Residents look at plan
Growth management, well-defined vision statement discussed
Growth management and a more well-defined vision statement were the two most heavily discussed items at Wednesday’s forum on the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update.
About 40 people attended the community forum on the second draft of the update Wednesday, in which hired consultants Clarion Associates gave a presentation before an hour of public feedback.
One of the most debated issues was whether the plan should include a growth-control mechanism.
“We need to please put growth-rate and timing mechanisms back in the plan. Steamboat Springs is worth the protection,” resident Robert Wilmoth said. “We need to work as hard to be a community, as hard as we work to be a commodity.”
Ben Herman of Clarion Associates, said the draft has three tools that could be used as trigger points to see if more should be done to manage growth. Those triggers would monitor the rate of population growth with benchmarks set at an average annual population increase of 3.4 percent; a jobs to housing ratio of 1.5 and a level of service standard for infrastructure and facilities.
But some residents said they wanted the growth-rate control mechanism — where growth could be controlled by the amount of permits given per year or through the timing of added infrastructure — added back into the plan.
Herman said the growth-management working group, which studied that portion of the plan for more than a year, gave no clear indication if a growth-rate control mechanism should be included or not. At a joint City Council and county commissioners meeting in July, the two boards said they did not want to see those mechanisms in the plan.
Resident John Spezia said a good growth-management plan could coordinate other elements of the community such as transportation and affordable housing and could keep the city out of the boom-and-bust building cycle.
Speaking for the Yampa Valley Construction Trade, Jean Hagenbuch advised against a growth-rate control mechanism, warning it could hurt an already struggling economy. The majority of
the community and businesses that oppose a growth-rate mechanism were not at the meeting, and their voices are not being heard, Hagenbuch said.
Developer Whitney Ward also advised against a growth-rate mechanism and said the plan should focus on where it wants growth and how that growth should look. A major component the plan overlooked, Ward said, was the redevelopment of the base of the ski area.
“That is by far the mot significant amenity in the community,” Ward said. “People come here (to) see that. (Steamboat’s) base village is not competitive with other base villages.”
Other residents said the plan needed to have more of an overall vision statement of where the city planned to go in the future.
“We are in a competitive environment to other communities. We have the same kind of resources, and we see the same kind of economics that they have,” resident Bill Wallace said. “We have to figure, ‘OK, what do we want to be as a town?'”
Herman called transportation a major chapter in the plan and said it borrowed from other planning documents. The plan a shift from reliance on automobiles to a transit system that is widely used by residents. But the plan also calls for widening U.S. Highway 40 and improving intersections.
“It’s an automobile-oriented community, and it’s an automobile-oriented culture. And we can’t make it go away, especially in a community where there is a roadway through the town,” Herman said.
Townie Anderson, who has worked on the plan in working groups, questioned elected officials’ past record on following the guidelines set in planning documents and how much the update would be used. He said elected officials largely have ignored the direction the community said it wanted to go in past surveys.
“Before we adopt the plan, I encourage all of us to hold our leaders responsible. Are they going to be committed to the plan? Are they going to be guided by it, because if not, this is a terrible waste of time,” Anderson said.
— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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