Council OKs hangar permit
Legal issues still must be worked out
Steamboat Springs — The City Council approved a development permit for 11 new airplane hangars at Steamboat Springs Airport Tuesday night by a vote of 5 to 1.
The city owns the land where the hangars will be placed and will lease it to a developer from Denver, potentially for as long as 40 years. The lease agreement with the builders was tabled until Feb. 5 to work out some legal issues, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said.
The city’s decision to go forward with the hangars, though it comes at no risk to the city budget, is a sign that it will give support to keeping the airport a general aviation facility.
“We have publicly stated as a group that we are interested in the viability of the airport and in order for that to occur there needs to be additional revenue,” City Councilman Bud Romberg said. “It seems to me that this is one way to deal with that.”
Councilman Steve Ivancie was the lone holdout on the development permit, saying he thinks the city has not received enough public input about moving ahead with new construction at the airport.
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“I would feel more comfortable if there was more community input,” Ivancie said after no one spoke up during public comment on the issue.
For the past few months, the city has dealt with challenges to its vision for the direction of the airport, which lost commercial service in 1995. The city was criticized heavily for the debt taxpayers still pay on the unused $2.8 million terminal at the airport. Some community members even brought up the idea of either closing the facility down or changing the use of the facility. While discussions about potentially sharing some space near the airport with another user such as a race track continue, the City Council has made a commitment not to close the airport and to try to coax some cash out of what they currently have.
The city and county are also looking into creating an airport authority that could own and manage both Steamboat Springs Airport and Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
Dunn Properties out of Denver wants to construct the hangars in four buildings totaling 31,464 square feet. The company anticipates starting construction in March or April.
The airport is attempting to pull itself out of the red and become economically self-sufficient. It is currently subsidized by the city to the tune of more than $100,000 per year in operations.
The city estimates that new hangars would bring in about $60,000 from ground lease payments and fuel sales from the city-owned fixed-base operator fuel center once planes begin to inhabit the hangars.
The city has a waiting list 45 names long for spots in a hangar. Many operators who use their planes as often as every other day have to park them outside, where they can become covered in ice or snow, Airport Manager Matt Grow said.
“A lot of people would love to be in a hangar,” said Susan McAllister, the co-owner of Steamboat Soaring Adventures. “Both locals and visitors are going to really benefit.”
The biggest obstacle to developing the hangars is the fact that the site is well below developable grade in some places. At points, the site is 15 feet below the level the developers need, meaning they will have to bring in about 30,000 cubic yards of fill from another site.
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