Inclusionary zoning OK'd

Developers required to make 15% of residential units affordable

From now on, developers whose residential projects are approved in Steamboat Springs will have to provide affordable housing within the city limits.

The City Council on Tuesday approved an inclusionary zoning ordinance that would require developers in most areas of the city to make 15 percent of residential units affordable.

The affordability of the units will come from a deed restriction based on Routt County's annual median income, which was last calculated at $72,700 for a family of four. Affordable units would go to families making 60 percent to 120 percent of the AMI, with an income average of 90 percent.

Jane Blackstone, a consultant for the Base Area Reinvestment Coalition, said the group, which includes property owners, supports the concept of the ordinance but that it had unacceptable provisions.

Some of those provisions later were addressed by the council. Blackstone said BARC members would prefer that the AMI requirements remain the same as they were before: 50 percent of the units for those making 80 percent or below of the AMI, and 50 percent for those making less than 120 percent of the AMI. That requirement had an increased cost of compliance, Blackstone said.

Several people provided public comment about the option for developers to pay a fee in lieu of providing the units. The ordinance did not make that a right, but instead it was an option that would be approved at the discretion of the City Council.

Blackstone spoke in favor of payment in lieu as an option; so did Sandy Evans Hall, the executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. People who did not see the fee in lieu as a developer's right were Maggie Berglund of the Yampa Valley Community Alliance and Rich Levy, a member of the alliance's board.

The council's discussion about fee in lieu began after council members Paul Strong and Kevin Kaminski said they supported the provision.

Council member Loui Antonucci agreed. He said that the mountain base area was a particular concern for him because he does not consider it a good place for families.

"If we take that money we can take it and build better neighborhoods," Antonucci said.

The ordinance addresses the entire city, not just the base area, council member Susan Dellinger said. She said that the goal was to get housing built, and that building the housing was not the city's job.

"I don't want people buying their way out of affordable housing," Dellinger said.

The council agreed to leave payment in lieu as an option.

Some of the topics that interested members of the public most were set aside by the council as possible amendments to the ordinance. They plan to discuss a "no net loss" provision that would require that redevelopments replace demolished affordable units. The council also will look into providing incentives for developers to require extra affordable housing, once a matrix is complete. They also will consider a land acquisition fund and the option of selling affordable lots to qualified families as an option for developers.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com.

The City Council:

Approved a new rate change for the Haymaker Golf Course, effective this year.

Read a report on a possible recreation center in Steamboat Springs. The council agreed to discuss a separate but related issue, the need for a community center, in March.

Heard a report from the public arts steering committee and recommended that a public art board be formed.

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