Down memory lane |

Down memory lane

City Council reflects on youth during housing discussion

— The last time Steamboat Springs City Council members Ken Brenner and Loui Antonucci both lived at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, a new fad called “disco” blared on radios.

The long local history of Steamboat’s City Council members came to the forefront of a housing discussion Tuesday night, eventually guiding a decision by the council to increase the amount of affordable housing at the ski base.

The council approved the development plan for One Steamboat Place, a large residential and commercial development to be constructed on about four acres next to the gondola building and AprÃs Ski Way. But the council rejected the housing plan for One Steamboat Place, asking the Carbondale-based firm Timbers Company to revise its plan and include more on-site affordable housing in the project.

The council did not accept the $418,000 payment “in lieu” of providing housing on-site proposed by Timbers Company. City attorney Tony Lettunich said the council could only consider such a payment if “disturbances” to full-time housing units from short-term rentals and short-term vacation units could not be mitigated.

In other words, Timbers Company could only pay the city to build affordable housing off-site if the council decided that factors such as noisy vacationers, late-night snowmaking machines and tourist-oriented amenities would make the ski base unlivable for full-time, local residents at One Steamboat Place.

But at one time or another, nearly every council member has lived at the ski base.

“Ken, you and I lived up on the mountain back in the ’70s,” Antonucci said to Brenner, and to the entire meeting room at Centennial Hall. “Back then, we were the problem, and the question was: ‘How do you mitigate us?’ But the world has changed. Probably the discussion now should be: ‘What exactly are the disturbances?'”

While Antonucci said that noise and foot traffic would make it “hard to integrate (affordable housing) in a building like this,” some council members disagreed and said the ski base still is a desirable living location for young, working residents.

“The world hasn’t changed – it’s us that’s changed,” council member Kevin Kaminski said.

Margaret Berglund of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley told the council that in an informal survey of local young workers, she heard widespread support for living at the ski base.

“Everyone I talked to felt that (the ski base) is an appropriate space for affordable housing,” Berglund said.

In the unanimous vote against the housing plan, council members agreed with a “partial mitigation” plan initially proposed by council member Paul Strong, asking Timbers Company to include some of the 14 required affordable units on-site, and build the rest off-site rather than pay the city for land or construction. The development includes a total of 85 residential units, five of which are designated as employee housing.

Timbers Company executives and project staff will meet with council members Tuesday to discuss housing plan revisions.

After approving the development plan for One Steamboat Place, council members credited Timbers Company for the strength and quality of its proposal, continued willingness to work with city staff, and diligence in addressing a building site in a highly public area with numerous logistical challenges.

“We probably don’t spend nearly enough time on the merits of this project,” Brenner said.

Timbers Company President David Burden said that in seeing One Steamboat Place succeed, the company has the same goals as the city.

“Our goal is vitality – we want the properties to be occupied,” Burden said.

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