The question of whether to annex the Brown Ranch into the city limits of Steamboat Springs will be decided in a public vote, city council decided on Tuesday, a move that will delay when the first units at the development will be available.
In a 4-3 vote, a majority of Council President Robin Crossan and council members Joella West, Heather Sloop and Ed Briones voted to approve the agreement and delay implementation until the voters weigh in.
“We’re a few steps away from getting this right,” Crossan said. “Tonight, we’re one step away from getting it wrong.”
“I’m proud of the annexation agreement … I am very happy with the document,” West said. “I am not happy with the actual solution of how this project gets financed. … My preference at this point is to say we have done everything we can do, here is what the project looks like right now. You the citizens of Steamboat deserve the ability to vote this up or down. It’s your future.”
The three dissenters, Council members Michael Buccino, Gail Garey and Dakotah McGinlay, each felt annexation did not need to be referred to voters, noting that a city-wide vote would miss many of Steamboat’s workers who are forced to live out of town because of the lack of housing.
“Over 2,000 of our workforce is commuting every day to Steamboat and they won’t have a vote on this if it goes to referendum,” McGinlay said.
“This town is losing the people we want to be part of this community,” Buccino said. “What we do know right now is we are losing our workforce and without a workforce, we are going to lose this economy.”
According to data from the Colorado Futures Center, Steamboat Springs has lost 1,000 workers since 2010 and residents age 25 to 45 are disappearing the fastest. A housing needs analysis conducted by the housing authority found Steamboat needs 1,400 units now and more than 2,200 by 2040 to meet the demands of local businesses.
Dylan Anderson 10/11/2023 Yampa Valley Bugle