very beginning of a very long process.”

Steamboat 700 will next go before the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission in meetings scheduled for Feb. 14 and 21.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com