Paul Stettner: Annexation discussion shouldn’t be ‘them against us’
The matter of annexing West Steamboat Neighborhoods has taken on an us-against-them tone in parts of our community — it does not need to.
The project’s cheerleaders have named those of us who question City Council about West Steamboat Neighborhoods as the old guys/curmudgeons/cavemen — OGCCs. Their hype is that we are against growth/annexation – not so.
We wanted to ensure that City Council complied with city ordinances, adhered to the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan and demonstrated fiscal responsibility in this annexation. A fundamental objective of the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan is to provide affordable and attainable housing to the working people of Steamboat Springs and Routt County at various income levels that cannot afford market-priced homes. Note that a $550,000 home with 10 percent down, 30-year mortgage will require a $120,000 annual income.
Our community does not need just more homes, it also needs housing in the price range affordable to our local workforce. We spoke for a comprehensive annexation agreement that provided it and thereby would benefit our community
The cheerleaders have not explained the allure of this project. Support comments have mainly centered on that it would be a wonderful neighborhood.
Maybe so, but consider that:
• The deed restrictions put no limit on assets.
• Target prices for deed-restricted homes not yet defined.
• No requirement that deed-restricted homes be built concurrent with market homes.
Read Article 725.C of the Community Development Code that includes important annexation approval criteria;
• The advantages of the proposed annexation substantially outweigh the disadvantages to the community or neighborhood
• The proposed annexation is consistent with any adopted guidelines or requirements for the inclusion of affordable housing in new development or annexation proposals.
Ask yourself if West Steamboat Neighborhoods meets them.
Several other unanswered questions concerning financial risk/cost to the city:
• What if the project fails or is delayed?
• Can the city afford extending bus routes to serve the project?
• How will the city transportation capital improvements deficit partially caused by the project, nearly $30,000,000, be funded?
There are several other unresolved issues that may still be blowin’ in the wind. The city should have resolved them all now before the property was annexed. Steamboat Springs will never again have as much negotiating leverage as now. This could be an excellent project but why the rush?
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