Commission needs more time

Planning group not done discussing mountain-area plan

Steamboat Springs Planning Commission members on Thurs--day said they needed more time to discuss recent recommendations to the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan Update.

Some Planning Commission members said the consultant's latest recommendations, which relate to zoning, height and density and affordable housing, extended beyond the scope of the update.

"I feel like this is a bill that is going into Legislature or Senate, and it is getting stuff tacked onto it every time you turn around," Planning Commissioner Tracy Barnett said. "It isn't at all what we started out with."

Planning Commissioners were scheduled to give final approval to the base area plan Thursday night. Since the winter, city-hired consultant Stan Clauson Associates has been working on updating the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan.

The update was part of the city's process of forming an urban renewal authority at the base area and is expected to help determine where public improvement projects are needed. It also is intended to give property owners guidelines for redeveloping their properties.

Assistant Planning Director Tom Leeson wrote a memo to the Planning Commission with six questions he thought arose from the consultant's latest recommendations, which came to the planning department last week.

"We need to be prepared to answer the major questions," Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer said, suggesting further discussion before adopting the plan.

Among those questions was whether the Planning Com--mission felt comfortable with the recommendation that four- to eight-story buildings be the norm for the base area. The recommendation also raised the issue of where the city should allow building heights to increase and whether they should tie other requirements to allowing an increase in density.

Another discussion item was the inclusion of affordable and employee housing in the base area and whether programs to promote lower-income housing should be incentive-based, regulatory or a combination of the two.

During Thursday's Planning Commission meeting, people with an interest in development at the base area urged the city to hold a community discussion about its affordable housing policies and to not focus the issue solely on the base area.

"I don't think balancing the affordable housing needs of the community on the base area right at the start, without having a debate, is the right way to go," David Baldinger Jr. said. "There should be the opportunity for the community to talk about it communitywide. That is the only way we will get the real number of units that are needed."

The planning commissioners agreed to discuss the items at a special Sept. 6 work session and to resume the hearing to adopt the update Sept. 8. The City Council is set to review the base area plan Sept. 13.

The draft of the update that came before the Planning Commission on Thursday re----tained elements that had been discussed for the past few months, including building a promenade along the base of the ski area, turning the top of Ski Time Square Drive into a pedestrian plaza, redeveloping parking garages into residential units and loopin g the bottom half of Ski Time Square Drive past the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

A few planning commissioners said they did not want to delay the plan any longer than necessary in light of the moratorium that has been placed on development plans for the base of the ski area until the update is completed.

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