Housing decision on hold | SteamboatToday.com

Housing decision on hold

Council delays action on design standards for affordable units

Brandon Gee

— The possibility of relaxed design standards for affordable housing is a debate for another day, the Steamboat Springs City Council decided Tuesday.

The council unanimously passed an ordinance adopting design standards and entry corridor concepts for commercial, mixed-use and multifamily developments outside the mountain base and downtown areas after little discussion Tuesday. At the ordinance’s first reading, council members Scott Myller and Cari Hermacinski discussed amending the standards to relax the requirements for affordable housing projects, but on Tuesday, the council decided to revisit the affordable component at a later date.

Hermacinski has said relaxing design standards for affordable projects will encourage their construction and better address the city’s affordable housing crisis, but some fear relaxed standards would make affordable housing stick out and negate attempts at socioeconomic integration.

Hermacinski said the relaxed standards would only apply to people building affordable housing from the ground up and not developers who are required by the city’s affordable housing ordinances to build it along with higher-end projects.

During public comment Tuesday, Steamboat resident Bill Jameson cautioned against such an approach.

“I think you need to think very carefully about setting up double standards for affordable housing based on who the applicant is,” he said.

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New Victory deal

Also Tuesday, City Council passed two ordinances related to the acquisition of rights of way for the New Victory Highway. The yet-to-be-built road is intended to provide parallel capacity to U.S. Highway 40 for future development in the west Steamboat area. The deal approved Tuesday between the city and the owners of the West Acres Ranch parcel has been under negotiation for about two years.

The deal essentially requires the city to pay $200,000 for two right-of-way parcels, three construction easements and other considerations. The deal waives certain requirements of the municipal code for the West Acres Ranch subdivision and requires the city to construct a park, fencing and landscaping improvements. The deal also requires the city to waive its right to require West Acres Ranch to contribute to the cost of the highway’s construction.

Liquor board split

Also Tuesday, the City Council approved an ordinance dividing the local Liquor License Authority into two divisions: administrative and compliance. The council will continue to serve as the administrative division that approves new licenses, but the city will hire a hearing officer on a contractual basis to review all liquor violations and failed compliance checks.

The ordinance is in response to liability concerns and creates an arrangement similar to those in other Colorado communities such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Glenwood Springs.

Hermacinski, who spearheaded the proposal to remove council from the licensing business, hopes the city will go even further and remove itself from administrative duties as well. Council members will consider that proposal some time in the future, once city staff has had time to gather more information and prepare an ordinance.