Area plan update is over budget

Consultants to pick up costs beyond $275,000

The $275,000 budgeted for the update of the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan has been spent, though there is more than a month's worth of work left to complete.

The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County are not expected to spend any more money on the plan, City Planner Tom Leeson said.

Clarion Associates of Denver, a consulting firm, was hired in the spring of 2001 for the project. Because the bid estimate was $275,000, Leeson said, the consulting firm will shoulder the rest of the update's expenses.

"We are over budget," Leeson said. "Basically, they are working for free."

Clarion Associates consultant Ben Herman estimated the cost will be $8,000 to $10,000 more than anticipated. Going over budget, Herman said, is not uncommon.

"It is not good for us. It is difficult to make the project work financially," Herman said. "We made a commitment, and we will see it through. That is the way it is."

The city is paying for the majority of the update. The county is contributing $70,000, and grants account for $40,000.

The budget for the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update was discussed at Thursday's Area Plan Coordinating Committee meeting.

Leeson said the increased costs are a result of the length of time it took to develop the plan and changes that were made to it. City and county officials had hoped to have the plan completed by August 2003.

"The public process was much more extensive than anyone imagined," Leeson said.

The updated plan is more comprehensive than the last one, Herman said. The process took time as the community worked through complex issues such as growth management and transportation. The city also changed planning directors during the two-year review.

The final adoption hearing was scheduled for March 15 but was postponed after requests were made by public officials to see the changes to the plan in print before adoption.

The adoption hearing has been rescheduled for May 3 at Olympian Hall. The City Council, City Planning Commission, Routt County commissioners and County Planning Commission will be at that meeting.

During the Area Plan Coordinating Committee meeting, members recommended that anyone with written comments submit them at least a week before the adoption hearing. The boards will take public comment at that meeting, but Committee Chairman Ken Brenner said it would be hard to process written comments that night.

"It is very difficult for the group to seriously consider those documents," Brenner said. "I am not trying to be mean spirited; I am just trying to be practical."

The changes to the adoption draft should be available in one to two weeks, Leeson said. That document, which will have just the pages in the plan with the changes, will be available online at www.yampavalley.info and for pickup at city and county planning departments.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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