Natalia Stiff: Chipping away at our mountain aesthetic
True Mountain Homes, a.k.a. Jack Nesbitt, has gained preliminary approval from Steamboat Springs Planning Commission to build a high-density complex of 13 multi-family structures on High Point Drive. The development will be built on top of the same hill where the Legacy Hilltop Vacation Resort building now stands (the “slanted” building with the yellow and orange stripes located at the top of the large hill above McDonald’s).
The new development consists of structures that vary in height from 40 feet to 55 feet, with the taller structures being located on the edge of the hillside facing U.S. Highway 40. Due to the prominence of the hilltop where the development will be located, the developer has requested — and received — a waiver to the Skyline Overlay ordinance. The Skyline Overlay ordinance is intended to prevent developments like this from being built in locations like this, as the structures would “protrude into the skyline when viewed from public vantage points.”
Steamboat Springs City Council will be voting to approve or reject this project at the public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 7. There will be an opportunity for public comment before the vote.
The new development will dominate the skyline from both directions on Highway 40. Additionally, the new development will obscure views of Mount Werner from many 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 his request for a Skyline Overlay waiver, arguing that Legacy Hilltop is “already there, protruding into the skyline.” But the Skyline Overlay ordinance was added to the Community Development Code in recent years because the city felt the need to proactively protect our mountain aesthetic.
What is the point of having protections like these if they will only be cast aside every time a developer asks?
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