Mark O’Reilly: Vote ‘yes’ on 700
February 24, 2010
Steamboat Springs — First, a disclaimer. I have no connection to the groups either for or against the Steamboat 700 annexation. I've made an effort to become informed, and based on the facts as I understand them, I support the Steamboat 700 annexation. I find the tactics of those opposing the annexation to be fear-based rather than fact-based.
The fact is that the plan for Steamboat 700 follows the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. The nearly three-year annexation process has involved many public hearings with ample opportunity for community input, and it has been under the constant scrutiny of the city's planning staff, the Planning Commission and the City Council, all of whom are dedicated and intelligent public servants. City staff and their consultants have spent countless hours crafting an annexation agreement that assures the financial risks of the project lie with the developer, and that protects the community.
Like it or not, one way or another, Steamboat will grow. The question is, which is preferable? Incremental, piecemeal growth, one small project at a time? Or growth based on long-range, comprehensive master planning? Personally, I prefer the latter.
The Steamboat 700 payoff to the community includes 30 percent parks and open space, 12 miles of trails, trail connections and bike lanes leading into downtown, land and money for a school, a transit center and a commercial base serving the project, including day care, a grocery store, offices and restaurants. And by the way, Steamboat 700 is actually only 487 acres of the 1,100-acre West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.
I'm more or less baffled by the Let's Vote position on a key element of the Steamboat 700 master plan — affordable housing. One of their ads asks, "Are you worried about the value of your home? Vote No." Talk about hypocrisy. This is the same group that has complained that Steamboat 700 doesn't provide enough affordable housing, and now they're trying to raise a fear in the minds of voters that affordable housing is a threat to the community.
Our City Council voted for annexation, and because I believe in long-range, comprehensive master planning, I support that decision.
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