Let’s Vote committee: Growth myths | SteamboatToday.com

Let’s Vote committee: Growth myths

The biggest myth: Annexing Steamboat 700 is a smart approach to manage growth, one that fits a 15-year plan for growing Steamboat. Anything less or anything else makes no sense.

No, City Council negotiated a deal that ignores the very principles of smart growth. This deal is not the smartest. There are better ways to preserve our community’s character, sustain our quality of life and protect our community’s heart and soul.

Second myth: We need a 2,000-home subdivision.

No, we have a 10- to 20-year inventory of homes, and the city’s build-out plan shows 3,100 buildable units within the city limits. Experts consider new neighborhoods with new infrastructure one of the dumbest approaches to growth. We think infill, along with density and redevelopment, are the smart ways to grow, and they create jobs for locals through local developers.

Third myth: Steamboat 700 will create sustainable jobs.

No, the economy drives jobs in our valley, not Steamboat 700. Steamboat 700 won’t build a thing until the economy can support it. When the economy can support it, local developers will be building again, too. Local developers employ locals; they don’t import contractors or workers.

Fourth myth: Those “preposterous,” “ludicrous” opponents to annexation are “no-growthers.”

No, voting against annexation is not a vote against growth or against growth west of Steamboat. It is a vote against this badly flawed agreement that only garnered a 4-3 split decision from our City Council. If City Council failed to reach agreement among itself, clearly some of our negotiators think the city did not get the most beneficial deal.

Voting against this deal means Steamboat 700 can come back and renegotiate in a year. In that year, the community and City Council have the opportunity to reassess what we want and need from an annexation, and what constitutes an agreement that is good for the city and its citizens. Voting against the annexation is not a vote against growth.

Fifth myth: Steamboat 700’s assumptions of its long-term projections are valid.

No, Steamboat 700 purchased their land in 2006 before the “Great Recession.” It declined to revise its projections after September 2008. Who thinks their pre-Great Recession financial and economic plans still are valid? Haven’t we learned that massive projects involving lots of debt often fail? Experts don’t know when, if ever, the economy will return to earlier levels of employment. Do we really want to expose ourselves to that kind of risk? We only need to look at the history of Steamboat Springs and Routt County with large projects to see where Steamboat 700 is most likely headed.

Sixth myth: Steamboat 700 is the only way our community gets the infrastructure it needs.

No, Steamboat 700 is not our only option to solve affordable housing and transportation issues in our valley. It is paying for only a share of the impacts it creates, hardly the benchmark a municipality should set for accepting an annexation petition. We think Steamboat can come up with solutions to transportation questions and homes for locals without the massive risk and minimal rewards that Steamboat 700 offers.

Let’s Vote proposes infill, density and redevelopment that fit well with our efficient SST bus system to reduce traffic congestion.

Seventh myth: We have extra water.

No, in the West, when you grow, you need to grow your water supply while ensuring current residents will still have water. Steamboat 700 brought no water rights to the city. The city exempted Steamboat 700 from its water rights dedication policy. Instead, Steamboat 700 paid $960,000 to firm water rights. Most Colorado municipalities require developers seeking annexation to bring “wet” water. The city could have required Steamboat 700 to purchase the water rights or make a payment-in-lieu equal to the duly appraised value of water in the region.

The city has granted a large favor by not requiring a dependable legal supply of water to satisfy their projected annual demand of 1,215 acre-feet and letting Steamboat 700 skate by with $960,000 and letting them tell the city how to spend it. At a very conservative estimate of $150 a year for an acre-foot of water, at $960,000 Steamboat 700 will merely pay the equivalent of six years worth of water. How is that fair to our community?

We stand for our community. Vote “no” on Referendum A.

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