Steamboat Planning Department proposes changes to notification process
Steamboat Springs — Responding to complaints from earlier in the year, the city of Steamboat Springs Planning Department is considering updates to the process used to alert residents to when there’s a project proposed in their neighborhood.
A draft of the potential changes will be covered during a work session at the Planning Commission’s 5 p.m. Thursday meeting at Centennial Hall.
After surveying other Colorado communities about their processes, the city is proposing a draft plan that keeps the system for mailing letters mainly intact. The city will continue to provide the draft of the notification letter, and the project applicant will compile mailing addresses from the city or Routt County assessor websites.
What would change is the Planning Department’s online tools for those seeking information about projects.
A department memo proposes a new Geographic Information System tool specifically for public notices. The search process on the city’s GIS website also would be changed to better identify property owners, especially in multi-family buildings.
The memo signals a shift away from printed notices to more interactive, online information.
Notices printed in the newspaper would be limited to those required by state statute, dropping the number of project types featured in print from 19 to six. Agendas would continue to be published in the newspaper.
In place of print notices, a webpage would be created to highlight projects and provide more information than is available in print.
City of Steamboat Springs planner Toby Stauffer said Monday that two plans for new webpages are being considered. The first would be an interactive way to highlight projects and provide supplemental information, and the second would include a GIS component to show projects in a given area.
Despite potential savings from scaling back print notices, Stauffer said, there would be additional costs associated with the more Web-centric approach.
“We think it might be sort of a wash,” she said about the net financial effect.
The department in recent years has budgeted between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars for advertising, which includes newspaper notices. Stauffer said much of those dollars could stay with newspaper notices. Agendas especially are larger, more expensive ads that are required regularly.
Any potential changes to print advertisements likely would not go into effect until the new webpages were operational, Stauffer said. City Council would need to pass an ordinance to change the notification standards set in the city’s code.
Notification changes also would include a lesser level of notification for some minor projects that would limit the scope to property owners within 100 feet of the project as opposed to 300 feet.
“We thought there were some projects that seem to have fewer impacts, so we’re trying to provide that option as a benefit to people,” Stauffer said.
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Routt County’s Human Resources Coalition has outlined a three-year plan to help vulnerable county residents, putting particular focus on affordable housing, transit and mental health.