700 moves to ‘main event’
City Council approves pre-annexation agreement for proposed development
By Tom Ross (Contact)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Steamboat 700 by the numbers
Size: 700 acres
Buildout: 10 to 25 years
Residential units: 1,827 to 2,243
High-density residential units (condos, townhouses, apartments): 45 percent
Small, single-family lots (under 8,000 square feet) or duplexes: 36 percent
Square footage of commercial/nonresidential uses: 272,000 to 331,000
Affordable housing target: 80 percent to 150 percent AMI (area median income)
Permanently deed-restricted housing provided by developer: 20 percent (367 to 448 units)
Topography: Most slopes 5 percent to 15 percent, some 30 percent or more on bluffs and hillsides
“Village centers:” three to four stories
Open space: 221 acres (32 percent)
Trails: 10+ miles
Infrastructure cost: $103 million
Additional off-site automobile trips a day generated: 14,000
— Source: Steamboat 700 Initial Submittal, November 2007
Steamboat Springs — City Council sent a signal Tuesday night that the five or six potential deal-breakers in the possible annexation of Steamboat 700 have been overcome. Now, it’s time for city government and residents to dig into the details.
Council voted, 5-1, with councilwoman Meg Bentley dissenting, to approve a pre-annexation agreement for the proposed development that would add about 2,000 homes to 700 acres four miles outside the city limits.
“All we’ve agreed to do is move on to the main event,” Councilman Jon Quinn said. “It’s our opportunity to really engage the community in the dialogue.”
Steve Aigner of the Community Alliance urged Council to craft an air-tight agreement that will bind future unknown players on the public and private side of the development process.
The public hearings surrounding a full annexation agreement are the time for the community to seek answers to questions such as, “Will the developers be required to ensure a grocery store is developed in the West of Steamboat?” and, “Will they be required to help fund a new public school?” council members agreed.
The city’s consulting attorney, Jerry Dahl, reminded council members that the pre-annexation agreement is unique among Colorado municipalities. However, he said the process has been very useful in the case of Steamboat 700 as a means to work through issues that might have stopped the project later in the process.
“Given the size and impact of this project, we believe it should be used to address the deal killers,” Dahl said.
“What are the big issues around this project that if we can’t agree on, it’s pointless to go through a year of discussions of the details? In my opinion, they become the basic principles of the annexation.”
Those basic principles include:
■ A detailed understanding of the framework for discussions about the creation of zone districts and residential density in Steamboat 700. That language includes a provision for adequate land for commercial uses and possibly light industrial uses.
■ A restatement of the affordable housing benchmark of 20 percent deed-restricted affordable housing at an average of 80 percent of the area median income, plus the potential for extending increased density to the developer in exchange for more affordable housing.
■ Two 10-year intervals for vesting (making permanent) the approvals of the development plan with thresholds based on completion of affordable units.
■ An understanding of the requirements for developer financing of streets and utilities that meet the city’s goal of revenue neutrality
■ An understanding that Steamboat 700 would bear the cost of necessary consultants and studies related to topics such as traffic, visual impact analysis and U.S. Highway 40 environmental assessments. The developers also would bear the cost of city staff time.
Not all of the language in the pre-annexation agreement was agreeable to the developers.
Speaking for Steamboat 700, attorney Bob Weiss asked City Council to counteract language in the agreement that provides the city with the freedom to impose growth moratoriums on all projects under way in the city at a given time, including Steamboat 700. They hypothetically could be imposed in times of emergency if the city faced with inability to provide essential services. The agreement also includes language that allows the city to impose growth limits city wide in the form of limiting building permits issued annually, for example.
Weiss asked for language that protected Steamboat 700 from such constraints: “The city shall not impose any growth control or limitation regulations that would conflict with the vested rights granted by this agreement.”
Councilman Steve Ivancie stood firm on that matter.
“If I were in your shoes, I’d consider asking for that language, as well,” Ivancie said. “But put yourself in our shoes. We’re looking at what’s in best interests of city. In essence, this language is asking us to yield our control over growth, which I think is one of basic responsibilities of city. By agreeing to this language, we’re basically trading that responsibility away.
“I cannot in good conscience tie the hands of any council in the future and not look at the best interests of the city.”
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