Letter: Losing our mountain aesthetic, one variance at a time
An out-of-town developer has gained preliminary approval from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission to build a high-density complex of 13 multi-family structures at the top of High Point Drive, amounting to 118 units total.
The Longview Village development will be built on top of the prominent hill where Legacy Hilltop Vacation Resort stands (the “slanted” building with the yellow and orange stripes at the top of the large hill above McDonald’s).
The developer has requested three major variances for this project, two of which are due to the excessive height of the structures he is proposing to build.
Steamboat Springs City Council will be voting to approve or reject these variances at a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 5. There will be an opportunity for public comment before the vote.
Longview Village will dominate the skyline from both directions on Highway 40 because of how the developer has chosen to locate the structures. Additionally, it will obscure views of Mount Werner from vantage points including Yampa River Botanic Park, the adjacent soccer fields, the Yampa River Core Trail, the Yampa River and trails on Emerald Mountain.
In the application, the developer justifies the height variances by stating that Legacy Hilltop “already stands extremely tall on that same hill.” I guess the rationale is since there is already one overly tall building on that hilltop, let’s make it worse?
It bears mentioning that a building the size of Legacy Hilltop would not be allowed to be built there under today’s building codes. And despite how visible Legacy Hilltop is, it is actually setback more than 100 feet from the edge of the hill. Longview Village will be built right up to the very edge.
The developer suggests that landscaping will mitigate the impact to the surrounding skyline. But the fact is he will be removing well over 100 mature trees that currently line High Point Drive, and replacing them with 6 foot tall spruce and aspens.
Steamboat needs housing. But this project could be accomplished without variances: The developer could simply reduce the size of the buildings. These variances only serve to increase the developer’s profits at the expense of our mountain aesthetic.
If you believe that Steamboat Springs is being overly accommodative to developers’ interests through variances, please attend the meeting this Tuesday and speak out. Or email City Council directly using the email addresses listed at the bottom of the page linked below.
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