Steamboat Planning Commission votes to expand urban boundary
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Urban Growth Boundary amendment public hearings
When: Thursday, July 17, 2008, 5 p.m.
Where: Routt County Courthouse Annex, Commissioners' Hearing Room
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat 700 has won a small victory in the battle to be built.
The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted, 4-3, late Thursday night to recommend an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary in western Steamboat Springs to accommodate 185 acres of the proposed Steamboat 700 development.
The Steamboat 700 team still needs to win a recommendation for approval from the Routt County Planning Commission, and the final decision about its urban growth boundary re-quest will come Aug. 12, during a joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
The UGB is a line that was established by the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan to delineate between land to be developed for future urban use and lands that should be kept for rural use.
Inclusion of a site in the UGB is a step toward annexing the site into city limits.
Steamboat planning commissioners Kathi Meyer, Karen Dixon, Tom Ernst and alternate Brian Hanlen supported a UGB expansion for Steamboat 700, while commissioners Rich Levy, Sarah Fox and Cedar Beauregard voted against an expansion.
City Planner Jason Peasley advised the commissioners to ask themselves, “Is this property appropriate for developing and does it meet the needs of the community?” when deciding whether to extend the UGB.
Steamboat 700 is a proposed 700-acre development — 185 acres of which lie outside the UGB — that could include up to 2,200 residences and 300,000 square feet of commercial space. The area that lies within the UGB is designated by the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan to be developed into a mixed-use community for future growth.
“The biggest part of this was that, in my opinion, moving the UGB here is a logical change,” Meyer said of her decision to recommend approval. West of Steamboat Springs already is identified as the direction the city should grow, Meyer said, and the applicant demonstrated that the existing UGB wasn’t based on any physical constraints on the property.
Although Levy agreed that development should occur west of the city, he disapproved of the amount of development proposed by Steamboat 700.
“I think this kind of expanded development is premature,” Levy said, citing the lack of a traffic study and unknown capacities of U.S. 40. He said the UGB was created as a growth-rate control mechanism and is the only such tool at the city’s disposal.
“The community stated rapid growth as one of their top concerns,” Levy said. “And I think this is what that is.”
Meyer said one person spoke during public comment to encourage following the guidelines of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and allow growth to take place in the area.
“We are pleased that they approved it,” Steamboat 700 land-use attorney Bob Weiss said. “The applicant is proposing a master plan that encompasses the whole property and in order to provide all of the things the city wants, such as affordable housing and a trail system,” the UGB needs to be amended to include the entire property, Weiss said.
He added that if the UGB isn’t amended, the way the land is currently zoned, then “it will end up being several large-lot trophy houses, and I don’t think that is in the best interest of the community.”
The UGB line is not permanent and is intended to be a growth management tool that requires lengthy community discussion about the future growth goals of the city before it can be amended, city planners said.
There are three more public meetings to discuss this year’s five applications to amend the UGB before the Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners make the final decisions in August.
— To reach Kristi Mohrbacher, call 871-4243 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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