Steamboat Springs City Council president stands by approval of controversial apartment project
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill doesn’t think the council should reconsider its recent approval of a controversial downtown apartment project that is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit.
“At this point, I’m not willing to reconsider it,” Magill said of the development slated for 1125 Lincoln Ave. “I’ll be interested in hearing what the court has to say. We looked at each of the variances and had a dialogue on it” before the variances were approved.
Council members Tony Connell and Heather Sloop, who voted with Magill and Councilwoman Robin Crossan to approve the project, did not return phone calls to discuss the project on Thursday.
Crossan said she was out of town Thursday and wanted to review the lawsuit and her notes before commenting on the issue.
Ken Manley claimed the council did not follow proper procedure and broke rules when it approved several variances for the 60-unit 1125 Lincoln Ave. project, which will be taller and more dense than what is allowed by the city’s Community Development Code.
In a court document Manley and his attorney, Rich Tremaine, filed on Friday, the opponent outlines his case against the city.
He claims the rationales council members gave for approving several variances for the project in April were “arbitrary and capricious” and were made without any factual findings, as required by city codes.
The lawsuit is essentially an appeal of the council’s decision.
Manley is hoping a district court judge will ultimately intervene and overturn the council’s approval or order the council to reconsider the 4-1 vote.
In August, 27 community members signed a letter opposing the project.
They noted the project would not offer any affordable housing and could create traffic issues.
“City Council ignored the building code and voted for the project in spite of its many drawbacks,” the community members wrote.
Despite the lawsuit and the public opposition, Magill said he sticks by the approval of the project.
“I think it’s bad public policy to reconsider just because there is a formal appeal,” Magill said. “Hopefully, this court case is not too timely or costly for anyone involved.”
Magill added he believed it would also be bad public policy for a council to overturn its decisions every time there is some form of public outrcry.
“Voters can do that when they vote for council members,” Magill said.
Council members who were supportive of the project and the variances said the need for the residential and mixed-use building outweighed concerns about its size and appearance.
“This fits (for) nurses and hospital workers and the young couple who have good jobs but can’t get a home here,” Councilman Connell said of the apartments at the hearing.
Council members Scott Ford and Jason Lacy recused themselves from the vote due to potential conflicts of interest.
Councilwoman Kathi Meyer was the lone “no” vote.
She agreed with community members who felt the building was too tall and dense for the area.
The status of the apartment project is currently unknown.
Developer Eric Rogers did not return a phone call from Steamboat Today on Thursday morning to discuss the lawsuit’s impact on the project.
He also did not return a previous call when the city provided the courts a record of the council’s proceedings.
Rogers told Steamboat Today in April he was hoping to break ground on the apartments this summer.
Magill said the project has a three-year vesting from the time of the council’s approval.
The apartment project would create three retail bays and 60 new apartment units that will be marketed toward residents making $50,000 to $100,000 per year.
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