Steamboat Springs Planning Commission rejects approval of several illegal dwelling units on Buena Vista Court
Steamboat Springs — Almost every property owner on Buena Vista Court made a trip to Citizens Hall earlier this month to try to solve a conundrum that has been causing tension on the cul-de-sac.
Three of the seven properties on the street contain illegal secondary dwelling units that have been rented out to seasonal workers, sons, family members and others through the years.
A duplex quietly became a four-plex.
And others bought properties that had already been renting out secondary units illegally.
The property owners, some of whom say they couldn’t afford their mortgages without the extra rent, took in tenants in caretaker units and lower levels of the homes.
“It was kind of the Steamboat way,” resident Loren Buntrock said of the living situations.
Buntrock now rents out two units in his property on a short-term and long-term basis.
He said that, though the living situation is currently illegal, it fulfills a need for seasonal workers and others.
But the property owners never got the necessary approvals for the secondary units.
Fast forward to today, and the cul-de-sac near the intersection of Hilltop Parkway and Tamarack Drive finally reached a tipping point.
Neighbors grew weary of the extra cars parked on the street and the challenges of snow removal.
Some claimed some snow removal companies wouldn’t even bid on the private street due to the parking challenges.
The city’s code enforcement became aware of the illegal units, and the living situations became the subject of a Nov. 17 planning commission hearing.
Here, neighbors recalled how they have unsuccessfully tried to form an HOA to solve the issue or even come up with a road sharing agreement that would prevent the extra cars from parking outside driveways and blocking snow removal operations.
“We haven’t come to any unanimous agreement,” lamented resident Archie Lowe, who expressed concern about the parking situation on the street.
In order to keep the secondary units in their properties, the owners need to get two things.
First, the planning commission and the Steamboat Springs City Council would need to allow such units as conditional uses in their zoning district.
The owners would also need to get variances to allow a different parking configuration needed to accommodate more residents.
On all of the three applications, the planning staff found the requests were not consistent with some area’s of the city’s community development code.
Planning commissioners agreed and rejected all three requests.
Many were skeptical that any acceptable parking plan could be worked out without the overflow of cars still taking up room in the cul-de-sac.
Commissioner Michael Buccino told the property owners they should band together and form an HOA, instead.
“Doing this in this way, each one of these are not worthy of this type of approval,” Buccino said.
Other commissioners said it was not their role to help homeowners, rather to interpret and follow the city’s code.
Commission Chairman Charlie MacArthur voiced a different opinion about the proposals.
He voted to approve all of them and felt the parking issue could be mitigated.
The property owners can appeal the decision to the City Council.
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