Controversial cut-through street to be addressed by City Council

Residents cheer a nearby housing project, but resist a connecting road they feel would be dangerous

A rendering for the More Ranch Community Housing project shows a cut-through street on the southeast side of the development, which leads to the hospital.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

On Monday, June 20, Steamboat Springs City Council will take up a proposed development that has drawn the ire of nearby residents.

As proposed, the More Ranch Community Housing project near the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and Barn Village would create 21 dwelling units of employee housing for city and hospital employees. However, some residents in the Barn Village subdivision are in an uproar over a cut-through road they feel could make their neighborhood unsafe.

After a failed vote to postpone the decision, the planning commission approved the project 5-2 with a handful of conditions on June 9.

Under the current plan, More Ranch would be accessed through either Angel’s View Way or Twilight Lane, with a connection to the western parking lot of the hospital. 

During the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission’s meeting on June 9, Barn Village residents spoke out against paving over Access Road C, which is part of creating a terminus connecting the Barn Village, More Ranch and the hospital.

“I’m very concerned about somebody going 55 miles per hour through that street to the ER and killing one of our kids,” said Diego Girard, who lives just a block away from the proposed More Ranch site. 

Steamboat Fire Marshal Doug Schaffer explained the reasoning behind the cut-through, saying that according to the fire code, subdivisions with more than 35 lots require at least two access roads, and they must be set apart from one another at a distance that is at least half the diagonal length of the entire subdivision.

According to Steamboat Springs Senior Planner Toby Stauffer, developments are also required by the city’s development code to provide multimode connections to adjacent properties and facilities, creating an “interconnected multimode circulation system.”   

The More Ranch project is being managed by both the city and UCHealth, which would split the costs of paving the access road. The city and UCHealth each own half of the lot where the housing project would be built. 

The need for a traffic study was waived because one was done in 2007 at that same location for a similar community housing project. That project was never completed but was originally part of the Barn Village development plan.

John Roesink, retired vice president of Development Planning and Geoscience for Jagged Peak Energy, disagreed with the city’s assessment.

“The first iPhone was released Jan. 9, 2007,” Roesink said. “Does a traffic study completed in 2007 take into account the impact of mapping applications like Google Maps and Waze routing traffic through what those software packages perceive as a through-going route?”  

Roesink continued, saying it is “offensive” to the members of his community to cite a traffic study “of that vintage.” 

However, Emrick Soltis, civil engineer for the city and public works, offered a counterpoint, saying it’s unlikely that the assumptions would change from then until now.

“I’m not 100% on that, but it’s very unlikely,” he said.

Stauffer said the plan includes the current trail connections, more sidewalks and an elevated walkway that could alleviate traffic impact.  

The planning commissioners discussed the issue at length, and a motion to table their decision failed 3-4 before commissioners approved the project 5-2. The approval included a condition to install additional traffic calming measures such as “no thru-street” signs to inform the public that access between Barn Village and the hospital is restricted to emergencies only. 

Because the More Ranch Community Housing Project is a joint project between the city and UCHealth, it is uncertain how the costs for the additional signage would be split between the two entities.

The issue has been added to Monday’s agenda for City Council.

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