Steamboat nonprofit that empowers people with disabilities one step closer to new campus | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat nonprofit that empowers people with disabilities one step closer to new campus

This rendering by Mountain Architecture Design Group shows the planned new headquarters for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports — STARS.





This rendering by Mountain Architecture Design Group shows the planned new headquarters for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports — STARS.
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— The Routt County Planning Commission voted May 5 to grant Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports’ wish to amend its existing permit in order to increase the size of a new headquarters lodge from 7,500 to 15,300 square feet.

The majority of county planning commissioners were satisfied that STARS is taking adequate steps to protect nearby city water wells at its new campus. The majority also felt construction of STARS' 32-guestroom lodge and office building is not the primary use of the site but would be an appropriate "accessory" to its adaptive recreation programs on a new site off U.S. Highway 40, just south of Steamboat Springs city limits.

"I know we're not supposed to pick winners and losers," Commissioner Brian Arel said in making the motion to approve the amendment. But, "it's the human services thing that we should be embracing. I think this fits in with that."

In other business … Marabou wins approval to lock ranch gate

Routt County Planning Commission voted May 5 to grant the request of the Marabou Ranch homeowners association to install a lock on its existing main gate, something that was prohibited in the luxury subdivision's original 2005 county permit.

Assistant Planning Director Kristy Winser pointed out there is nothing in county codes that forbids locked ranch gates. However, she said the existing ranch entry compound, specifying an unlocked gate, was part of the development's 2005 approval under the county's land preservation subdivision ordinance. The unlocked gate was added as a condition of the original 2005 approval.

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There are other locked gates at rural ranch subdivisions in the Steamboat area, including Storm Mountain Ranch and Sidney Peak Ranch. But those developments were based on 35-acre parcels and went through a less-detailed approval process.

The question of a locked gate did not coming up during the approval of another LPS subdivision, Alpine Mountain Ranch, but a locked gate has been installed there since.

Given that Marabou’s gate is 100 feet off Routt County Road 42, and its appearance is consistent with the rural character of Routt County, Winser said the majority of Planning Commission didn't feel that locking the gate made a substantive difference at the development, which has a private road system.

On its website, STARS describes its mission as providing "life-changing experiences" for clients with cognitive and physical disabilities. STARS also works with people on the autism spectrum and with injured veterans. Families are often included.

Recreational activities range from Alpine skiing to cycling, kayaking and horseback riding (the latter will take place on the new campus). The positive results include gains in self-esteem, levels of independence, resilience and courage.

The new STARS site is on the west side of U.S. 40, adjacent to the city of Steamboat Springs' Legacy Ranch, where the educational nature organization Yampatika is based. STARS board president Pam Ruehle pointed out that one of the reasons her group chose to purchase the property is that it is within the urban growth boundary, implying it is eligible for more intensive use.

Planning Director Chad Phillips was deliberate in pointing out to an audience of about 35 people at the hearing, as well as the planning commissioners themselves, that the scope of the evening's deliberations should be limited to whether the expanded project continues to mesh with county regulations.

Planning Commission has no standards to apply "based upon who the applicant is," Phillips said. "STARS is an outstanding organization and well-respected in this community. The question is, 'Is this amended land use appropriate for the site?'"

However, it was difficult for some of the commissioners not to take STARS' mission into account.

"I tend to feel this still fits (the county's definition of) an outdoor, rural recreation facility," Commissioner Karl Koehler said. "Recreation experiences for a different client are different. You can't get around it. I'm kind of persuaded by the greater good trumping the notion of strict fidelity to written, stringent regulations and requirements. There is room for interpretation. That's why we have people serving on the board."

Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District manager Frank Alfone told the members of Planning Commission the district is concerned a flood of the Yampa River could potentially carry bacteria from a new STARS wastewater facility into its horizontal well fields a few hundred yards downstream. Alfone added that the district's anticipated purchase of nearby property at Bald Eagle Lake is intended to create a second horizontal well field.

"Our intent is to create redundancy in the water we treat, not only for residents of our district, but the entire city of Steamboat Springs," Alfone said.

With another well field in place, the district could provide adequate domestic water in case a natural disaster — such as a major wildfire — incapacitated the water treatment plant on Fish Creek, Alfone said.

STARS Executive Director Julie Taulman told commissioners that, although STARS is seeking to increase the size of the lodge on the property, it is reducing the potential wastewater production at the same time by reducing the number of finished bedrooms from 36 to 32 to bring targeted wastewater output within 1,880 gallons a day.

That threshold makes the facility eligible for a smaller treatment facility, which, in turn, establishes a maximum output engineering consultants believe can be met with room to spare.

"We designed the (number of rooms) backwards for the maximum number of gallons we could (send) to a septic system," Taulman said.

Finally, she urged the members of Planning Commission to consider that, if STARS were denied its permit amendment and sold the property, it could someday be developed for a more intensive use.

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

In other business … Marabou wins approval to lock ranch gate

Routt County Planning Commission voted May 5 to grant the request of the Marabou Ranch homeowners association to install a lock on its existing main gate, something that was prohibited in the luxury subdivision’s original 2005 county permit.

Assistant Planning Director Kristy Winser pointed out there is nothing in county codes that forbids locked ranch gates. However, she said the existing ranch entry compound, specifying an unlocked gate, was part of the development’s 2005 approval under the county’s land preservation subdivision ordinance. The unlocked gate was added as a condition of the original 2005 approval.

There are other locked gates at rural ranch subdivisions in the Steamboat area, including Storm Mountain Ranch and Sidney Peak Ranch. But those developments were based on 35-acre parcels and went through a less-detailed approval process.

The question of a locked gate did not coming up during the approval of another LPS subdivision, Alpine Mountain Ranch, but a locked gate has been installed there since.

Given that Marabou’s gate is 100 feet off Routt County Road 42, and its appearance is consistent with the rural character of Routt County, Winser said the majority of Planning Commission didn’t feel that locking the gate made a substantive difference at the development, which has a private road system.