Paul Stettner: Council needs to address costs associated with proposed West Steamboat Neighborhood
Steamboat Springs has been “discovered.” Housing has become more expensive than many of our local workers can afford. Affordable housing is needed.
An undeveloped area adjacent to the west city boundary is where the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County agreed that growth would be focused. This area is defined by the Urban Growth Boundary.
To establish the characteristics and requirements that developments must comply with, the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan, with much resident input, was written and adopted by both the city and county. The City Community Development Code states that developments must also comply with other city-adopted plans, such as the area plan.
Brynn Grey, a mountain community developer, is proposing a development named West Steamboat Neighborhoods located within the urban growth boundary with its east boundary adjacent to the city’s west boundary. Brynn Grey has been meeting with the city for two years presenting their development plans and requesting annexation. A pre-annexation agreement is in place. City Council will vote whether or not to approve annexation in the near future.
After much discussion and compromises, there is still a major deficiency in the proposed Brynn Grey development plan. The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan requires a specified amount of affordable housing – 90 living units priced for households earning 80 percent AMI for sale with deed restrictions. Currently, this would put the price at about $260,000. There are no units in the Brynn Grey plan at, or near, that price.
Brynn Grey is proposing that instead of building these units, they provide a 2-acre parcel of raw land to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority as a trade off. This offer is inequitable and should not be acceptable to the city.
In addition to various other impacts on our community, West Steamboat Neighborhoods would place significant additional demands on our infrastructure and services over time. Some questions are, what are the estimated city costs and how will they be paid? What would be the revenue source?
Before voting on this annexation, City Council should inform the public of their reasoning, of the concessions offered to Brynn Grey, their concurrency planning — expansion of city services related to West Steamboat Neighborhoods’ demands — and should produce a comprehensive, time-scaled financial balance sheet showing anticipated city costs versus revenues from the neighborhood for best- and worst-case scenarios.
Also, we should know the financial risks to the city should West Steamboat Neighborhoods, if for any reason, fail to develop as planned.
Financial tables and a spreadsheet that compare city costs with Brynn Grey payments estimate that the city would pay over $30,000,000 more than Brynn Grey for this project — a major commitment for a sales tax-based city.
This letter is not meant to specifically oppose the West Steamboat Neighborhoods but rather to say that it is timely, before the council votes, that council make public a comprehensive report either in Steamboat Pilot & Today or perhaps in a special town hall meeting that addresses these issues.
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