Neighboring residents oppose residential care facility in Steamboat Springs

Several properties along Ski Trail Lane, a neighborhood where the Steamboat Christian Center and the Come As You Are (CAYA) Ministry hope to open a residential care facility for women's recovery.
Tom Ross/Steamboat Springs Pilot & Today archive

The Steamboat Christian Center and Come as You Are Ministry are reconfiguring their plans for a property purchased for $1.75 million in May on Ski Trail Lane after the Steamboat Springs Board of Adjustment denied a requested adjustment to the city’s parking requirements.

The Steamboat Christian Center and Come as You Are Ministry bought a duplex in the Alpenglow Subdivision with plans to use it as a residential care facility for their free women’s recovery program.

“We are now considering our next steps for that property and for the Come As You Are Ministry in the hope that we can continue to help meet unmet needs in our community,” Troy Lewis, lead pastor for the Steamboat Christian Center, wrote in a statement.

In a separate process through the city’s planning department, the ministry hoped to obtain a limited-use permit to convert the property into a residential care facility, but the ministry needed to receive an adjustment to the city’s parking requirements or else city staff would be compelled to deny the permit.

Per city code, the duplex-style property is required to provide at least eight parking spots to function as a residential care facility. However, the ministry contended only five spaces were needed because their patients aren’t allowed to drive or bring vehicles to the property.

According to the ministry, those five spaces would have been used for two on-site employees, while the three additional spaces would have been used to shuttle residents. In all, the duplex would have been occupied by 14 patients and two staff members.

The city’s planning department expressed concerns about the property’s parking in the past, but overall, decided the ministry’s request for adjustment was reasonable and recommended granting the adjustment.

An overhead view of the property bought by the Steamboat Christian Center and the Come As You Are Ministry. Three of the proposed parking spaces would be on the paved driveway, while two are in a covered garage.
Google Maps/Screenshot

But residents near the ministry’s property spoke out against it during the Dec. 15 hearing, saying five parking spaces would be inadequate and the “intensive use” of the property by “16 unrelated people” would be out of step with the residential neighborhood.

John Shively, who lives in the neighborhood, argued that nonresidential uses on Ski Trail Lane should be “complementary and compatible” with the surrounding area.

“Two small residential care facilities for unlicensed drug and alcohol rehab is neither complementary or compatible,” Shively said.

Other neighbors also spoke out against the ministry’s application, including an attorney who represented several people opposed to the ministry’s application.

The neighboring residents were concerned that people would park vehicles on the street and told the board that Ski Trail Lane is so narrow it effectively becomes a one-way if any cars are parked on the shoulder. Several nearby residents brought up a vehicle wreck that occurred earlier this year when a Ford Transit full-size cargo van backed out of the driveway and slid off into a neighboring property.

Ryan Spaustat of the board of adjustment was the lone detractor during the board’s 3-1 vote denying the ministry’s adjustment request.

“There’s a lot of eyes up there,” Spaustat said. “If CAYA doesn’t operate like they’re saying they’re going to, and there are more cars up there, it’s gonna get turned over to the city enforcement agency pretty quickly.”

Spaustat first recommended tabling the discussion until it could be clearly demonstrated whether the property has enough parking space for five vehicles, but when the vote was called, he voted in support of the application.

The other board members said they had a hard time picturing the care facility operating with five spaces, and added that they would have liked to see a demonstration of the driveway functioning with five vehicles. They were also concerned because one of the parking spaces would have blocked an easement for snow storage and would require a separate agreement with the city’s public works department to be used for parking.

Brian Adams, who represented the applicant, said he tested the parking area using his own truck. He told the board he placed objects in the parking spaces to simulate parked vehicles and was still able to turn his truck around to pull out onto the main road facing forward.

“When I raise my right hand and tell you that it’s maneuverable, and that you can back around and pull out forward safely, that’s what I’m saying we can do as an applicant,” Adams said.

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