New workforce housing proposed along Core Trail
During the City of Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting on Thursday Dec. 8, Chad Fleischer, who competed as a ski racer in the 1994 and 1998 Olympics and owns Fleischer Sport, presented to the commission Streamside at Steamboat, a 50-unit mixed residential neighborhood with 20 units dedicated to workforce housing.
The Planning Commission approved Fleischer’s applications and praised the project’s density and alignment with the city’s goal to expand local workforce housing.
The project would be located on 8.8 acres of property on Shield Drive at the edge of the Yampa River and along the Yampa River Core Trail. The subdivision would sit at the edge of the Yampa River and adjacent to Bear River Park.
“I’ve ridden that core path out to the bike park with my kids for a long time now,” Fleischer told the commission. “And I saw this as an opportunity to do something that truly is amazing for this community.”
His appearance before the planning commission took place well ahead of his project’s schedule.
Back in May, the city’s planning department and City Council passed an ordinance to expedite applications for housing developments that provide at least 30% of their capacity toward workforce housing. The 20 units of workforce housing Fleischer promises would account for 40% of the project.
A consultant for the project, Peter Patten, praised the city’s Planning Director Rebecca Bessey and Principal Planner Bob Keenan for moving things along so fast.
“In 23 years, I’ve never seen anything move this fast through the process,” Patten said, who was impressed to already be in a hearing after having submitted the paperwork back in September.
“This could speed up the development of that workforce housing by maybe a year,” he said.
The project was brought to the commission because the property is currently zoned industrial, which is part of the city’s Future Land Use Plan from 2004, so an amendment to that plan is needed to change the property to a planned unit development zone district that allows for a variety of residential structures on the same site.
The site’s zoning allows for 36 live-work residential units, but the planning commission recommends amending the Future Land Use Plan to allow the space to be rezoned as a residential neighborhood.
The rezoning would give developers a lot of flexibility for how to build dwellings on the property. Fleischer’s plan includes a mix of single-family lots, duplex, townhome and multi-family style homes.
The applicants argued that a lot has changed since 2004, such as the development of Bear River Park nearby, and point to the fact that the property is the only industrially zoned space along the riverfront in town.
They also argue that a residential property with open space would improve the view for users of the Core Trail, as the property is being used for refuse collection and a portable toilet rental business.
“It’s where all the outhouses and dumpsters had been sitting for many years,” Fleischer told the commission.
They also said Bear River Park would benefit from having a residential neighborhood within walking distance, and brought up the multimillion-dollar improvements for the park the city plans to start building around 2024.
Overall, the planning commission approved recommending the project, but had concerns about how the residential neighborhood would fit in with the surrounding industrial properties.
“I don’t want to be approving a compatibility issue,” said the Planning Commission Chair Brian Adams, who was the lone detractor in a 5-1 vote to amend the Future Land Use Plan. He said he would feel better if there was a consensus of goals of the surrounding property owners.
The vote for the development itself, however, was unanimous. But commissioner Bryan Swintek said he was reluctant to give a recommendation because workforce housing doesn’t necessarily imply being affordable and said the alternative of having 36 work/live industrial units could potentially be a higher use of the property by creating jobs and housing.
“I actually would love to open a manufacturing facility in town and employ people and give them solid jobs,” Swintek said.
Commissioner Rich Levy addressed Swintek’s point by saying he’s skeptical of the efficacy of live/work properties.
“It’s working for housing,” Levy said. “It’s not working for industrial-commercial in those areas.”
The Streamside at Steamboat will appear before City Council on Jan. 3.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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