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City of Steamboat Springs set to review use of downtown motel as workforce housing

If you go

What: City of Steamboat Springs Planning Commission considers conditional use of downtown motel for workforce housing

When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26

Where: Citizens’ Meeting Room, Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs

— The short-term future of the Alpiner Lodge as a place for workforce housing on Steamboat’s main street will be under review Feb. 26 when the city of Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meets.

Principal planner Rebecca Bessey is expected to say that although her analysis determined that use of the downtown motel as a “dormitory” is inconsistent with zoning codes in the downtown commercial district, there are conditions under which she could recommend approval on a temporary basis.

Steamboat Today reported Jan. 23 that Alpiner owners Jon Wade and Chris Paoli, organized as 420 Lincoln, LLC, had been renting rooms in the motel to the Resort Group property management company. The Resort Group, which manages large numbers of vacation condominiums here, is in turn housing some of its employees under a rental agreement with the Alpiner that is set to expire April 15.



But the city says that’s not what it agreed to in October 2014. And now, the Alpiner, which ceased operating as a motel in 2013, is coming back through the city planning process for a second time in five months.

If you go

What: City of Steamboat Springs Planning Commission considers conditional use of downtown motel for workforce housing



When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26

Where: Citizens’ Meeting Room, Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs

In a report to Planning Commission for Thursday night’s meeting, Bessey wrote that city staff met several times with the Alpiner owners in 2013 and 2014 to discuss options for re-opening the hotel, and/or converting it to another use. She also describes how hotels and motels are actually a conditional use in the “Commercial Old Town” zoning district, which favors “retail, restaurant and other uses involving active or frequent interaction with the public on the ground floor” of buildings. While residential uses are encouraged downtown, it is preferred that they be located on the upper floors of buildings.

The Alpiner owners came to the city formally in October 2014 seeking to operate a portion of the property as a lodge, Bessey wrote in her recommendations to Planning Commission. Approval of that use was conditioned on the rooms not being rented long term and required that fewer than 20 rooms be rented on the first floor of the building only.

Late last year, Bessey wrote, the city became aware that no more than 20 rooms were likely being rented, and for long-term occupancy. On Jan. 12, a violation notice was sent to the owners giving them 15 days to respond. Planning staff and the owners met Jan. 29.

“The applicants acknowledged that more than 20 rooms were being leased to a local management company for seasonal employee housing,” Bessey wrote. “It was not being operated within the intent, definition or approval of a lodge, but rather the use is most similar to a dormitory.”

And dormitories are not permitted in the Old Town Commercial district.

In a letter to the city dated Feb. 2, Wade requested approval to use 30 rooms to house up to 50 occupants through April 30, 2016.

“420 Lincoln, LLC requests to utilize the Alpiner Motel to provide critical employee housing for resort businesses that are key to our local economy,” Wade wrote in a letter to Bessey, and added, “We request that city staff, county staff, Planning Commission and City Council recognize the need for uses that are a bit different than downtown zoning to adapt to these demonstrated community needs. This use exists in town, just not in the downtown, and we don’t feel that is a significant difference.”

He added that Resort Group, which has substantial expertise in the property management business, has been actively supervising the use and maintenance of the property.

Bessey also wrote that although “dormitories” are not permitted in the Old Town Commercial zone district, the community development code does allow temporary uses of buildings to be approved as a conditional use for a period of no more than two years. She is expected to tell the Planning Commission that, “While the proposed use is inconsistent with the criteria for approval, limiting the use to a very specific temporary time period may be acceptable.”

When reached by telephone Wednesday, Wade said, “Our hope is that we can work with the city to formalize something that’s good for the community.”

The matter also is scheduled for a March 17 hearing before City Council.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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