First Brown Ranch annexation town hall expected later this month |

First Brown Ranch annexation town hall expected later this month

Effort hopes to spur more public participation in the process to draft an annexation agreement

Longtime Routt County resident Dan Hebard, with a walking cane, was among the crowd of people who showed up Oct. 6 to see how the Yampa Valley Housing Authority plans to develop affordable housing at the Brown Ranch property west of Steamboat Springs. Last week, the Brown Ranch Annexation Committee approved its outreach plan, which hopes to get broader input from the community on annexation.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The first town hall about Brown Ranch annexation into Steamboat Springs is expected to take place later this month, after the annexation committee approved the outreach plan last week.

The plan is a hybrid of initial approaches from the city and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, and hopes to get broader outreach about the community’s thoughts on annexation that may not be addressed during public comment of Brown Ranch Annexation Committee meetings.

“This is a significant change to the city of Steamboat Springs,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the housing authority. “It’s a responsibility of ours as stewards of this community to be reaching out very proactively to the community to educate them and get their feedback.”

The committee approved spending up to $49,500 on this process, which will include town hall meetings, proactive outreach to various community groups and translation of materials about annexation to spur feedback from non-English speakers.

The process is similar to outreach efforts the housing authority conducted during the Brown Ranch planning process, which got feedback from roughly a quarter of Steamboat Springs’ residents. Sheila Henderson and Robin Schepper, who were both involved with that process, are being hired in a consultant role to conduct this outreach with city Communications Manager Mike Lane.

“We wanted to share information throughout this process, we wanted to make all the materials easy to find, (and) to make public comment seamless,” Lane said during last week’s annexation committee meeting.

Members of the public have sparsely attended the meetings so far, and only a handful have chosen to make public comment during the meetings. Lane said there hasn’t been much feedback through other channels at this point either, though he expected more as the committee further delves into annexation in the coming months.

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Schepper said last week they were aiming for the third or fourth week in March for the first town hall meeting, though Lane indicated on Tuesday, March 7, that a date hadn’t been chosen yet. The town hall would likely be held at two different times on the same day, with afternoon and evening sessions. Henderson said the housing authority had roughly 250 people attend each of their presentations about Brown Ranch, referring to forums in October and January 2022.

“If it’s possible to have some city staff and (housing authority) staff kind of redoing highlights of water, sewer, wastewater, transit, streets, whatever we’ve talked about,” Schepper said. “So that we’re not just presenting to the community the final annexation agreement, but we’re bringing them along in the process.”

While the outreach plan was unanimously approved by the committee on Wednesday, March 1, City Council President Robin Crossan said she was concerned about what she considered a high price for the work. In the motion to approve, Crossan asked that this work not exceed $49,500 for work through the end of July.

Crossan pointed to an article in Steamboat Pilot & Today about the committee’s work so far as informing the community without any spending, but YVHA Board President Leah Wood noted the committee wants feedback from people who don’t read the newspaper or participate in traditional public comment opportunities.

“Maybe they don’t have time to read the newspaper or don’t have online access,” Wood said. “I think if we’re really trying to get a broad swath of community support, I think in some shape we need to have these additional outreach meetings.”

Council member Joella West suggested the committee hold this first meeting later this month, assess turnout and see what changes to the plan may need to be made, a point YVHA board member Kathi Meyer agreed with.

“Let’s do a March meeting and then circle back,” Meyer said.

The next Brown Ranch Annexation Committee meeting is slated for 9 a.m. March 15 in Centennial Hall.

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