County moves to approve six-lot subdivision, city objects
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted 2-0 Tuesday, Jan. 17 to approve the new six-lot Fox Grove subdivision in the Huckleberry Lane neighborhood off Fish Creek Falls Road, over the objections of the city of Steamboat Springs and with Commissioner Doug Monger absent.
However, the matter won’t be finalized, and the final plat won’t be filed, until Jan. 31 when county officials and the developer’s team hash out the details of how a developer’s fee in lieu of creating public benefit will be resolved.
Developer William Friesell’s 5.7-acre Fox Grove parcel, which is just outside the city limits off Fish Creek Falls Road, would create six lots ranging in size from .69 to .91 acres on a parcel mostly covered with aspen trees.
Fox Grove would be wrapped on three sides by existing homes, many in the Huckleberry Lane neighborhood, which is a bit of an anomaly in the county. Motorists passing by on the way to Fish Creek Falls could easily mistake it for being part of the city. The neighborhood is also unusual in that it is served by city water in spite of the fact that it’s in the county.
The vote in favor of the subdivision by commissioners Cari Hermacinski and Tim Corrigan came after they heard city senior planner Bob Keenan state his department’s opinion that the new subdivision plan should not be approved. Keenan cited the fact that Friesell’s development property is within the Urban Growth Boundary, making it subject to city approval.
“It isn’t in conformance with the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and shouldn’t be approved,” Keenan said.
Rather, he said, the subdivision should first come through the the city’s annexation process under the terms of the UGB and go through the city planning process.
The city’s stance had previously been taken by Routt County Planning Commissioner Andrew Benjamin in a Dec. 15, 2016, vote, when he was one of two dissenters who opposed approval of the Fox Grove permit.
Planning Commission voted to OK the Fox Grove plan, but the minutes reflect that Benjamin cast a “no” vote because he believed approving the plan did not “respect the intergovernmental agreement regarding the UGB and the Area Community Plan,” nor the county’s master plan and zoning regulations.
County Manager Tom Sullivan told the Board of Commissioners that in his opinion the permit application wasn’t “close enough” for final approval.
Hermacinski rejected Keenan’s stance and made a motion to approve the subdivision.
“I know (annexation) is stated in the plan, but this is an infill project. To insist on it now is bordering on ridiculous,” she said. “This is an infill parcel. It’s a piece in a puzzle. We know the city has no incentive to annex, because there’s no property tax benefit.
“Of everything we’ve learned from the UGB, infill is the name of the game in this community,” Hermacinski continued. “I don’t want to say that in any way that offends the city or city staff. I think there’s a movement in our community to look at a paradigm change, and I think this six-lot subdivision makes all the sense in the world.”
Corrigan, who had been close to letting Hermacinski’s motion die for lack of a second, was persuaded to add his “yes” vote.
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