County planning permit could clear path for Yampa River Core Trail extension |

County planning permit could clear path for Yampa River Core Trail extension

A sign marks the end of the Yampa River Core Trail south of Steamboat Springs near Steamboat Christian Center at the property line of land owned by Butch Dougherty. The city's parked project list includes $4.4 million worth of extensions to the popular trail, including new trail to the south of its current terminus.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An otherwise obscure planning item approved by the Routt County commissioners Sept. 12 could open the door to extending the Yampa River Core Trail beyond its current southern terminus into the city of Steamboat Springs' Legacy Ranch.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a conceptual plan for two parcels owned by Butch Dougherty, which wrap around the Steamboat Christian Center just outside the city limits. The location on Steamboat's south side is also where the Yampa River Trail ends with a big highway barrier and "no trespassing" signs.

Portions of the property pose challenges to development and are either in the flood zone or the actual "floodway." County officials said the city of Steamboat Springs has no desire to annex the land, which is in the Urban Growth Boundary.

And Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District General Manager Frank Alfone confirmed the water utility is unwilling to extend water and sewer to the site.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips advised the county commissioners that Dougherty's final approval would require him to set aside a significant portion of his property as open space.

"The zoning regulations talk about 25 percent open air recreation space for the public," or quasi public, Phillips said.

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He added that the language approval for the final permit could require dedication of a 20-foot easement (cost to be negotiated) for extension of the Yampa River Core Trail.

Mount Werner Water maintains a horizontal well field on a site just downstream on the Yampa from Dougherty's property, and Alfone told commissioners the water district is preparing to build a second well field on a site upstream from Dougherty.

Alfone said Mount Werner Water would be interested in locating a buried pipeline within any future trail easement on Dougherty's property to transport the new water to its treatment facility off Majestic Circle adjacent to the Steamboat Hotel.

Dougherty's land is divided into two parcels, one accessed from U.S. Highway 40 that houses a plant nursery. The second is accessed from U.S. 40 by Dougherty Road, which is the base for a commercial hot air balloon tour company accessed via a vintage timber bridge over the Yampa River.

Those commercial activities are currently taking place under an administrative permit authorized by Phillips.

This is the second time Dougherty has pursued a conceptual plan with Routt County, and in her motion to approve Dougherty's conceptual plans, County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski gave Dougherty and consultant Jim Stegmeier of Yampa Valley Engineering 60 days to file a permit for a final Planned Use Development permit and another 10 months to win county approval.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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