Yampa Valley Housing Authority submits Brown Ranch annexation petition to Steamboat Springs
The Yampa Valley Housing Authority submitted a petition to annex the Brown Ranch into Steamboat Springs on Monday, Oct. 18, officially starting an expedited effort that could wrap up by this time next year.
The petition submitted to City Council has been expected after officials from the housing authority presented plans for the 536-acre development earlier this month. Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said that while part of the haste is to take advantage of grant funding available for projects like the Brown Ranch, the sense of urgency he is feeling comes from Steamboat’s need for housing.
“The pressure that we feel is not necessarily on the funding side,” Peasley said. “But really, it’s on the human side of the folks that are really struggling today to live in this town.”
The petition is the third attempt to annex the property into the city, with the previous attempts ultimately failing. The latest attempt to annex the property, then called West Steamboat Neighborhoods, was approved by city voters after a three-year effort to get an annexation agreement, but the developer failed to purchase the property.
What’s different this time, Peasley said, is that both the city and housing authority have a “shared commitment” to annex the Brown Ranch, rather than being adversarial negotiating parties.
“Shared commitment is what gives us the confidence to be investing in the infrastructure design,” Peasley said. “This isn’t sort of one versus one.”
Plans for the Brown Ranch would deliver the first housing units by the end of 2026. However, getting to that point will require detailed planning for the development to start before an annexation agreement is in place. Some council members have expressed a desire to ask Steamboat voters about annexation next November, which would likely require an annexation agreement by the end of August.
To compress the timeline, Peasley said they will need to work on multiple things simultaneously. In addition to annexation, Peasley added, the housing authority would continue to design infrastructure, work on plat applications and develop other construction drawings.
“The goal for the housing authority would be that we’re standing here a year from now and are approving our first plat and getting ready to start bidding out construction work for the first phase,” Peasley said. “That only happens through us having this shared commitment.”
Feedback from the Brown Ranch presentations on Oct. 6 revealed that traffic and water access are two top concerns among residents, Peasley said. Both are expected to be extensive parts of annexation discussions.
City Council President Robin Crossan said another concern she has heard about is population growth because of the Brown Ranch. The group opposing the proposed 9% short-term rental tax has asserted the development will add 10,000 residents to Steamboat Springs, a point Peasley said was “categorically and mathematically false.”
“As far as the first neighborhood, I see that as an opportunity to move people out of these doubled-up households or tripled-up households or moving closer to their job,” Peasley said. “Creating these healthy housing situations for folks who are currently working in our community who are not in healthy housing situations.”
Also driving the timeline is access to state and federal grant opportunities that are available because millions of dollars in pandemic relief aid has been set aside for housing projects. Peasley said because Steamboat has shown a willingness to put community resources toward housing, the project will likely be viewed favorably by granting agencies.
Officials at a variety of levels have pointed to the Brown Ranch as a likely project to get state and federal grant funding, and Peasley has said he believes grants from beyond the Yampa Valley could potentially pay for half of the estimated $400 million price tag for infrastructure. Still, the grants will likely require local funding as a match.
Council member Eddie Briones asked Peasley what Plan B, C and D would be if voters reject the proposed tax on short-term rentals next month. The tax measure, which applies only to short-term rentals and not other lodging properties like hotels, would fund affordable and attainable housing, including but not limited to the Brown Ranch.
“If 2A, for whatever reason, doesn’t pass, that’s an indication that the community didn’t like that particular funding mechanism,” Peasley said. “But we, as a community, are going to have to figure out some type of local funding mechanism for this.”
While politicians like Gov. Jared Polis have said the project is a good candidate for state funding, Peasley explained those are not firm commitments. At the request of City Council, Peasley said he would put together a list of grants they hope the project could get.
“I would like, at a minimum, for you to say, ‘Here are five grants that we’ve been telling about and we don’t know if we’re going get them, but this is what we’re shooting for and we want you guys on this council to know this is why we are this urgent,’” said council member Michael Buccino.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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