Annexation is a big deal. Like the adoption of a child, it puts many responsibilities on the “parent”, in this case the City. Annexation should be to the City’s benefit; not just the developer’s.
One of the important criteria when considering annexation is in our Community Development Code. It says,
“The advantages of the proposed annexation substantially outweigh the disadvantages to the community or neighborhood”.
A major criteria that Lets Vote Steamboat spoke for and wanted the city to include in the annexation agreement was that housing would be provided and the essential local work force that supports our community would be given priority to attain it.
Lets Vote Steamboat! objects to the Annexation Agreement – NOT to annexation
The agreement that is in City Ordinance # 2681 has been described by a council person/s as being “not perfect”. Council’s opportunity to have made it better was there early in negotiations but lost after approving annexation. Why was City Council in a rush to annex?
Lets Vote Steamboat! issues:
Growth: There are a reported 742 units currently in the development pipeline (excluding 450 proposed in WSN). Is the WSN project really needed at this time?
Economic Risk: We know that when a project fails, resolution of problems fall on the local government, so, agreement terms must protect the community – not the developer. We see promises and targets, but no guarantees.
Revenues: Should we (the City) accept the risk of promised, but uncertain revenues that depend on sales of market homes? The current agreement proposes;
- Real Estate Transfer Assessment – this is proposed, but it may not be legal, and there is no guaranteed alternative or performance bond for providing these projected revenues of $ 2,209,481.
- “Firming Funds” for water & transportation impacts. $10.5 million total; 5% (584,000) up front, with 95% ($10 million) in deferred payments to be paid during project development – if it succeeds as planned.
Another financial gamble to the City concerns the $35 million in capital costs for projects that would be partially triggered by WSN. Where would that money come from? The City assumed that 80 to 85% (approx. $30,000,000) would be funded from Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT authorities for our region were contacted have said that this grant money is not available!
Affordable Housing: Lets Vote Steamboat! supports providing housing that is priced for the local workforce that serves our community. We believe that the development’s target market should be our fireman, policeman, teacher, business and staff workers and that deed restrictions should have included limits on assets to curb potential abuse.
Exhibit D of the Agreement sets targets on housing mix and income as a % of AMI. City Council ignored both the guidance of the WSSAP, and a city ordinance by releasing Brynn Grey from its obligation to build 50 units affordable to households earning 80% or less of the Area Median Income ($87,000 in 2018).
As a trade, CC accepted just 2 acres of bare land in lieu of 50 units! In doing that, the responsibility and cost for providing this housing was shifted to the YVHA/City – with no defined building schedule. Would you consider this an equitable tradeoff?
Timing of Deed Restricted (DR) units: There is no requirement in the agreement that DR (affordable) units are to be built concurrently with market rate. Availability of affordable units, a key issue of WSN proponents, may lag behind market units in availability.
Outstanding issues: Why annex before all outstanding issues are resolved? A significant issue that remains unresolved is that WSN has no legal access to Hwy 40 at the CDOT-approved intersection. CC has allowed this to remain unresolved before approving annexation and now has extended it until 2 months after the June 25 special election – if the ordinance is not repealed.
There may also be possible boundary line survey discrepancies between adjoining properties. Again, why the rush to annex before these issues were resolved?
Other concerns: Other concerns that have been brought up such as Council allowing WSN to substitute a water storage tank for the staff-designed looped water supply (12” diameter main) along HWY 40), increased traffic into and through town, downtown parking, adequacy of water supply in worst-case scenarios, impacts caused by secondary units, and, likely some concerns that you yourselves may have. What unknown problems might the City inherit by not making sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed?
Need for an updated Community Area Plan
It is past time to update the long range comprehensive Community Area Plan and City Codes. With that update, we need to establish procedures that do not allow City authorities to change language in the Codes at will.
We are all in this together and we believe that both Lets Vote Steamboat! and Yes to Locals Housing have similar goals and that both groups want the best for our community but have different ideas of what that might look like – let’s keep working on getting the best.
The devil is always in the details!