Steamboat 700 traffic plans get review
Planning Commission to provide specific feedback tonight
By Brandon Gee - Steambaot Pilot & TODAY
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will continue its review of the proposed Steamboat 700 development tonight, with traffic concerns set to be a major focus.
Steamboat 700 principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said his traffic consultant, Bill Fox of Fox Higgins Transportation Group, will give commissioners a brief traffic and transportation presentation. Tonight’s hearing is a continuation of a meeting held last week that Fox did not attend. Commissioners are expected to wrap up the two-part consideration of Steamboat 700’s pre-application for development with specific feedback and policy recommendations.
If developed, Steamboat 700 would have a major impact on local traffic and transportation. In addition to the automobile trips its thousands of homes and hundreds of thousands of commercial square footage would generate, the development also is proposed to include construction of some major new roadways.
Using national average automobile trip generation rates, Steamboat 700 would generate about 27,600 automobile trips a day when fully developed, according to the developers’ initial submittal.
But the developers are projecting that because of its community planning, Steamboat 700 could actually generate only about 14,000 off-site automobile trips a day when fully developed. Applying a number of trip reductions leads to that nearly 50 percent discount. Those reductions are based in part on assumptions that the development will rely heavily on public transportation and that it will include enough commercial services and other amenities to eliminate the need for residents to travel off-site.
Mulcahy said the city’s West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan calls for such aggressive assumptions, but city planners are concerned by the calculations.
“We have some concerns about the assumptions made,” City Planner Jason Peasley said. “We’d like them to get to that, but their proposed land use may not let them get to that.”
Fox has boasted that 60 percent of the development would be within a quarter-mile of a transit stop, but city planners believe the development should go even further to comply with the area plan’s transit-oriented policies.
“A land use plan which results in almost 40 percent of the units without convenient pedestrian access to transit is not consistent with this policy,” a staff report reads.
Steamboat 700’s application materials estimate that about 80 percent of the off-site traffic the development creates will head east toward Steamboat Springs, an area where U.S. Highway 40 is already very congested. Steamboat 700’s submittal notes that the portion of U.S. 40 east of Elk River Road is already carrying 25,000 vehicles a day, which is 5,000 more than traffic engineers typically consider to be the capacity of a two-lane road.
Steamboat 700’s submittal notes the need for off-site capacity improvements, but developers have not yet addressed the construction and financing of those improvements.
Other items likely to be discussed tonight include affordable housing, Steamboat 700’s proposed expansion of the urban growth boundary and the process by which the development application and annexation request move forward.
At last week’s meeting, former City Councilman Towny Anderson continued his calls for the city to negotiate a pre-annexation agreement before engaging in such a detailed consideration of the development application. Negotiation of a pre-annexation agreement is a requirement of the city’s Community Development Code, but the point at which it should be entered into has been a source of differing interpretations.
“It’s not about what the developer wants to do,” Anderson said last week. “It’s about what the city needs. … If you focus on development, you’re only reacting to what the developer wants.”
Mulcahy said he believes the process he and the city are currently following — one that won’t see the pre-annexation agreement enter into consideration until after the pre-application review — is appropriate.
“Over the next few months, we’ll take all that feedback and incorporate it into a pre-annexation agreement,” Mulcahy said Wednesday. “And then we’ll be off.”
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