Housing plan takes another step | SteamboatToday.com

Housing plan takes another step

Planning Commission to discuss City Council ordinance changes

The More Barn sits along Pine Grove Road in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday. The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will review the community housing plan for Steamboat Barn Village at a meeting tonight.
Brian Ray

— Like April rain clouds over Steamboat Springs, the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance changes almost daily – but keeps moving forward.

Proposed revisions to the controversial ordinance, which regulates how the city provides affordable housing, will take another step in the public process tonight at a meeting of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, beginning at 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall on 10th Street.

The meeting also includes a review of the community housing plan for Steamboat Barn Village. It is a proposed subdivision including more than 90 housing units of various sizes on 64 lots. The development would be spread across a 39-acre site near Yampa Valley Medical Center and east of Pine Grove Road. In addition to the housing units, the proposal also includes a four-acre public park surrounding the More Barn, a historical structure that has been a local icon for decades.

The Steamboat Springs City Council approved the preliminary plat for the subdivision in December 2006, but did not act on the housing plan, which proposes 30 condominiums on the site’s Lot 63. The condominiums are intended to meet the subdivision’s affordable housing requirement and provide transitional housing for new hospital employees. Plans also call for a medical office building on a potentially re-zoned Lot 64.

In an April 18 report, city planner John Eastman wrote that the density of the two lots “is more intense than was anticipated,” and noted “additional time” could be needed to sort out logistical issues.

Review of the subdivision’s housing plan will give the Planning Commission a tangible example of issues involved with revising the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, which has recently drawn substantial public comment and debate.

The Planning Commission spent four hours on the ordinance April 12.

City planning director Tom Leeson said tonight, the Planning Commission will address several changes made to the ordinance by the City Council on April 17.

Primary among those changes is a clause that deems projects with current city approval will not be subject to new inclusionary zoning requirements or linkage fees. The latter require developers to compensate the city for housing needs generated by new employees at their development.

For example, Leeson said under the most current language in the ordinance, the massive Wildhorse Meadows development on Mount Werner Road would not be subject to any new requirements or linkage fees during the entirety of its 10-year building process.

But Leeson acknowledged the city’s affordable housing policies are still very much in flux.

“It is changing pretty quickly,” Leeson said of the ordinance. “The City Council is trying to respond to some degree to what they’re hearing from the public.”

The City Council will continue its first reading of the revised ordinance May 1, and could conduct a second and final reading May 15. Tonight’s meeting will bring the Planning Commission one step closer to submitting its recommendations to the council.

“The longer the ordinance is in the public process, I think at the end of the day, that results in a better ordinance,” Leeson said. “I think we’re making progress.”

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