City council tables Steamboat 700 discussion, asks for more details on potential annexation
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council decided Tuesday to table discussions on Steamboat 700’s request to move forward with an annexation voters approved in June 2019.
The ballot measure that Steamboat residents supported annexed 191 acres of land west of the current city limits between the West Acres and Silver Spur neighborhoods north of U.S. Highway 40. Brynn Grey Partners was planning to develop West Steamboat Neighborhoods on the property.
According to the annexation agreement between West Steamboat Neighborhoods and the city, the developer was required to purchase the property from Steamboat 700 by Nov. 12, 2019. Steamboat 700 and West Steamboat Neighborhoods were unable to close the purchase. Details on why the agreement fell through have not been publicly explained by either party.
Steamboat 700 attorney Bob Weiss sent an email to City Council on Oct. 27 asking them to consider moving forward with the annexation on the same terms previously agreed to when council members voted to allow Brynn Grey to develop West Steamboat Neighborhoods on the property.
The seven members of the current council expressed mixed feelings about the proposal.
“We’ve had so many changes in our codes and life in the community, we can’t just pick up what was dropped off back then,” said council member Lisel Petis. “I have absolutely zero interest in putting this on a future agenda.”
Several members said the agreement with Brynn Grey was tailored specifically for them and could not simply be continued with a different developer.
“I am not in favor of simply transferring the Brynn Grey agreement,” council member Sonja Macys wrote in a letter to council that fellow council member Heather Sloop read in her absence. “We specifically designed it so it didn’t travel with the land.”
However, Weiss told the council Tuesday he believed the agreement should hold due to the fact that West Steamboat Neighborhoods never officially closed the deal.
“We thought that given all the work the council spent, it would be prudent for us to at least say that we’re willing to honor that agreement if the city would proceed with annexation,” he said. “If the city is looking to get housing in West Steamboat, we think that’s the best way to do it.”
Several council members also voiced concern about annexing the land because Steamboat 700 does not have a developer chosen to build the proposed housing.
“So much of our prior approval and the community vote had to do with a clear plan for development — a clear plan for somebody being in place who had done that kind of development in the past,” said Council President Jason Lacy.
Council member Robin Crossan echoed those concerns and said she is open to reconsidering annexation, but she wants more information on a developer before making any decisions.
“We spent a lot of time with one organization, and I feel that to just take it from one without knowing who the developer is would be the wrong thing for the community,” she said.
In an attempt to ease council’s concerns, Mark Fine, a managing partner with Steamboat 700, said the project needs a local developer, which his company would be careful to find.
“We don’t pretend to be the developer,” he said. “We’ve owned the property for 15 years, and we’d like to see it move forward. We’re very motivated to find the right developer and the right product that will create value for the whole Steamboat community.”
Council member Kathi Meyer said the annexation deserved to be placed on a future council agenda.
“I don’t care who pounds the nails, I’m interested in seeing housing happen,” she said. “I think this warrants at least a public discussion.”
“We need to do something on the west side of town,” added council member Michael Buccino, noting he would need more time and information on an annexation agreement.
Several members of the public also expressed concern about continuing the annexation with another entity.
“Bring a new ordinance back and start at square one,” Steamboat resident William Jameson told council. “This agreement is dead; there’s no basis to go forward,”
All council members said they are supportive of annexing and developing the area eventually.
“If this landowner is interested in moving ahead with potential annexation, they need to start the process, and they need to start pre-annexation discussions with our staff and go through the regular process like we did before,” Lacy said.
Weiss, in his letter to council on behalf of Steamboat 700, stated, “West Steamboat Neighborhoods has no further interest in the Steamboat 700 property.”
In a four-page letter West Steamboat Neighborhoods emailed to Lacy and members of the council prior to Tuesday’s council meeting, David O’Neal and Melissa Sherburne with Brynn Grey said they were still interested in pursuing the project.
“What happens next is entirely up to Steamboat 700,” they wrote. “If they want to reinstate the purchase and sale agreement, it would be up to council to decide whether to extend the annexation deadline. If those two things happen, we are ready to submit our plans to the city to begin construction next spring. If not, we will begin exploring other options to create much needed housing.”
They also wrote that they were “shocked” when they received a letter on June 1 from the Steamboat 700 attorney advising them the purchase and sale agreement was being terminated.
“We were not given a clear reason and cannot pinpoint a reason the negotiations halted,” Sherburne and O’Neil wrote. “Also, given the private nature of the negotiation, we have stayed quiet and have not communicated the details publicly.”
West Steamboat Neighborhoods had promised the construction of 450 homes built over the next 16 to 20 years in three separate neighborhoods.
Editor Lisa Schlichtman contributed to this article.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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