Kevin Bennett: Council going west in wrong direction
If you like the idea of more traffic, more congestion, more growth, and more people, and have longed for an opportunity to personally help pay for this growth … then your day has arrived. But if that is not your position, you might want to take a look at the new direction City Council is taking.
I’m speaking about the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, also known as. the West Steamboat Growth Plan. The key components of the plan for the citizenry lie not in the bricks and mortar, but in the philosophical and very definite positions taken by the City Council at that time and incorporated into the plan.
The four major components to the original West Steamboat Growth Plan:
n Because the area is outside of city limits, there should be a vote of the people or the new growth should pay for itself.
n New urban design — a funny choice of words — is a plan that requires the expansion to look more like Old Town than Sanctuary, with alleys, detached garages, curbs, setback sidewalks and front porches.
n Every third unit will be deed-restricted permanent affordable housing as defined by city code.
n Growth shall be from east to west.
It was the council’s position that these four legs to the stool known as the West Steamboat Growth Plan each were indispensable or the stool falls. And only when these conditions are met would such a radical expansion of the city boundary be allowed without a vote of the people.
Please bear in mind the use by right currently in the planned area is one house per 35 acres. The West Steamboat Growth Plan increases that density to between 140 and 200 houses per 35 acres. Imagine a town with the same population as Steamboat, right next door. This huge increase in density represents an enormous economic windfall for the developer. The trade-off for this density is the four legs of the stool.
As of Tuesday night, the first leg of the stool was sawed off. With no discussion and only a limp promise from the county commissioners to possibly share back some sales tax revenues, the City Council, without debate, removed the requirement that the expansion be required to pay for itself. The estimated annual shortfall of $2,400 per house for operation and maintenance, as projected by the city manager, will be the economic responsibility of the community of Steamboat Springs — in other words, you.
Clearly, the developers were well-represented before and during the meeting. Future residents of the expansion, most of whom don’t live here yet, were well-represented. The only people not represented were the residents who do not want to have to pay for the massive growth and congestion. The council also made it clear that the other legs of the now unsteady stool are open to negotiations. There should be absolutely no expansion of the west boundary of Steamboat Springs without a vote of the people. It’s time to decide: Do you want to personally subsidize all this new growth, or would you like a chance to vote?
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