Steamboat’s infill options debated |

Steamboat’s infill options debated

Director: Available city lots face zoning, location challenges

Mike Lawrence

— The city's most recent build-out analysis cites 3,111 buildable lots within current city limits. Whether those lots can meet affordable housing needs depends on whom you ask.

Tom Leeson, director of Steamboat Springs' Planning and Community Development Department, said Monday that infill, or development within current city limits, is not a long-term housing solution.

"The remaining units, or the remaining lots for build-out, are really only mixed-use and multifamily units, for the most part," Leeson said. "The bulk of remaining lots are not in zone districts that allow single-family (homes) as a principal use."

Leeson said single-family homes are a significant portion of the demand for affordable housing.

City planning staff completed the build-out analysis in January 2008. Leeson said the number of available lots likely hasn't changed much since then because of the slowdown in local construction and real estate sales. The analysis cites potential for 593 new housing units in the Fish Creek area, 175 in Old Town, 972 at or near the base of Steamboat Ski Area, and 1,371 within the current limits of west Steamboat Springs.

Opponents of the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation say infill is a better means to provide local affordable housing than the annexation of Steamboat 700. That annexation would give the city 15 acres of land — scattered throughout the development — and revenue from a real estate transfer fee to help city officials provide housing for the local work force.

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Longtime affordable housing advocate John Spezia said Tuesday that "there are zoning challenges, but if there is a desire, there is a way to make this infill, redevelopment, density and rezoning work."

Spezia and other members of the Let's Vote committee, which opposes the annexation, have said building within current city limits provides access to mass transit and existing infrastructure, whereas homes in Steamboat 700 would be burdened with taxes and fees associated with the costs of new infrastructure in the annexed land.

Leeson said an example of zoning's limitations on infill is a large parcel of land near Casey's Pond and just south of the Wildhorse Meadows property. That property is zoned for resort-type residential homes that likely would be priced out of the affordable market.

Many of the potential units in west Steamboat, Leeson said, are in commercial districts along U.S. Highway 40 that allow dwelling units in commercial buildings.

"The housing type is limited, and the locations are limited because a lot of that is right along the Highway 40 corridor," Leeson said. "What we don't have is really any opportunities for a mix of housing types, meaning either single-family or attached units that could be multifamily."

Leeson said there could be opportunities for single-family homes in two proposed subdivisions in the city planning process: Sunlight, which he said could provide about 75 total homes near Steamboat Cemete­ry; and Overlook Park, which he said could provide about 140 homes in Steamboat's northwest corner.

"Those are really it for single family, unless there are some significant zone changes," Leeson said. "We still have some availability within the existing urban core, but from a long-term perspective, this community is basically built out — and I think that will result in impacts to price."

Spezia countered that rezoning "is always possible and could be done in exchange for a higher percentage of affordable housing. We can negotiate infill much the same way one negotiates an annexation."

Steamboat 700 proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space on 487 acres just west of current city limits, throughout a 20- to 30-year time frame for development. City voters are deciding the annexation's fate in a mail-only referendum election that ends March 9. Registered city voters who have not received a ballot or need to update their registration status can call City Hall at 970-879-2060.

Mary Alice Page-Allen, asset and program manager for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, reiterated Tuesday that she supports the annexation agreement's housing plan.

"Our issues have been in availability of affordable land and frankly, cash," Page-Allen said. "My board has come out in favor of the housing plan, and we were at the table … when that was all agreed to."


Learn more about the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation here.

Vote on 700

Ballots for the mail-only election have been sent to city voters. City Hall is the only place for voters to return their ballots, by mail or drop-off. City Hall is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and closed Fridays.

The mailing address is: City Clerk’s Office, 137 10th St., Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. One normal postage stamp is sufficient for ballot mailing.

If you have a question about your ballot or voter status, call City Hall at 970-879-2060.