Stagecoach development gets initial county approval; adds 14 units in one of few areas left in county for housing
The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved zoning changes and an initial development sketch that would add 14 units in the Stagecoach area, the first step in a process that has received pushback from many residents.
Builders are proposing a new subdivision that would add four duplexes and six single-family homes in an area of Routt County that has been designated for higher-density housing.
The initial plan for the Laudaulet View Subdivision from Eagle Mountain Land and Development would have put four-plexes on four of the lots, but it was revised after neighbors expressed concern about the housing density when the proposal went before the Routt County Planning Commission in April.
“I think this is really something that would be a benefit for Stagecoach,” said Walter Magill, with Four Points Surveying and Engineering.
Though housing is high on the wish list for many in Routt County, 36 residents in Stagecoach and 28 residents in Red Hawk Village signed petitions to stop the development, saying they didn’t believe it is aligned with the Stagecoach Community Plan. While there were two letters submitted in support of the project, there were 15 in opposition.
The sketch presented last week is the first step in the commissioners’ approval process, and each commissioner was in favor of the plan, saying it would add much-needed housing. Commissioner Beth Melton said she was interested in the initial proposal that would have added 22 total units.
“To me, that is eight housing units that won’t be built for our community,” Melton said. “I think this is to benefit our community. We need housing; we need diversity of housing.”
Earlier this month, the Planning Commission approved both the rezoning of the property and the initial sketch of the development, with commission members saying the benefits of the project outweighed the disadvantages.
The Stagecoach Community Plan is not meant to be the final arbiter but rather an advisory document used to guide development decisions.
“Noncompliance with one aspect of the plan could be reason for denial; however, noncompliance with one aspect of the plan does not require a denial of an application,” said Alan Goldich, a planner for the county.
Goldich said planning staff found many parts of the development and the proposal as a whole aligned with the Stagecoach plan.
The main grievance from current residents is how the development will change the view of the landscape. Goldich said current approvals already allow for four houses to be built, and planning staff doesn’t believe bumping that up to six will have significant visual impacts.
Because the development is near other high-density housing, most of the undeveloped land surrounding the property is already zoned appropriately, and much of the development that could happen near this site can be done with the current approvals in place. Goldich said planning staff found the development would not have a significant impact on the rural character of the area.
Staff also doesn’t believe there will be significant noise or light pollution from the development. Officials with the Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District said the new buildings can be covered by the district’s system without any significant impact, Goldich said.
Several residents spoke during the meeting last week asking commissioners to reject the plan.
One resident, Jennifer Hubler, said she was there in support of the plan, even if she is the only one, because of Steamboat Springs’ housing.
“I believe there is community need,” Hubler said. “The number of people leaving because there is nowhere for them to move … is really tragic.”
Commissioner Tim Redmond said he understands many of the worries expressed by Stagecoach residents, but he explained they are not the only voices he needs to consider.
“I am also in a situation where we are in a crisis for housing, and we are getting to a point where we are pricing families and working people out of our community,” Redmond said.
Most of the area surrounding the proposed development is currently zoned for high-density residential housing, but the land in question is not. Commissioners approved changing the zoning to medium-density housing, where before it had been general residential, which would allow single family home construction.
On the future use map for the area, these parcels were designated for no zoning changes, but County Planning Director Kristy Winser said the map is meant to be a guiding document.
“It has been fully intended from the onset of when Stagecoach was developed in the early ‘70s to be a high-density residential, mixed community,” Winser said. “This would be an appropriate location for residential development.”
There are about 250 other lots that can be built on in Stagecoach right now, but Magill said this development is intended to appeal to a different market, with duplexes that would be more affordable than a similarly sized place in Steamboat.
“People that can’t afford a duplex in Steamboat or don’t want to buy a townhome in Steamboat, they can take a young family, and they can move out here,” Magill said. “To build these lots and make that available is a community asset.”
Winser said development of more housing throughout the county will be significantly limited by access to water, as many parts of the county are over appropriated or are at critical risk of being over appropriated soon.
“In terms of where we grow and where we develop in terms of the master plan process, Stagecoach really remains as that area,” Winser said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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A 346-acre parcel of land currently for sale on the west side of Steamboat Springs could hold the key to the community’s future housing needs, if it can attract the right buyer.