West Steamboat housing proposal met with scrutiny by some community members
October 29, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Bill Jameson said the developers who want to build a series of new neighborhoods on the west end of Steamboat Springs need to pay their fair share for the water that would be needed to sustain the new development.
And realtor Jon Wade said the developers — who were seeking a big exemption from city water rules — said the plan wouldn't fly in a city that lacks a property tax to help pay for new water infrastructure and roads.
Wade said it’s beneficial that the proposal aims to make new homes for local workers, such as nurses and police officers, but added a stronger proposal needed to be made.
"I challenge them to bring a better solution," Wade said.
Skepticism and concern were the reactions community members had in Citizens Hall Tuesday, when Brynn Grey Partners shared its vision for how it would water hundreds of new housing units on the west end of town.
The Steamboat Springs City Council shared the concern about a lack of water rights in the proposal and passed on Brynn Grey's initial proposal, which sought an exemption from city rules that require developers to either bring those water rights, or pay fee in lieu, for their development.
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The developers were also proposing to hold off on completing a looped water system until their second proposed neighborhood was constructed.
Council members invited the developer to work with the city to come up with an alternate plan, one that has the developer putting more skin in the game.
Whether the housing proposal ever moves forward will likely depend on the City Council's appetite for bending existing city rules to accommodate the developers.
David O'Neil, of Brynn Grey, has often reminded the council that other mountain resort communities in which his company has built neighborhoods have offered significant concessions to make the plans work.
Land has been donated.
Fees have been waived.
O'Neil acknowledged the city would be taking some risk under that scenario, because one-way water pipes could freeze or be put offline by fire.
But Steamboat's lack of a property tax, as well as other factors, such as the lack of water rights at the sight, appears to make it harder for this city to offer those concessions without significant consequences.
Several council members expressed concern about approving any development plan that would put the city's taxpayers at risk.
The water issue is the first major hurdle the developer would have to clear before the city would entertain any annexation.
City staff is also ironing out the details of a pre-annexation agreement that would dictate how much the city would be reimbursed for its staff time to vet the housing proposal.