Diane Brower: Brynn Grey proposal does not meet ‘spirit’ of West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan
September 17, 2018
There’s more than a little bit of smoke and mirrors these days in City Council discussions on the proposed Brynn Grey West of Steamboat annexation and the topics of affordable housing, deed restrictions and the inclusionary zoning ordinance.
I’m not sure if this is due to basic lack of knowledge about how for-purchase affordable housing has been built in other Colorado communities. It may be due to an ideological refusal to make the hard choices that those other Colorado communities have made to produce successful for-purchase affordable housing programs.
I've heard from many sources with experience in affordable housing and people who've observed the political workings of Steamboat Springs City Councils over the years, that decisions in our town are more subject to the influence of the development and real estate communities than other jurisdictions who have produced for-purchase single-family affordable homes.
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, City Council will vote on the pre-annexation agreement for the Brynn Grey proposal. In the City Council packet for the meeting, the city's attorney interprets the implications of "shall" and "may.” It’s not clear how the original wording of the Community Development Code, which used "shall" has become "may," allowing for a looser interpretation of the criteria for annexation. Such a major change usually requires a clear review process.
Also in the packet, Brynn Grey’s attorney from the Front Range is trying to help us understand how to interpret "the spirit of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan." For an attorney who isn't familiar with our community to interpret the intention of the West of Steamboat Area Plan is inappropriate to say the least.
A substantial proportion of people in our city and county took part in giving input on the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. I’d say that we know quite well what "the spirit of the WSSAP" was.
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The primary justification for potential annexation of the West of Steamboat area was that it provide a substantial amount of housing that meets specific criteria for affordability for the working people of Steamboat Springs. The cost of the annexation to the city for extension of city services to that area was to be balanced by public benefit in the form of affordable homes that would be built there.
If City Council's trajectory on the Brynn Grey annexation continues as it's been going, it doesn't look like we will get either real affordable housing in the range of $220,000 to $320,000 or much in the way of public benefit. The affordable homes that were envisioned in the area plan were to be primarily single-family homes, not apartments. Yet the City Council seems to be willing to approve this annexation, which, according to the city's own numbers, will be at a cost of $30 million dollars over 16 years.
I think it's time for the City Council to acknowledge that the Brynn Grey annexation proposal does not meet the "spirit" or the letter of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. If the City Council can't negotiate a better deal, then it's time to put the annexation to a public vote to find out whether their deal is acceptable to the community.
If you agree that this annexation proposal needs to go to a community vote, you can attend the City Council session on Tuesday evening or send your comments to the City Council at steamboatsprings.net/FormCenter/City-Council-19/City-Council-Contact-Form-103.