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‘A historic document’

Council reaches home stretch with housing policy

The Fox Creek development on Hilltop Parkway, shown here, is the largest affordable housing project created by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. The Steamboat Springs City Council will conduct a public review of proposed revisions to the city's affordable housing policies tonight at Centennial Hall.
John F. Russell

— Tonight is one of the last chances for Steamboat Springs residents to comment on proposed revisions to the city’s affordable housing policies, which could increase financial requirements for developers and regulate how the city provides housing for its growing workforce.

“This is a very historic document,” Steamboat Springs City Councilman Ken Brenner said Monday. “I think it is hands down the most comprehensive legislation this City Council has seen.”

At tonight’s City Council meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at Centennial Hall on 10th Street, a first reading of proposed revisions to the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance is on the council’s consent agenda – usually reserved for items requiring no discussion and quick council approval.



But City Councilman Towny Anderson said quick approval will not be the case for the inclusionary ordinance.

“I’m sure that there are going to be questions and things that folks will like to see discussed, if not modified,” Anderson said.



A review of the ordinance drew an hour of public comment at a meeting of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission last week.

The City Council has discussed how to address the city’s affordable housing needs for months, including several meetings with regional housing consultants and local developers during the winter.

Throughout the process, a housing tool known as linkage has been central to the debate.

Linkage requires residential and commercial developers to pay the city a fee for a percentage of the market-rate housing units or employees created by their new development.

Linkage policies in the revised housing ordinance primarily assess a 15 percent “mitigation rate” to developers. Anderson said an April 2006 study – prepared for the city by housing consultants Melanie Rees and RRC, Associates – states that not only is linkage a vital housing tool, but several Colorado resort communities use much higher mitigation rates than 15 percent.

A resolution to formally accept the study is on tonight’s council agenda.

Last week, the Planning Commission debated whether the city should implement linkage at all, citing potential impacts to future development and expansion projects. Commission member Cari Hermacinski said that if the proposed linkage policy applied to the approved, $11.4 million expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library, a conservative calculation shows that library officials would need to pay the city a linkage fee of more than $643,000.


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