Craig City Council meets about development codes, residents unhappy with government

Craig City Councilor Gene Bilodeau - the architect of the city's Wednesday night public meeting on its planning, zoning and building codes - said the discussion would be the first of more.

"This is a step to change," he said to a crowd of about 30 residents and city officials at Craig City Hall.

Where the city needs to change its regulations and policies, it will do so, he said.

Bilodeau organized the meeting during the past few weeks after public concern arose regarding a local builder's plan to relocate a development at the old Country Mall site to property and instead build in Moffat County partly because city requirements to build new curbs and sidewalks made it too expensive to build.

None of the comments at Wednesday's meeting addressed that specific case, but the audience raised several issues, such as the size of residential garages and requirements to plant trees.

Scott Cook, owner of Cook Chevrolet and board president of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, said his biggest problem dealing with the city of Steamboat Springs on a building project was the time it took to finish the planning process.

It might be better if Craig Planning and Zoning could offer meetings once a week from spring through the summer and fall building season for developers to finish projects faster.

Not all comments were negative.

Cook said the city's process should be a balance between letting people have reasonable flexibility on their projects and making sure Craig is a desirable place to live.

"With EDP, we've had developers come in and tell us if we want more development, Craig has to look nicer," he said.

However, the codes themselves may not be the end of the discussion.

Many of the audience's concerns were with city government's relationship with the community.

DeRose said most of the complaints he hears aren't about codes, but their enforcement.

City staff tells some contractors they have to do things that aren't in the codebook, he said.

Craig resident Shannan Koucherik said a city employee lied to her a few years ago about a project she was developing.

"A city employee, a supervisor, flat-out lied to us," she said.

Koucherik said her issue wasn't resolved until she made him print a copy of city codes and took her issue to the mayor at the time and Community Development Director Dave Costa, who supervises the building department.

She added that Costa was one of the only reasons her project got off the ground.

Another man in the audience said city government has always been hostile to people who aren't rich.

"There's a huge amount of inequity in the way the city enforces its rules around town," he said. "The city of Craig is very anti-anybody doing anything unless you're Wal-Mart, the college, the hospital or somebody really big."

Bilodeau responded that Koucherik's and the man's comments represented "unacceptable" behavior on the part of city officials, and that would not continue.

DeRose thanked him for wanting to improve community relations but added the city needs come through on Bilodeau's pledge.

People and businesses are choosing to develop in the county because they think city officials won't listen to them, DeRose added.

"I think it's a very dangerous road for this community to go down," he said.

City officials plan to organize a follow-up meeting in the future where residents can offer specific suggestions on ways to fix development codes. No date or place has been set.

Comments

nativegirl 4 years, 7 months ago

I am glad to see that some who serve in government are still listening to the people they serve... and I would hope that government officials everywhere would take note of this attitude. After all, the entire purpose of government is to serve the citizenry, not to dictate to them. Kudos to you who do know the difference!

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