Riverwalk plan progresses | SteamboatToday.com

Riverwalk plan progresses

— The proposed Riverwalk project is two steps closer to approval.

The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted 4-1 on Thursday to approve two phases of the proposed development, a 10-building project along Yampa Street between Third and Fifth streets that would include 72 residential units, seven deed-restricted affordable units, 35 hotel rooms, 35,234 square feet of commercial space and 108 underground parking garage spaces

To build the project, the West–land Mobile Home Park would be demolished. Commissioners’ first task Thursday was to review a plan for a conditional use for the conversion of the park, which contains about 39 homes and 150 residents.

The applicant, who on Thursday was represented by Jim Cook, must go through the conditional-use review because of the city’s preservation of mobile-home housing ordinance. The ordinance requires the applicant to complete an impact report before the city will issue a conditional-use permit. The report includes an inventory of residents and homes in the park, as well as a relocation plan that states the proposed date for closing the park. According to city staff, the applicant’s report is complete.

Commissioners Tracy Barnett and Kathi Meyer sat out of the Riverwalk reviews because of conflicts of interest. Commissioner Steve Lewis was the dissenting vote for the conditional-use permit. He said he did not think the developer’s report was complete.

The commission reviewed the development plan and preliminary plat for the project, which they also approved 4-1. Several people stood during public comment to object to the development.

Stuart Lynn, who lives in the mobile-home park, said the proposed project has more flaws than he could describe. “The scope and scale of these buildings is monstrous,” Lynn said.

Lynn asked commissioners to consider the scale of the buildings, as well as other elements of the project. “I really wish that all of you would look at all of these issues,” he said. “You guys, as citizens, have the requirement to look at all of these issues.”

Mark Freirich, an attorney representing some of the park residents, took Cook to task for his statement that the mobile-home park is not a large enough return on investment.

The crowd erupted into clapping after Freirich’s statement.

“What were they thinking when they bought the mobile-home park?” Freirich asked. He said it was not commissioners’ job to look out for Cook and his partners.

Peter Lewis, another park resident, said he doubted Cook’s statement that a mix of people would be able to live in the development. “I can assure you that we will be excluded from this development,” Lewis said.

Commissioners voted 4-1 in support of the development plan and preliminary plat. Many said the decision was difficult, but they also noted that their task was simply to approve or reject the plan, not decide whether it should replace the mobile-home park.

Lewis especially emphasized the difficulty of his decision.

“You don’t own the land under your mobile home; someone else does,” Lewis said. “They have the right to use the land, perhaps for a change of use.”

Lewis voted in approval of the development plan, but he said he did not like that the commission got to that point. The conversion ordinance is a “slam-dunk,” he said, that affords no weigh-in on commissioners’ part.

“There is an ordinance in place that is really your enemy,” Lewis told the crowd. He said he intends to fight it but that it would be an issue for the future. “I regret that I can’t do anything for the mobile homes,” he said.

Commissioner Dick Curtis was the dissenting vote for approval of the development plan. He said he treated the plan differently because it is a planned unit development. PUDs are projects in which developers request variances from the code. In return, developers must provide public benefit with the development.

If the mobile-home park weren’t there, Curtis said, the public benefit of the project would be “wonderful.” “If this were a vacant lot of land, I would go for this project,” he said.

But the public benefits Cook cited are not worth more than people’s homes, Curtis said.”The public benefit, in my view, does not outweigh what’s being proposed,” he said.

The approvals do not mean that the Riverwalk project is a certainty. Both reviews must also pass approval of the City Council, and commissioners will have to approve the development plan, which addresses architectural issues such as building materials.

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