Annexation committee settles on new Brown Ranch population estimate |

Annexation committee settles on new Brown Ranch population estimate

The Brown Ranch will feature four neighborhoods, each with a mix of housing options ranging from single-family homes to large-scale apartment complexes.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

The Brown Ranch Annexation Committee has settled on a population estimate of 6,113 people to live at the development, though they emphasized that doesn’t mean the project will grow Steamboat Springs’ population by that much.

The population estimate became important when city staff found an error in the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s development plan that estimated between 6,895 and 7,590 people would live there.

The housing authority said that was an erroneous number and suggested the committee use an estimate of 2.32 people per household to estimate total population. That number is based on the average household size in Steamboat.

But during an executive session on Tuesday, April 11, Steamboat Springs City Council landed on a higher estimate of 2.7 people per household. When extrapolated out for the 2,264 units planned at Brown Ranch, the population estimate would be 6,113. The committee emphasized that this is a conservative estimate and not expected to be an exact population for the Brown Ranch, which will take 20 years to fully build out.

Jason Peasley, executive director of the housing authority, said he didn’t have an issue with the 2.7 estimate council had settled on.

He also said the goal of the Brown Ranch is to create housing that allows residents struggling to afford housing in Steamboat and are contemplating leaving the Yampa Valley to stay in Steamboat. If more families can stay, Steamboat’s average people per household would naturally increase, Peasley said.

“We’re comfortable with it being higher than the current number because we think that’s sort of a natural outcome of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Peasley said. “To try to maintain that character of Steamboat that we all cherish, which is a real town and people trying to raise their families here.”

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The annexation committee reviewed a number of sources before making a decision, including data from the Colorado State Demographer’s Office, the American Community Survey, household sizes already living in housing authority properties and the 2.7 number that the housing authority had been using in a water demand analysis.

The city also had its own economic consultant conduct an analysis that broke things down based on the type of units planned for Brown Ranch.

This analysis actually came in at 2.22 persons per household — a lower number than Steamboat’s current average. That base data used was from Summit and Eagle counties though, not Routt County, said Steamboat Principal Planner Brad Calvert.

“Those places are further along the trail of losing all of their workforce,” Peasley said. “For us, the most important thing is that we agree upon something that we all believe in and that it fits the efforts that we’re trying to accomplish.”

The population assumptions are important when considering both the expenses delivering services to Brown Ranch as well as what revenues it will bring in. Population has come up through a variety of conversations during the annexation process, including parks space, police and fire services and the fiscal analysis in general.

But while 6,113 people may be able to live at the Brown Ranch, annexation committee members emphasized that the estimate does not mean the development will increase Steamboat’s population by that number.

“The major takeaway from this is that Brown Ranch will not increase the city’s population by 6,000 people,” said City Manager Gary Suiter.

The initial fiscal analysis for the development showed that for every 100 units built, 51 of those would be filled by people who work locally but do not currently live in Steamboat. By that math, the development would add about 3,118 people. 22 of every 100 units is expected to be filled by residents who are currently in a doubled up living situation.

Steamboat City Council President Robin Crossan noted that the number was far less than numbers thrown around during the campaign against passing the city’s new short-term rental tax.

“That’s one of the main comments we had heard early on was, we don’t need 7,000 new people in our community,” Crossan said. “That message needs to go out really loud and clear that 49% of the folks are already here. Their cars are already here, their kids are already here, the dogs, the cats and everything else. We’re trying to make their quality of life better.”

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