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Council chooses business owners for commission

Avi Salzman

— The city’s main board charged with making decisions about Steamboat’s architecture has no architects on it.

Although the city was looking for an architect and an engineer for its Planning Commission, the City Council picked two business owners to take the two open spots. And with a development code supposedly meant to give professionals especially in the fields of architecture and design more of a voice in how the community looks, some architects and city officials are wondering how that goal will be accomplished.

“Council has consistently reassured the architecture community that one of their primary goals is to get more architects and design professionals on the Planning Commission,” said architect Katie Kiefer. “They had a perfect opportunity and they passed on it.”

An architect in the firm where Kiefer works Scott Myller was passed over for the slot on the commission.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer said she is happy to have the two new commissioners on board after a long selection process but did express concern over the fact that the commission did not have any architects. Meyer reminded the council of the makeup of the existing commission, which had recently lost an architect and an engineer, before voting. There is currently no requirement in the development code necessitating the city seat someone from any particular profession on the commission.

In the past, the city has allowed the Planning Commission and City Council to review architectural plans at the same time as they review mass and scale, parking requirements and other factors in a development permit. This year, however, the city decided to implement an Architectural Review Commission with the adoption of its new Community Development Code to try to separate the review of site plans and the review of architecture. The new commission, which is made up of Planning Commission members, was also meant to allow architects to have a say in the community’s architecture rather than having inexperienced people try to decipher the plans. The old process was criticized by some architects who wanted more knowledgeable people reviewing their work.

The City Council, which appoints the commissioners, picked the two new commissioners after interviews Oct. 9 to fill the slots of two departing commissioners. The group picked Randall Hannaway, the president of Colorado Group Realty, and Tracy Barnett, the co-owner of Mazzola’s, for the two open spots. Hannaway, who was not available for comment, will be acting as an alternate.

Barnett said she understands the concerns of the architects but believes she can represent the interests of the residents in regard to the look of the community.

“I certainly don’t have the experience as far as architecture and engineering,” said Barnett, “but I do know if something looks like it doesn’t fit in the community. I want the community to look cohesive.”

City Councilman Bud Romberg said the city does not necessarily need to have an architect on the Planning Commission.

“In my estimation the Planning Commission has done a reasonable job with what they have done so far,” he said.

Romberg said that if the architectural community really wanted to get an architect on the board, it should have had more people apply.

The voting was done by secret ballot so the council did not have the chance to get together and decide to make an effort to seat an architect, he said.

With the resignation of commissioner Ken Miller, the council will have another chance to seat an architect, Romberg added.


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