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  • Dylan Anderson

Residents behind campaign to defeat Brown Ranch want seat at table of next annexation talks

Council has a work session scheduled for next week to discuss the next steps with Brown Ranch.

Residents behind the Citizens for a Better Plan campaign that was victorious in last week’s defeat of Brown Ranch annexation say they want a seat at the table during the next round of annexation talks.

Steamboat voters soundly rejected annexation by 16 percentage points on March 26, a plan that would have built more than 2,200 new units over the next 20 years. A central message of the campaign against Brown Ranch was that the project was too big.

“We assume that conversation will eventually turn into discussions about another annexation. We think we have something to say about that,” said Jim Engelken with Citizens for a Better Plan. “We have productive ideas and would like to be part of the conversation and future annexation discussions.”

Council has a work session planned for next week to discuss the next steps with Brown Ranch post-election. Council President Gail Garey said the Yampa Valley Housing Authority has been invited to participate in that discussion.

Council did not discuss the idea of having someone from the Citizens for a Better Plan campaign join in on that conversation. Council does allow public comment in work sessions, though several in public comment noted that was not sufficient input.

“If YVHA is openly sitting at the work session next week, then somebody from the other side of the table should be at that work session as well — and not just for a three-minute comment,” said former City Council member Heather Sloop. “Trust is going to need to be rebuilt by this council and by the Housing Authority.”

YVHA Executive Director spoke in public comment as well, saying that they intent engage the community about the next iteration of the Brown Ranch and that they would share more details about what that looks like next week.

“The Housing Authority has heard the community and we intend to spend the next several weeks, months listening to the community about what it is that we do next related to Brown Ranch,” Peasley said. “We still have a housing problem and that it’s still our mission and what needs to be addressed, but we also know that we need to spend quite a bit of time listening.”

“We still own the property, we still intend to address the housing issue that we have, however, we are going to take some time to listen before we make any decisions with how to move forward,” Peasley continued.

Prior to public comment council had a brief discussion about what they hoped to accomplish at next weeks work session. Council President Gail Garey said the intent of the work session isn’t to “rehash” the election, but decide how to move forward.

“We certainly heard last week that there wasn’t community support for the proposed development plan at Brown Ranch,” Garey said. “It’s really the intent to make sure that we are all on the same page and can have a discussion regarding a process for how we move forward.”

In his comments, Council Member Michael Buccino said he did think people from Citizens for a Better Plan should be part of the next iteration of planning for Brown Ranch.

“The process that we’re going to define at the work session is really going to outline how we move forward, whether we get voices from the opposition who clearly won this past election,” Buccino said. “I would like to see them in a room with us and the housing authority to come up with a brainstorming idea that everyone is amicable with.”

Buccino’s phrasing of Citizens for a Better Plan as “the opposition” didn’t sit well with some of them in public comment, noting that they represented a majority of constituents.

“Three out of five of the voting populous is your constituency, they are not the opposition,” said Cedar Beauregard. “Reflect on that.”

Engelken said in his comments that the city council should not negotiate the next annexation agreement, saying that it would be better for city staff to do it, or for the city to hire a professional negotiator. He also stressed that they should not go into executive session as frequently either.

“Keep it out in the open, there’s very little reason to go into executive session,” Engelken said.

Sloop added in her comments that the process to get another annexation agreement should not be fast, rather it needed to take time.

“The next one should not take three to six months,” Sloop said, referencing a timeline suggested by Buccino in comments made to The Yampa Valley Bugle after last week's vote. “This has to be vetted and not just by the Housing Authority.”



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