‘Error’ in Brown Ranch plan sparks larger discussion over development’s eventual population | SteamboatToday.com

‘Error’ in Brown Ranch plan sparks larger discussion over development’s eventual population

The Brown Ranch will feature four neighborhoods, each with a mix of housing options ranging from single-family homes to large-scale apartment complexes.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct a type. If the persons per household was 2.34, it would equate to 5,298 residents.

While the number of units planned at the Brown Ranch — 2,264 — has been a headline number in the 167-page community development plan, the actual number of residents that are intended to live there isn’t as clear.

The only population reference in the document is a range of 6,895 to 7,590 given on pages 79 and 81, in a section related to parks amenities.

But on Wednesday, March 29, during the Brown Ranch Annexation Committee meeting, Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said that range is incorrect.

“We had an error in a couple sections of our plan that we missed in copy editing that identified a range of population that wasn’t actually accurate to the number of units that we were proposing,” Peasley said.

The error was noticed as city staff prepared presentations for Wednesday’s meeting, with one of those related to the parks space in the Brown Ranch and how it compares to current park space in the city on a per capita basis. Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter said several of the city’s assumptions while crafting the agreement have been based on the population number in the development plan.

“When this was discovered last week, this was a sea change, reducing the total build out population by a couple thousand people,” Suiter said. “We didn’t have time to go back and modify all the work that we did the previous week.”

Peasley said he felt the annexation committee needed to have a conversation about what the estimate of people per unit should be as they move forward crafting an annexation agreement.

“Our thought is, let’s utilize what the current (U.S. Census Bureau) data says on how many people per household we have,” Peasley said. “I want to make sure that we all agree on that number as we’re doing this analysis because it’s very fundamental to a lot of the metrics that are being utilized for parks, for police and fire.”

According to the Colorado State Demography Office, that number for 2021 in Steamboat Springs would be 2.32, which equates to 5,252 residents. That number is nearly 2,000 residents less than the midpoint of the range that appears in the plan that Peasley said was an error.

Numbers from the 2021 American Community Survey are slightly different, with average persons per household being 2.34, or 5,298 residents. On Page 129 of the Brown Ranch plan in a section about water usage, it gives an assumption of 2.5 people per household, or 5,660 residents.

City Council President Robin Crossan said council had not discussed what number per household they felt was appropriate, but that they did feel the initial number closer to 7,000 was appropriate.

“We think it’s going to be a friendly kid oriented community and people once they get there are not going to want to move out because I think it’s going to be a successful community,” Crossan said. “We’re thinking the 7,000 is really the number to be working toward.”

But Peasley and housing authority Board President Leah Wood noted that many of the units at the Brown Ranch will be smaller, such as a studio apartment, which would only accommodate one or two people, bringing the overall average down.

“At Sunlight (Crossings) we found a lot of 20 to 30 year old people really looking to rent by themselves without a roommate,” Wood said. “The hardest unit type for us to fill over there was the two-bedroom units.”

Suiter suggested they work to get more data and talk more about this number at the next annexation meeting planned for April 12. Before that talk he said he wanted to see what some national and Colorado numbers were, and whether the average persons per household figure is higher for workforce focused housing.

Peasley said he didn’t think it was that difficult of a calculation, they just needed to settle on a number that was fact based. He added that the fiscal analysis presented in the last meeting that will be continued on April 12 was based on the 2.32 number.

“There’s no argument about the volume of units that we intend to build,” Pealsey said. “It’s just a question of how many people per unit? What’s the multiplier? It’s a simple math question.

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