Steamboat Springs, Housing Authority arrive at Brown Ranch annexation agreement language
City council will consider a resolution approving the agreement next week, but that doesn't annex the Brown Ranch. Actual annexation will be considered in October.
After another meeting that extended late into the night on Tuesday, Steamboat Springs City Council and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority have completed the draft of the Brown Ranch Annexation Agreement that council will consider approving in a resolution next week.
The 36-page agreement has been in the works since the start of the year and represents seven months of negotiations between the city and housing authority. While seven months is a long time, this annexation agreement has come together in just a fraction of the three years it took to get an agreement with Steamboat 700 developer Brynn Grey Partners.
“Everyone has worked super hard,” Council President Robin Crossan said. “We’ve been baking a cake since February. Is it done, or do we still have more ingredients to put into it?”
The next step is for council to consider approving the annexation agreement via resolution next week. There could be more minor revisions to the draft annexation agreement before that happens, though changes are not expected to be significant. While a big step, the resolution does not approve the annexation of Brown Ranch. That needs to be done with two readings of an annexation ordinance, which needs to also be heard by the Planning Commission. The planning commission is scheduled to consider annexation on Sept. 28.
After that, the annexation ordinance will be considered by council on Oct. 10 and 17, based on timelines outlined in documents prepared for Tuesday’s council meeting.
In her remarks, Crossan indicated that one decision council will have to make in October is whether to refer annexation itself to voters. While there is a Brown Ranch funding question on the ballot in November, this question is not about annexation, but rather about the city making a commitment of short-term rental tax dollars to the housing authority for Brown Ranch.
When asked by The Yampa Valley Bugle in June, there was not a clear majority about referring annexation itself to a vote either way on council, with two feeling it should go to voters, two feeling it shouldn’t and three undecided.
Last month, a resident speaking in public comment told council that if they do not refer the question to voters, there was already a group ready to get the signatures needed to force the issue to a vote. If council does refer annexation to a vote, it would likely take place in a special election this spring.
Council has received criticism in recent weeks for not referring annexation to the November ballot already, an option that has not realistically been available.
If annexation was to be referred to this November’s election, Council and YVHA would have needed to finalize an annexation agreement more than a month ago. Council would have needed to approve the agreement via resolution and then an ordinance before any referral could take place. As the agreement has only recently gotten to a near-finalized state, has yet to be officially agreed to and as the annexation petition still needs to go through the planning process, referring annexation to this November’s Ballot hasn’t been a realistic option for months.
Council member Heather Sloop indicated that next week’s vote to approve the annexation agreement will not be unanimous, as she said she will vote against it. Her key concern continues to be the capital funding gap on the city’s side and the lack of a clear plan of exactly where all of that funding will come from.
“There’s so many unanswered questions, and the biggest one out there is the fiscal deficit,” Sloop said. “I can’t as that (fiscal) agent support this.”
In response, Council member Gail Garey said she believes the community can’t afford not to annex the Brown Ranch. She also noted that the fiscal analysis is not a full economic analysis, and does not factor in the benefits having available affordable housing could have for local businesses, community organizations and the city’s sales-tax fueled coffers.
“We are a precipice. Steamboat is going to grow with or without Brown Ranch,” Garey said. “We have a choice in terms of what kind of community we want to be. … Housing is the priority.”
Council will meet next week to consider approval of the annexation agreement via resolution, which is essentially council saying they agree to the terms of the annexation agreement. YVHA’s board will need to do the same.
On Sept. 28, Planning Commission will consider the actual annexation of the Brown Ranch and make a recommendation to council. On Oct. 10, Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance to annex the Brown Ranch. Second reading of that ordinance is currently slated for Oct. 17.
Top Photo Caption: A printed copy of the latest draft of the Brown Ranch Annexation Agreement. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)