The Steamboat Springs City Council will hold what might be one of its most consequential public hearings of the year later this month to discuss how new neighborhoods in west Steamboat might impact the city’s water system.
The water supply question has dominated early discussions about a development proposal for west Steamboat, with one resident repeatedly raising concerns and calling the question “the biggest nut to crack.”
The council itself decided last month to hold off on considering a potential pre-annexation agreement for the new neighborhoods until the water discussion took place.
The 90-minute discussion will occur Oct. 25, and it could be the first in a series of public hearings about the potential impacts of adding hundreds of new homes on the western end of the city.
In September, city officials briefed the council about the city’s water needs and how new development might necessitate costly new infrastructure.
Jon Snyder, the city’s water collection and distribution superintendent, told the council the Elk River holds the greatest opportunity to both bolster the redundancy of the city’s water supply and accommodate the build out of new neighborhoods within Steamboat’s urban growth boundary.
Snyder said pipes to new developments in west Steamboat would be projected to go dry at a build-out level of 20 to 30 percent with the city’s current water infrastructure.
“The best (information) I can offer you is we’re looking at $15 million to $20 million in infrastructure costs on the Elk River to make the west Steamboat area expansion a reality,” Snyder told the council.
City staff is currently negotiating the terms of a potential pre-annexation agreement with representatives of Brynn Grey, a real estate development company.
The agreement will outline how much city staff will be reimbursed for its time in vetting the potential annexation.
Several council members have made it clear they want the city to be reimbursed, regardless of whether the annexation is approved.
Brynn Grey has been gauging council and community interest in establishing about 1,600 new housing units on the former Steamboat 700 parcel.
The developers envision their housing plan will take 30 years to fully realize, with an estimated 25 to 40 homes going up each year.
While council members have expressed concern about how such a large planning proposal might impact the workflow of city staff, several members, including Council President Walter Magill, have labeled the housing proposal as a positive opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.