Judge affirms City Council’s decision to approve hotel on Pine Grove Road
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The 14th Judicial District Court has ruled in favor of Steamboat Springs City Council’s decision to approve a conditional use, development plan and variance for a hotel project on Pine Grove Road.
“It’s good to see that the court affirmed our due process and also our community development code,” Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter said Monday. “Oftentimes, you’ll see when you go through a challenge like this, there might be some changes that a city needs to make in its due process or in its land-use code, and this is nice to see that they’ve been affirmed by the court.”
City Council’s Feb. 5 decision to approve the development plan for the 110-room Residence Inn by Marriott project, on a 2.7-acre piece of property at Pine Grove Road and Rollingstone Drive, was challenged in a lawsuit filed March 5 by Steamboat Citizens for Responsible Growth, Inc. City Council and Cypress 16 LLC, the project developers, were listed as respondents in the lawsuit.
District Court Judge Michael O’Hara reviewed the case and issued his ruling Dec. 27.
“Having carefully reviewed the record, arguments of counsel and applicable authorities, the court finds City Council did not abuse its discretion by denying petitioner procedural due process,” O’Hara wrote in his decision. “City Council did not abuse its discretion by adopting and incorporating by reference the staff report into its resolution approving the developer’s application. City Council did not abuse its discretion by misapplying the law.
“Therefore, the court affirms the decision of the Steamboat Springs City Council in adopting City Council’s Resolution No. 2019-08 dated February 5, 2019, approving respondent developer’s application for a conditional use, development plan and variance,” O’Hara concluded.
The ruling allows the project to proceed.
Suiter said Steamboat Citizens for Responsible Growth Inc. could still appeal the decision.
“I have not had a chance to talk with the clients,” said attorney Rich Tremaine, which is representing Steamboat Citizens for Responsible Growth Inc. “The petitioners are reviewing the decision and have not yet made a decision as to whether to seek reconsideration or an appeal.”
Suiter said the city was happy with the court’s decision, but his staff is listening to the concerns of residents and has taken steps to make sure the planning process is more transparent. The big change, which goes into effect Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, is that developers will need to post a sign on the property no more than seven days after they have submitted a development application.
“It’s going to front-load that signposting, so it goes up when they submit the application,” said Planning and Community Development Director Rebecca Bessey. “We won’t have the hearing date or the decision date set yet, but at least, then it gives an opportunity for the public to know that we have an application in-house and they can come up with questions, look at the plans, submit comments. We want to encourage more public participation and engagement.”
The court’s ruling that the city had correctly followed its process and procedures in reference to the hotel development decision was encouraging to Bessey and was welcomed by Suiter.
“If it goes into a court, sometimes, it’s a sense of relief because we can kind of get an objective view and look at the evidence and hear the court’s decision and respond from there,” Suiter said. “It’s nice to know that the courts affirmed the City Council’s decision.”
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