Steamboat Springs A 3.21-acre parcel of land to the north of Old Town is another step closer to being annexed into the city of Steamboat Springs for future residential development.
But before the Steamboat Springs City Council makes the final vote on the matter, it wants city staff to do some more homework and create a planning document that will ensure the potential annexation and any subsequent ones are more legally sound.
Local attorney Paul Sachs, who lives across the street from the undeveloped land that is proposed to be annexed, called on the city Tuesday to terminate the annexation proceedings because he said the city hasn't created an important planning document that state law requires to be in place before an annexation can occur.
The plans are commonly referred to as Three Mile Plans, and cities create them to lay out their vision for how annexed lands will develop in the future.
Sachs said such plans are created as part of a public process and incorporate the public's appetite for growing in certain directions and areas.
A 261-page communication from Sachs, which included the copies of several Three Mile Plans from other communities, was included in council's agenda on Tuesday.
City staff counters that they feel the city's Community Area Plan is essentially a Three Mile Plan but with a different name.
City Attorney Dan Foote also noted appellate courts in the state have held that comprehensive plans such as the city's Area Plan qualify as Three Mile Plans.
The Area Plan was created with public input, including a board game that had community members place poker chips to indicate where they would like to see growth in the future.
It also has been updated since it was first adopted in 2004.
However, the spectre of potential legal challenges over future annexations because of the lack of a Three Mile Plan spurred a slim majority of the council on Tuesday to order one before considering the annexation.
"I don't like the word debatable," Councilman Jason Lacy said as he advocated for the city to create the new Three Mile Plan.
He said the city might be meeting the letter of the law with its existing plan, but perhaps not the spirit.
Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said the city could create a Three Mile Plan without doing an intensive amount of work.
Sachs said he felt the city would need a more involved process to create one.
Councilman Scott Ford suggested that the Three Mile Plan was unnecessary work.
"I hesitate to throw a burden on staff and add another wrinkle in what we have," Ford said.
He shared staff's opinion that the city already has a Three Mile Plan that is just called by a different name.
He added that he was not aware of the existence of Three Mile Plans prior to the council meeting, and he predicted most community members would shrug when asked about them.
The council voted, 3-2, to deem the parcel near Old Town eligible for annexation but also have staff create a Three Mile Plan before the annexation is considered at a later date.
Ford and Councilwoman Heather Sloop were the no votes.
Sloop expressed concern about approving the eligibility resolution prior to the formation of a Three Mile Plan.
Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said she wanted a Three Mile Plan to address the potential impact an annexation would have on public works services including transportation, utilities and water and sewer.
If the parcel is annexed, the zoning would be determined at a later date.
Some neighbors of the parcel, which lies at the end of Pahwintah and Douglas streets, have expressed concern about the annexation and the potential for more dense development in the area and the impact such development would have on the neighborhood.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10