Patrick Delaney: Clarifying the moratorium

Community Agriculture Alliance

If you read the Steamboat Pilot & Today, you are most likely aware of the emergency moratorium regarding buildings more than 50 years old in downtown Steamboat Springs that was recently passed by the City Council. Historic Routt County has received numerous phone calls and e-mails regarding this important historic preservation issue. In addition, we have been incorrectly named as the organization that is spearheading this moratorium. For the benefit of the community, I wanted to clarify the process that has led to the emergency moratorium, HRC's position on the moratorium and eventual historic preservation ordinance.

In March 2007, in a public forum facilitated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and co-hosted by HRC and Main Street Steamboat Springs, a group of citizens concerned about preserving community character and historic buildings from many different organizations formed an ad hoc committee they quickly named "Partners in Preservation." This group put together a list of action items and conclusions regarding steps that should be taken to preserve and protect the historic resources that still remain in Steamboat Springs and brought these concerns to the City Council during public comment at an April meeting.

The City Council acted on the information and set up a series of meetings between City Council members, City staff members and members of Partners in Preservation during the summer. A public work session with the council on Aug. 14 resulted in council direction to staff to create language for both an emergency moratorium and a regular moratorium ordinance calling for a halt to the demolition and exterior alteration of structures over 50 years old within the City. At a City Council meeting on Aug. 21, the City Council heard significant public comment and chose to enact the emergency moratorium but continues to work on an interim ordinance that will replace the emergency moratorium when it expires in 90 days or before. The interim ordinance, if passed, will address some of the contentious issues with the emergency moratorium until a new comprehensive preservation policy is drafted, a public process that will take about six to seven months to complete.

HRC's Board of Directors discussed this issue at our regular meeting on Aug. 22. The Board unanimously agreed that HRC needs to be part of the discussion regarding historic preservation in Steamboat Springs. We will continue to be involved and may even facilitate some public meetings with participation from other organizations.

Historic Routt County continues to be active throughout the county. We are pleased to announce that the Toponas Community Club building restoration has just been completed. HRC was involved in assisting with the restoration of this important community gathering place. It will continue to be used as a gathering place as it has been since it was built in the 1920s. We are nearing completion of our Historic Resources Survey in Hayden and will participate in a public meeting there soon to share the results of that survey with the community. We remain active in soliciting funds for the eventual stabilization of the well-known Diamond Window Cabin near Stagecoach reservoir. Kat Vlahos, professor of architecture at the CU College of Architecture in Denver, and her students are in Routt County this month to continue their documentation and development of the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Historic Routt County has worked for 10 years to preserve and promote the heritage and historic character of Routt County communities and rural areas. We will continue our work to preserve special places throughout the county, and we encourage your participation. Please contact us at 875-1305.

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