Laura Beauregard: Let’s rethink RiverView
May 11, 2017
The RiverView planned unit development is a radical departure from the Old Town context that provides a safe, pedestrian-friendly grid of access roads. More density is proposed on all six lots. The city of Steamboat Springs collaborated with the developer for 16 months prior to public notice.
As an owner on Third Street, I should be thrilled. My property value could sky rocket. In reality, I’ll pay more tax, including one proposed to resolve traffic congestion.
Slow down. Congestion at Third and Lincoln can only get worse with RiverView’s request for more density.
How much more? The hotel next to Rabbit Ears requests 80 percent more density than the current code allows.
This means a 132,346-square-foot structure could be built, larger than the Fairfield Inn and closer in size to the Sheraton. Replacing lodging units downtown could be desirable, within the limits of the code.
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For approval, RiverView must balance hardship with public benefits. Distressing the property is a hardship self imposed by removing the trailers for River Walk, the current owner on the assessor’s files.
Spring Creek drainage improvements were required to bring the property out of the floodplain. This may be a public benefit, even though it was required.
Other public benefits are also financially driven, like the contribution to a traffic light study and a tax for river improvements.
It’s unclear whether the entire site could be paved and snow melted. Will the tax be enough? Andy Heppleman, president of Trout Unlimited stated “We’ve been real close to completely killing all the trout in the river over the last few years because the water temperature gets so high.”
Another benefit is the "cross access easement" so Rabbit Ears guests can exit onto RiverView’s driveways, since turning left onto Lincoln will become impossible. The elevation is 10 feet below the Rabbit Ears parking lot, so they’ll have to dig down on their property for access.
Connectivity will be resolved later.
Core Trail connections could include a bridge crossing the river at Third Street. Instead, a path along the river will promote erosion through Dr. Rich Weiss Park.
Slow down. The curving "loop road" proposes a 15-miles-per-hour speed limit on a substandard road width. Emergency access requires backing out of dead ends, uphill and around curves, adding difficulty for Emergency Service providers.
I prefer density with dignity, respecting the grid that creates the common fabric of Old Town.
RiverView is only contextual when considering the "development study" that deems almost everything from Rabbit Ears to the Olympian obsolete. Even the Space Station must go.
Only five public parking spaces are delineated on the RiverView property, with six on Fourth Street. Once the Post Office and bank lots are full, neighborhoods will absorb the overburden. The developer speculated that "driverless cars" could park in outlying areas.
Updated plans will be available May 12, and decisions will be made just four days later. Express concerns before May 16. Timing is everything.
Thank you for joining the effort to rethink RiverView.
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