City Council hopes to reach final terms on West Steamboat annexation agreement
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council members and developers with Brynn Grey Partners hope to conclude negotiations on a pre-annexation agreement that would see three neighborhoods developed west of the city’s current boundary.
The neighborhoods would be developed in an area between Downhill Drive and the Silver Spur neighborhood.
“I think there’s a commitment on behalf of several council members that we stay in the room with Brynn Grey tomorrow night until we come to an agreement on concepts that are still, as of today, unresolved,” said Council President Pro-Tem Kathi Meyer. “We have a sense of urgency that we want to come up with the best possible annexation proposal for our community. We’ve been working on this two years and 20 meetings. It’s time that we finish the agreement.”
Melissa Sherburne, Brynn Grey managing partner, echoed Meyer’s hopes to walk out of the meeting tomorrow night agreeing on what will be presented in the final pre-annexation document.
“We’ve hit every issue from water to sewer to open space to sustainability and feel like this is a complete package,” Sherburne said. “We just look forward to this final direction.”
Should the two groups come to a consensus, developers will present a final pre-annexation agreement to City Council in the coming months. Council will have the opportunity to vote on the finalized agreement, and if passed, the annexation will occur.
Four discussion points remain between the city and developers.
• Deed restrictions — Current deed restrictions in the draft agreement would limit occupation of housing units to people who work a minimum of 30 hours per week in Routt County and would prohibit renting units for periods shorter than six months. The restrictions are intended to prevent a portion of the homes from being used as vacation homes. Council will discuss additional restrictions that would place an appreciation cap or income requirement on some units intended to create affordable and attainable housing for locals.
• Width of rights of way — Brynn Grey and the city use different standards for the width of streets. This disagreement will likely be addressed in later planning and zoning documents, according to the staff report associated with the annexation discussion.
• Open spaces and riparian corridors — Council will consider more detailed language regarding the number of parks, natural and open spaces in the development. Brynn Grey included additional details about parks, natural areas and the protection of riparian corridors within the development after hearing concern from some council members.
• School — The draft agreement includes a 12-acre donation of land to the Steamboat Springs School District. Brynn Grey has been discussing the donation with the school district, but city staff flagged the item for discussion to see if council wanted to play a role in the negotiation.
The concept that will likely see the most discussion are deed restrictions on 158 units within one neighborhood in the development.
“Ultimately, it’s going to be a discussion between City Council, not necessarily City Council and the developer, to decide what’s the best way to make sure that affordable housing is going to occur in the development,” said council member Lisel Petis.
Petis said the main reason she supports the annexation is because it would bring more affordable housing to Steamboat.
Her primary concern is that the cost of the housing will not be sold at an attainable price, or it will not remain attainable when the first owners of a home choose to sell it.
Council will discuss at least two options. An appreciation cap would limit the price appreciation of the unit over time. An income requirement would require that individuals renting or purchasing a unit would fall within a certain income bracket. The Yampa Valley Housing Authority has said it does not support economic restrictions on units in the development, including restrictions based on income, assets or debt to income ratios.
The board of directors of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley has expressed other concerns about the deed-restricted units. According to the city’s 2006 West Steamboat Springs Area Plan, 20 percent of units must be permanent affordable housing for eligible households.
“The total number of units doesn’t seem to match that in the first place,” said Richard Levy, a member of the Community Alliance board. “Those units are meant to serve a population with a specific income of 80 percent or less than (the area median income), so if the units that they’re selling are claiming that they’re affordable or attainable, there’s no guarantee that the people that buy them are going to be the group of our residents that are being targeted by the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan— those people making a certain amount of money.”
Levy worries that these homes would go to the highest bidder.
“No matter what Brynn Grey’s intentions are, we can’t see them turning down more money for a home,” he said.
Diane Brower, another member of the Community Alliance board, outlined other issues the group has with the current annexation agreement. The board is worried that locals-only deed restrictions will not create affordable and attainable housing. The group is also concerned affordable rental units will not fulfill community member’s desires to purchase affordable single-family homes.
“We hear their concerns. We share in their concerns,” Sherburne said. “We believe we achieved the intent of the (West Steamboat Springs Area Plan) and the vision of the (West Steamboat Springs Area Plan) for locals housing on the west side of Steamboat with our unit mix. That’s really what we’re dedicated to.”
She said Steamboat prides itself in its families and children, and that is at risk due to lack of housing in the area. She added that Brynn Grey allocated 35 percent of the total development to housing for locals.
“That will be deed-restricted housing across a range of unit types and price points, all within the entry-level and move-up price point identified by the housing working group,” she said.
Council anticipates the discussion with Brynn Grey will last about two and a half hours, according to the meeting agenda.
“We really need people’s input,” Petis said. “If people feel passionately one way or the other about this project, they need to come talk to us— whether it’s via email or actually coming down to the meeting (Tuesday). We do our best work when we have the most community input.”
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