City Council set to again discuss future of Steamboat 700
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After years of back-and-forth discussions between Steamboat Springs City Council and developers, as well as two public votes, City Council will again discuss the potential annexation of property in West Steamboat owned by Steamboat 700 at its meeting Tuesday night.
Steamboat residents voted to approve the annexation of 191 acres of land west of the current city limits between the West Acres and Silver Spur neighborhoods north of U.S. Highway 40 in June 2019. Brynn Grey Partners was planning to develop West Steamboat Neighborhoods on the property — a project that promised the construction of 450 homes built over the next 16 to 20 years.
The annexation agreement between West Steamboat Neighborhoods and the city required the developer to purchase the property from Steamboat 700 by Nov. 12, 2019. Steamboat 700 and West Steamboat Neighborhoods were unable to close the purchase.
According to a letter from Steamboat 700 attorney Bob Weiss, which was sent to City Council on Oct. 27, the contractual relationship between Steamboat 700 and West Steamboat Neighborhoods terminated on June 1, and West Steamboat Neighborhoods has no further interest in the Steamboat 700 property.
And now, Steamboat 700 is asking City Council to consider moving forward with the annexation on the same terms and conditions as previously agreed and approved by the voters, according to the letter.
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On Tuesday, council will discuss next steps for the annexation process, including whether to continue the annexation without West Steamboat Neighborhoods or to discontinue the agreement altogether. According to city officials, no votes or final decision will be made Tuesday.
City Attorney Dan Foote and City Manager Gary Suiter are encouraging the council to continue discussion on the annexation, particularly to fulfill its goal of increasing the availability of affordable housing.
“Staff would recommend that terms of the annexation agreement … be reviewed in light of the termination of West Steamboat Neighborhood’s role in the annexation,” city staff wrote in a memo to council.
As for specific amendments to the agreement, staff is asking the council to consider several factors, including: the impacts COVID-19 have had on the community and how those change a potential development; discussions with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and the Steamboat Springs School District; a review of the previous land use recommendation due to the fact that almost two years have passed since the council and West Steamboat Neighborhood finalized the annexation agreement.
While council has the option to discontinue the project altogether, council members said they are interested in continuing the discussion because they see a need for more workforce housing in the city.
“I’m totally supportive of any type of housing that we can give our community,” council member Heather Sloop said. “I think in all reality, the housing has to be equitable and fair for the community we’re trying to serve.”
While Sloop said she is ultimately supportive of moving forward, she believes Steamboat 700 has left council with “a lot of unanswered questions,” starting with who the developer will be since Brynn Grey dropped out.
Sloop also believes Steamboat 700 should have an income cap to qualify for affordable housing and has concerns about transportation and traffic.
City Council President Jason Lacy shared Sloop’s concerns and said council’s discussion Tuesday should just be the first step of what will inevitably be a long process.
“This has obviously been a big issue that this community and us have worked on for a long time, so it didn’t feel appropriate for us to just make the call to schedule an item like that (for action or a vote),” he said.
While the discussion will revolve mainly around annexation, Lacy said more discussions would have to take place before any developments could be built.
“Annexation just basically converts it from county property to city property,” Lacy said. “Even if someone gets to a point of annexation, they still have to go through a whole planning process to start building subdivisions.”
Lacy also said he is hesitant to move forward until Steamboat 700 provides more information on a potential developer.
“I think it’s just a lot of questions we’d have to know before I’d want to schedule it for further hearings,” he said.
In 2010, city voters denied Steamboat 700’s annexation by a 20% margin. Developers were proposing to build about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space.
The “no” vote came three years after Steamboat 700 closed on the $25 million purchased 540 acres of land owned by Steve Brown and Mary Brown for $25 million. The voters’ decision overturned Steamboat Springs City Council’s approval of the Steamboat 700 annexation.
More information about West Steamboat Neighborhoods can be found at steamboatpilot.com/news/annexation.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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