Steamboat council debates upfront costs of Brynn Grey annexation
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — If it’s true that the devil is in the details, Steamboat Springs City Council and housing developer Brynn Grey had a heck of a time Tuesday, May 22 resolving an issue as fundamental as how and when to fund new $810,000 municipal snowplowing equipment that would be needed to clear the streets of the new neighborhood on the west side of the city.
Brynn Grey CEO David O’Neil and Managing Partner Melissa Sherburne sat down with city council members Tuesday in the first of three work sessions planned for this summer to fine tune the details of an annexation agreement that could, over a period of years, result in adding 150 acres and 400 homes to the city. Some of those homes would be restricted to people employed in Routt County.
The annexation agreement is a necessary precursor to Brynn Grey/West Steamboat Neighborhoods LLC pursuing a development permit to move forward to install the infrastructure required to ultimately create three neighborhoods with an emphasis on housing for locals. The community has been anticipating something similar to the Brynn Grey proposal for two decades.
However, it was the cost of the snow-plowing equipment and the timing for Brynn Grey to contribute to that expense that took up about 20 minutes of the City Council work session.
Language in a draft annexation agreement for the future subdivisions calls for the city to come up with the money to purchase motor grader, sand truck, front-end loader and to build cold equipment storage early in the development of the proposed neighborhoods west of the current city limits.
The draft reads: “Brynn Grey/West Steamboat Springs Neighborhoods LLC proposes to contribute its fair share of funds for public works capital costs, i.e., the snow plowing equipment, prior to receiving the building permit for the 199th home/housing unit.”
Some city council members objected to waiting that long for a cost share.
“I don’t like us being the bank on all of this,” City Council President Jason Lacy said. “You’re asking us to take the risk for a long time. For me, if we’re going to do something like this, I’d like to see partial upfront payment and set up a timeline.”
Public Works Director Jon Snyder confirmed that his snow-plowing fleet is at capacity and the city could be asked to provide the equipment when the first roads are completed in the new development.
Council member Heather Sloop suggested the city and the developers find a way to fund the necessary snow removal equipment collectively.
“I feel for you guys, you don’t want to pay for that upfront, but we can’t either,” Sloop said. “I don’t see any future City Council pulling $810,000 out of the sky. That’s just blowing half our (annual) capital improvement budget doing stuff like that. I want to make sure we’re all aware this is a big chunk of change, and nobody wants to pay for it.”
O’Neil told Steamboat Pilot & Today on Wednesday that the issue of the upfront costs of acquiring snow-removal equipment is emblematic of the challenges of ultimately making the overall project work.
“I don’t know what the solution is, but Heather is right, we need to reach it collectively,” O’Neil said. “The direction I heard from council was to get together with Jon Snyder and talk about it. We’ve got a problem with upfront costs, and John’s got a problem. We’ve got to solve his problem. He needs the equipment, and I feel like the council is working with us to find a way to do that.”
Funding the snow removal is one example of numerous provisions in the draft annexation agreement. A short list of other issues includes settling on the amount of money that will be attached to the sale price of each home to “firm up” the domestic water supply in the new developments.
There is also language creating a private covenant that sets a 1 percent real estate transfer tax to offset the cost of city services that would collected on home sales.
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