Growth borders remain
Planning Commission votes against Emerald Mountain proposal
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Friday, July 11, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs residents could one day see a new neighborhood and Nordic ski lodge on Emerald Mountain — but it likely won’t happen anytime soon.
The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted, 5-2, against an application by Lyman Orton, who proposed an extension to the city’s Urban Growth Boundary on Thursday night. Orton was one of five applicants requesting extensions to the city’s UGB for proposed developments.
The UGB is a line established by the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan in 1995 to identify which lands should be annexed into the city and developed for urban use and which lands shouldn’t be annexed because they are designated for rural use.
Orton proposed a neighborhood on 464 acres on the north side of Emerald Mountain, just outside of city limits. The proposed neighborhood includes mixed-income housing units, many of which would be designated as affordable housing.
For many members of the public Thursday, the most attractive part of Orton’s proposal was a Nordic ski lodge that would house the offices of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and offer recreational opportunities for local youths and avid trail users on Emerald Mountain.
Numerous supporters spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, representing local nonprofit groups, cyclists, trail users, longtime residents and Emerald Mountain enthusiasts. Despite the strong public support, five commissioners voted against the request.
“The public benefit is off the chart,” Commissioner Rich Levy said after moving to deny support for the application, “but it’s not an ideal location for development and is not a logical change to the UGB.”
City planners recommended that commissioners not support the application because it only meets one of five criteria necessary to approve an amendment to the UGB. The level of public benefit was the only element of Orton’s proposal that City Planner Jason Peasley found to be consistent with criteria for expanding the UGB, which is a first step toward annexation into city limits.
Peasley recommended that Orton’s application be tabled until 2009, when the city re-evaluates the community plan — a process that will provide an in-depth look at the goals for future growth.
“I think this project warrants a broad community process,” said Commissioner Kathi Meyer, who also did not support the proposal. “If we move the UGB we create an expectation of annexation, and I don’t think we are there yet.”
She said the public benefit was a wonderful opportunity, but she wanted to see the project meet all of the other criteria, too.
“I’d like to give him the opportunity to go forward with this,” said Commissioner Cedar Beauregard, who supported the proposal. “It just makes sense.”
He mentioned the opportunity to preserve Emerald Mountain for future generations as a huge benefit to the city. Commissioner Tom Ernst echoed Beauregard’s comments and said he wanted to give Orton the chance to move forward with his ideas.
Although disappointed, Orton expressed understanding of the vote against his proposal.
“I’m actually quite pleased there was a lot of support for the vision,” Orton said, “Their hands aren’t tied, but they aren’t able to say ‘Hey, this sounds good; let’s do it,’ so you can see why they made the decision they did.”
In other action
The commission unanimously recommended an extension of the UGB to incorporate a half-acre parcel owned by Butch Dougherty, but did not support a proposed UGB extension that would include 40 acres of riverfront property near the Tree Haus subdivision.
A presentation by developers of Steamboat 700, who propose extending the UGB to include 185 acres west of Steamboat Springs, continued beyond press time Thursday night.
The presentation for 360 Village, including a proposal to extend the UGB more than 240 acres west of the city limits, was postponed because of the late hour. Notice will be provided when details are confirmed for that proposal’s next hearing.
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