Our view: Key questions on annexation must be answered
The long-running drama surrounding the proposed West Steamboat Neighborhoods continues to be of high interest locally. And for good reason — key questions about the project remain unanswered just weeks before special-election ballots will be mailed to city residents.
Pursue access agreement promptly
In giving final approval to the 191-acre annexation in February, the Steamboat Springs City Council required West Steamboat Neighborhoods developer Brynn Grey Partners to finalize an access agreement with the neighboring Overlook Park development. The deadline for this agreement was originally May 31.
The agreement involves Brynn Grey securing an easement for use of a small piece of property that would connect the development to U.S. Highway 40 and thus satisfy the need for primary and secondary public-safety access to homes in the neighborhood.
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At issue: The West Steamboat Neighborhoods annexation vote is quickly approaching.
Our View: Some key questions remain to be answered, and voters need to stay informed.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- Robin Stone, community representative
- Steve Hofman, community representative
Brynn Grey also faces a Nov. 12 deadline to purchase the property from the current owners, so the developers can move forward with the 450-home project to be built out over 16 to 20 years.
Those deadlines provided some clarity at the time of the council’s February approval of the annexation. However, since the council decision, opponents of the decision gained approval for the special election that puts the annexation up for a vote of city residents this June.
Amid this turn of events, City Council last month directed staff to create an ordinance that would push Brynn Grey’s deadline to negotiate U.S. 40 access back several months. This action was initiated because the original annexation ordinance has been suspended until results of the June 25 special election are certified.
While that delay may make sense from a legislative standpoint, we think the parties involved in the U.S. 40 access negotiations would be smart to finalize the deal sooner rather than later. By moving quickly on this critical question, a strong message will be sent to the community that progress is being made on a project worthy of their support at the polls.
Brynn Grey CEO David O’Neil told Steamboat Pilot & Today it takes time to work through difficult negotiations, particularly “when deadlines are put on it in public.” Indeed, but after three years of slow progress on a controversial project that still has key loose ends, community support can turn quickly when unknowns fill a vacuum.
Vote with facts, not emotions
In recent weeks, Pilot & Today has started publishing a “Fact Check” series devoted to answering your questions about the West Steamboat Neighborhoods annexation.
We thank those readers who have passed along questions that deserve a closer look. We’ve responded, and here are some of the things we’ve covered so far in this Fact Check series:
- Traffic impacts, both in terms of volume through near- and long-term stages of development and costs to the developer and individual home buyers. At full build-out of the development, developer Brynn Grey will pay a minimum of $3.5 million for road improvements.
- Target prices for housing units. The development would feature three neighborhoods built in stages. Deed-restricted housing would comprise 80% of the Gateway neighborhood, with prices ranging from low $300,000 to $400,000 for townhomes and duplexes to $400,000 to $700,000 for single-family and market-price homes. The Emerald and Slate Creek neighborhoods would include market-rate, single-family homes.
- Existing water sources will be able to meet the needs of the development; however, if the city’s western border moves beyond the West Steamboat Neighborhoods boundary, more water supplies will be needed. At full build-out, Brynn Grey will be required to pay an estimated $4.67 million toward water infrastructure.
- Deed restrictions will govern 158 of the 450 housing units at build-out. Of those, 50 will target household annual incomes of $69,360 or below and 55 will target households that earn $86,700 or less per year. These targets are included in the annexation agreement but are not included in deed restrictions.
- U.S. 40 access to West Steamboat Neighborhoods is still an open question. The City Council is requiring Brynn Grey to negotiate access to U.S. 40 for the development to move forward. As of this writing, agreement for that “primary access” has not been reached.
You can read more about these findings — as well as more background, documents, maps and archived Pilot & Today coverage of the project — on our special West Steamboat Annexation webpage at SteamboatPilot.com/news/annexation.
And you can continue to share your Fact Check ideas and questions to news@SteamboatPilot.com. As stated in kicking off the series, the newspaper’s goal is “to answer those questions so that people are relying on facts when they vote rather than unsubstantiated claims or sheer emotion.”
We know it’s hard work to dig into this very complex issue, but hard work makes for smart decisions. With ballots due to be mailed to city residents beginning June 6, now is the time to dive deep into the particulars.
So do your research, make the decision you want and cast your ballot — every vote counts.
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