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Routt County GOP Statement on Brown Ranch

The Routt County Republican Central Committee urges eligible city voters to consider all material impacts related to the proposed Brown Ranch annexation and development before voting.
Rather than endorse a position on the election and propose to direct citizens how to vote, the Routt GOP believes the best approach is for the voters to make an informed choice. After the YVHA has presented almost 40 public meetings where only the benefits of the proposed Brown Ranch are offered, we want to share some of the concerns expressed by our members.
Conservatives believe that healthy and competent people should provide for themselves and not rely on taxpayers for basic necessities, including housing. Although most conservatives support housing assistance for the elderly and disabled, as well as temporary housing assistance for those experiencing hardship, conservatives do not support massive public housing projects that are centered on housing for healthy and competent people employed at for-profit private companies. The conservative view is that businesses are responsible for their own labor expenses and shouldn’t depend on taxpayers to subsidize their for-profit operations.
In the current housing environment, most conservatives support housing assistance for essential public workers, such as police, fire, teachers and medical services as a component of their compensation. Our members have expressed concerns about a model that allows private for-profit businesses to enjoy reduced operational labor costs and higher profits because of the contributions of taxpayers. We believe these private businesses should manage their own affairs and not rely on taxpayer funds.
Routt County Republican members also expressed concern over the lack of inclusion in the vote of all county residents who are impacted. These GOP members recognize the current environment only allows city residents to vote on a major annexation. The county residents commuting to work in the city and those doing business and recreating in Steamboat from west Routt communities would be impacted in some ways as much as it would impact those that live in the city. A better plan would be to devise a more inclusive process where everyone significantly impacted in these potential community changes has a voice.
Looking at the proposal from a practical standpoint, it’s difficult to understand the reasoning to build the second largest public housing development in America, with a population larger than the town of Breckenridge, in our small town of roughly 15,000 residents. The plan’s additional 6100 residents will add 45% to current Steamboat city residents.
Many Routt County Republicans feel building a public housing development in Steamboat Springs, Colorado that is larger than any public housing development in cities with millions of residents like Los Angeles or Chicago would be a terrible mistake.
GOP members expressed concern over the environmental impact of such dense development, including the suitability of the soil composition for the development proposed, and the impacts on wildlife and community character.
Additional concerns expressed by our members are related to the impacts of road infrastructure and traffic. As highway 40 into town is restricted through downtown Steamboat beginning at the Library, there are legitimate concerns over the impact of what has been estimated to be over 17,000 additional vehicle trips per weekday at the 13th Street bottleneck. The $70M in proposed highway 40 improvements will not solve the bottleneck. The City’s Public Works Director claims the city has not developed a plan to resolve the “bottleneck” at 13th Street. These members are concerned about the traffic impacts that increased volume will bring, knowing the roads can’t be widened to accommodate the increased volume.
Routt GOP members have expressed concern over the impacts of YVHA property being exempt from property tax. This creates an issue where there are healthy and competent residents living in taxpayer subsidized public housing that are consuming services through districts including the school and fire district, but not paying into those districts for those services.
Many Routt GOP members expressed concern over the financial outlook of the project, considering the City’s Finance Director has already estimated a $52M funding shortfall. Projects of this magnitude regularly experience cost overruns and even a small percentage of such a large project can be a very large amount for such a small community as ours.
Concerns were also expressed over the 20-year commitment that’s proposed for the project. GOP members are concerned that unknown variables over such a long duration could materially alter the feasibility of the plan. As a result, the project as proposed represents future risks that cannot be predicted or managed effectively.
Generally speaking, the sentiments expressed from the Routt GOP Central Committee members range from ‘don’t build it at all’ to ‘scale it back significantly and include county voters in the process.’ Because many of the above concerns have been missing from the public meetings held by YVHA, the Routt GOP Central Committee believes it is imperative that these realities be presented and considered before any vote to achieve the best and most responsible outcome.
We’re blessed in America to have the right to exchange ideas and let elections decide such important matters for our community. The Routt County Republicans encourage everyone eligible to vote in the Brown Ranch annexation election on March 26 to consider the information provided above and cast your vote carefully.
Ken Mauldin
Routt County Republicans


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