Steamboat citizens group has established a legal fund to challenge Pine Grove Road Marriott
Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 5:15 p.m. April 24. The city received the complaint and summons, and a form with a waiver and acceptance of service. City Council approved the hotel on Feb. 5.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A citizens group has emerged in response to the approval of a Residence Inn by Marriott on Pine Grove Road and is raising money for a legal fund in the ensuing lawsuit.
Amid public outcry, Steamboat Springs City Council approved plans for the hotel on Feb. 5, determining that the project meets the criteria set forward in the city’s zoning code. In March, a lawsuit appealing that decision to the 14th Judicial District Court was filed, but no action had been taken on the suit until this week.
Steamboat residents Steven Bloom and Kristine Bensler originally filed the suit in March. Now, a new organization has taken their place as plaintiffs on the suit: Steamboat Citizens for Responsible Growth.
“The reason we created this organization is because we care about Steamboat, and we’re concerned about this decision,” Bloom said.
The group has set up a GoFundMe page soliciting contributions to a legal fund to challenge the Marriott decision. So far, they’ve raised $18,730 of their $50,000 goal.
While the citizens group is a nonprofit, Bloom said it’s not a charity. Donations are not tax deductible.
The group’s first focus is the Marriott decision, but Bloom said they also hope to be involved in zoning code changes.
According to the GoFundMe page, the organization will retain any funds in excess of its $50,000 goal “to fund similar initiatives in the future, including efforts to modify the Steamboat Springs Community Development Code, the Steamboat Springs Community Plan and the community notice and approval process.”
“What’s hard is we’re starting with a contesting of a decision,” Bloom said. “Sitting in the City Council meetings, I’ve heard them say they can only enforce the regulations that are in place, so let’s talk about changing them. We’d like to have a part of that conversation in the future, but today, we need to focus on what we have at hand.”
Rich Tremaine, the attorney representing Citizens for Responsible Growth, said documents on the suit were given to the city on Monday, April 22, and the developer’s agent on Tuesday, April 23.
City Staff Attorney Jennifer Bock and Cypress 16 Managing Partner Leon Hurley, a minority developer on the project, said they had not seen the documents.
Both Bock and Hurley declined to say anything else on the matter. Hurley referred questions about the construction of the hotel to his business partner, Gary Roffe, who, as of press time, hadn’t returned two phone calls from Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The suit alleges the city and developers didn’t provide public notice early enough to the public and neighboring property owners, and the city failed to provide due process to those who objected to the proposal, according to an amended complaint filed in the district court.
It also alleges serious concerns about traffic impacts and variances in Cypress 16’s application were not adequately addressed, and those variances were improperly sought and obtained.
Bloom said the intention of the endeavor is to give residents who wanted fair time to process and work through the proposal that time to do so.
“We felt like the city had an opportunity to put it out there for the community,” he said. “We felt that they could’ve addressed this in a more complete way.”
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