Steamboat City Council could reconsider Pine Grove Road hotel decision
February 11, 2019
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs City Council could reconsider a planning application that would allow for the development of a Residence Inn by Marriott.
On Monday, the city called a special meeting, set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, in Centennial Hall. The only item on the agenda is a motion to reconsider council's approval of a resolution approving plans for the hotel. If a motion to reconsider the decision passes, council would take up the item up at a later date.
"There's been some interest discussing that decision, and Kathi (Meyer), who is the acting chair for this item, thought it was a good idea if we were to put it on the agenda," said City Attorney Dan Foote.
The approval of the hotel's development plans, a major variance and conditional use permit garnered a public outcry. More than 1,000 people signed a change.org petition requesting council's reconsideration, and the hotel was the subject of numerous letters to the editor.
Molly Waters, who visited the site in October, started the petition.
"I was in one of the cabins, and I felt that parcel was so unique and pristine," she said. "I'd never been back there before. I'd never had an opportunity to be back there. I was amazed by all the wildlife and the old-growth pines and how special of a place it was."
The development proposal disappointed her — she feels that a four-story hotel is too much for the site.
Because City Council plays a quasi-judicial role in the decision, Foote said the approval is not subject to the referendum procedure of gathering signatures to petition the council's decision.
"This is not a situation where you can gather a bunch of signatures and have an election or something like that," he said.
The quasi-judicial process essentially places City Council in the role of a judge, Council Member Scott Ford explained. Council is charged with determining whether the application meets the requirements set out by city planning code.
"They don't have the same discretion they have to balance competing policy interests that they do when they're doing things like legislative decisions," Foote said.
Waters said she hopes the council members who voted in favor of the project will reconsider their vote.
"It's not just an infill site that should be developed just for the sake of getting the most dollars out of it," she said. "It is truly a unique parcel that deserves protection."
The city's reconsideration process is complicated.
Ford said city policy states that a motion to reconsider a decision can only be made by those who voted in the majority. This means that only Ford, Meyer and Robin Crossan — the three council members who voted in favor of the approvals — can put forward a motion that would place it on a future agenda. Council members Heather Sloop and Jason Lacy recused themselves from the discussion and vote.
Should one of those three council members make the motion, they would also be required to vote in favor of it, Ford said.
"For this agenda item, the only discussion that will take place on Tuesday evening will be about the reconsideration motion," Ford wrote in an email to the Steamboat Pilot & Today. "We will not get into discussing the Marriot approval issue."
Following the special meeting, council will continue with a planned work session about possible sites for a new central fire station, marijuana policies, alleys in the city and term limits.