Steamboat Springs City Council not ready to endorse latest water proposal for housing development | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council not ready to endorse latest water proposal for housing development

Scott Franz

Brynn Grey Partners is proposing to phase in new neighborhoods in west Steamboat Springs, with the first neighborhood consisting of 131 homes.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council thinks a developer's latest water proposal for new neighborhoods on the west side of town still is too risky for the community and its taxpayers.

But the council has resolved to try and keep the housing proposal afloat in the coming weeks through some negotiations. And the developer is committed to looking into how to further minimize any risk the council is concerned about.

"I'd like to see something move forward but not the existing proposal," Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said.

The council was in general agreement that the city will have the infrastructure needed to service the proposed 450 housing units.

However, there was some disagreement as to whether the developer's proposal for how to pay for water infrastructure and future water needs was adequate.

Meyer and some other council members specifically want more money up front from the developers that could be used to help secure a third water source on the Elk River.

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They also expressed concern with a proposal to forgo a $1 million secondary water line into the new development until a second phase of the housing project was underway.

Brynn Grey has proposed that each buyer of a market rate home in the new neighborhoods would pay a $16,000 fee to the city that it could use to secure future water sources and infrastructure. The city estimates that fee could generate $4.8 million.

Brynn Grey is proposing to have the fees paid when the homes are bought. But several council members fear that it would take too long for the fund to grow and the city wouldn't be able to do anything meaningful or impactful with it in the beginning.

"We need some money up front," Council President Walter Magill said. "I'm not ready as a council member to become a partner on this project."

Council President Pro-Tem Jason Lacy said not having some money up front makes it seem as if the city is taking on some development risk.

Representatives from Brynn Grey didn't see it that way.

They didn't share the council's concern about risk and noted that the housing units wouldn't generate more demands for water unless they were built. And if they are built, the water fees would be collected.

Council members had some other concerns.

Meyer took issue with Brynn Grey's claim that it was paying for the water infrastructure to support the new neighborhoods.

She noted that of the $12.75 million in infrastructure costs, $11.5 million would ultimately be paid by the new homeowners.

"You might write the check (up front), but it is not a Brynn Grey contribution," she wrote.

Not all council members felt the developer's proposal needs to be revised.

Councilman Scott Ford and Councilwoman Robin Crossan appeared ready to accept the water proposal and move onto other items.

Ford expressed concern that the council could "wear out" the developer with its demand for changes and concessions.

"Our challenge is to not get into (saying), Tthere's just one more thing,'” Ford said. "We will wear people out, and we'll wear each other out."

Ford added he feared that if the council was hypothetically handed a bag of gold, "we'd complain about how heavy it was."

Some residents in the audience appeared frustrated by the council's objections to the developer's water proposal.

Realtor Matt Eidt compared the council's discussion to "paralysis by analysis."

He warned the council that without new housing developments, the city could run the risk of "losing the younger leaders and workforce in this community."

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