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County open to road financing

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City planning offices at 871-8258 for more information

— The Steamboat 700 development team received good, if unspecific, news Tuesday from Routt County commissioners, who said they are open to helping pay for improvements to U.S. Highway 40 within the boundaries of the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

How much money county government will contribute and where the money will come from, however, remains unclear. Attorney Bob Weiss – who represents the 508-acre development just west of Steamboat Springs’ city limits that proposes about 2,000 homes and is seeking annexation – said Steamboat 700 is committed to pay its pro rata share, estimated at 30 percent, for improvements that are expected to cost $56.8 million.

“We are not trying to escape from our obligations,” Weiss said.



Given existing deficiencies and the need for improvements with or without the development of Steamboat 700, Weiss said, it also is appropriate for the city and county to contribute. Steamboat 700’s suggestion is that the county commit use tax revenues generated within Steamboat 700 and the WSSAP boundaries to the U.S. 40 project.

“As far as using building use tax, I think that might be an appropriate use,” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. “I’m very willing to look at that. I think the percentage of use tax is what we need to talk about.”



Commissioners Doug Monger and Diane Mitsch Bush also said they are willing to participate.

“We have an obligation to pay for our fair share, and I’m all right with that,” Monger said.

The two did not wish to endorse the use of any specific tax revenues, however. Mitsch Bush noted that the county’s road and bridge reserves are on pace to be depleted in 2012.

“I guess, for me, I still need some more questions answered before I can think about whether to commit or not commit,” Mitsch Bush said. “That’s going to take awhile to talk about.”

Ultimately, the developers probably will require more specific answers from the county. John Eastman, planning services manager for the city, said the financing of all off-site improvements must be negotiated before annexation. The issue is just one of many unanswered questions facing the Steamboat Springs City Council, which Steamboat 700 developers hope will vote on annexation in July. In a memo prepared before Tuesday’s hearing with the commissioners, Routt County Assistant Planning Director Ellen Hoj said she empathizes with the frustration of all parties involved.

“It’s just taken a long time,” Hoj said Monday. “We haven’t even started thinking about building anything, and there’s people who need housing. : I’m glad Steamboat 700 is plugging forward, especially in this economy.”

The Steamboat 700 development team will go before the city Planning Commission on Thursday for a discussion of a target build-out for the area west of the city that includes Steamboat 700 and 360 Village, another project seeking annexation.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com


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