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Council considers growth commission

— The City Council said it would be willing to form a community-based commission to look at growth management tools.

The decision came last week during a joint meeting between the council and city Planning Commission, during which the boards discussed the draft of the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update. The council recommended putting an action step in the plan to form a commission. The group’s recommendation could be made after the final approval of the plan, so as not to delay implementing other directives in the plan.

The council said the committee should be appointed by elected officials and represent a broad spectrum of the community. If the commission is going to work, City Council President Kathy Connell said it would have to be a diverse and open-minded group.



“I am very excited about this idea to form an advisory committee. But we have got to cut out the pot shots. We have got to cut out the attitude. If we are going to collaborate, then we are going to have to be grown up about this,” she said.

The recommendation to form a community committee came from the Routt County Planning Commission during an Oct. 9 joint meeting with the city Planning Commission.



In July, the City Council and Board of County Commissioners removed from the plan a direction given by consultants Clarion Associates to institute a growth cap as one of several possible growth-management tools. As soon as the subsequent draft of the plan was released, residents were asking that the rate and timing mechanism be added back to it.

Council members emphasized that they would not want the growth commission’s discussion to delay approval of the plan and the group should have deadline set for making its recommendation.

“We need an end zone. We need to get there and keep moving,” Councilman Steve Ivancie said.

City planning commissioners also weighed in on the idea of forming a commission. Planning Commissioner David Baldinger Jr. said the commission is a step toward finding a way to handle growth.

“This is going to be a constant debated in mountain communities for decades. I think the community is trying to go to a short solution. It is really not that simple. It is complex,” Baldinger said.

The draft of the plan does have a number of growth-management tools in it, City Planning Director Steve Stamey said.

The plan recommends a monitoring system in which the city could look at the rate of growth, the jobs-to-housing ratio and the level of service for infrastructure and facilities as trigger points for implementing growth controls.

The plan also recommends allowing new development only in areas where it can be served adequately by public facilities and services. Other recommendations are for new development to pay its fair share of the costs associated with providing facilities and services, and to make sure it does not cause a reduction in the level or quantity of services.

Elected officials did worry that the community’s focus on growth has taken attention away from many of the other recommendations in the plan. Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer said the largest conflict in the plan draft was the consultant’s recommendation to keep Yampa Avenue open as a possible bypass for U.S. Highway 40, when others have seen the street as becoming more pedestrian friendly.

To be a bypass for U.S. 40, Yampa Avenue would have to be connected to 13th Street, which would put a road through Little Toots Park and could be in conflict with the Bud Werner Memorial Library expansion plan.

“This will be another giant that will jump us and bite us,” Connell said.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail at cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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