Stagecoach latest remote area to boom
STAGECOACH, Colo. (AP) – Lisa Lesyshen and her family moved to Stagecoach six years ago because of the privacy and the incredible views of the surrounding mountains and reservoir.But exponential growth in the Stagecoach area 20 minutes south of Steamboat Springs quickly is changing the landscape for Lesyshen and others, and making Stagecoach one of the hubs of residential development in Routt County. The rapid changes also are rekindling interest in transforming Stagecoach into an independent, incorporated municipality.In 1971, there were 133 homes in rural Stagecoach, home to Stagecoach State Park and once meant to be a ski resort. That number has grown to 421 this year. Most of the growth occurred from 2001 to 2005, when 95 single-family homes were built – the most growth the area had seen in 30 years. And the trend is expected to continue.This year, 54 homes have been built in the area. Routt County planning officials estimate there could be as many as 640 homes there by 2010 if growth continues as expected.”I think we’re beginning to ask ourselves what is going to be the threshold of development for the county to consider it enough?” she said.Developer Brian Stahl said the subdivision he’s building will be fundamental to Stagecoach’s future.”My goal is to create a vibrant, friendly, dynamic residential community,” he said. “Stagecoach is a fantastically beautiful place and it has a lot of potential, but there are also a lot of challenges facing the area.”
The Stagecoach area originally was platted in the 1960s and ’70s to be Colorado’s sixth-largest ski area. The area was designed by Woodmoor Corp. to sustain more than 2,000 single- and multifamily housing units to create a healthy, bustling community similar to what Steamboat Springs is today.But that vision never became reality, and Woodmoor filed for bankruptcy in the late ’70s, leaving the area with an underdeveloped infrastructure and a lack of direction.Woodmoor’s dream of a major ski area eventually was replaced with a focus on residential growth and only moderate commercial development. That residential growth has taken off in the past few years, particularly as families have been forced to look beyond the city limits of Steamboat Springs to find affordable housing.Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said the most pressing concern Stagecoach residents have raised is the condition of the county roads that lead to the community.”With the development that is going on, we’re seeing more and more traffic all the time out on (Routt) county roads 14, 16 and 212,” Stahoviak said. “That is one of the big issues that keep coming back to us.”Paving or improving county roads 14 and 16 could cost millions of dollars. It’s not a bill the county can pay.”If the residents of Stagecoach want something different to happen, they themselves have to figure that out,” Stahoviak said.Road maintenance is not the only demand created by Stagecoach’s growth. It may also strainging water and sewer service, said Steve Colby, general manager of the Morrison Creek Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District. The district owns 500 acre-feet of water stored in Stagecoach Reservoir, but it would cost a significant amount of money to build a pumping station to access that water. If the district opts to provide surface water instead of well water, it would have to build a water treatment plant. A small treatment plant could cost between $1 million and $2 million, Colby said.
Incorporating Stagecoach is a concept that continues to float through the community. Resident Chris Zuschlag said the idea might become a reality sooner than later.”I think that within the next three to five years that’s the direction we will be heading,” he said. “Right now, we’re just looking for community input to determine what the advantages would be. It’s something we’re trying to figure out.”Stahoviak said incorporation is a difficult undertaking. Phippsburg, Yampa and Clark still are not incorporated municipalities, she added. Incorporating Stagecoach is further complicated by the fact that the area has no commercial core and does not bring in any sales tax revenue.”There would be no reason to incorporate unless the area can generate enough revenues to support itself,” she said. “Unless you have a commercial core generating sales tax, that would be very, very difficult to do.”Without the combination of property and sales tax revenues to support such an endeavor, the residents of Stagecoach most likely would have to tax themselves to provide the moneys necessary to sustain the town.Sue Kimes, president of the Stagecoach Property Owner’s Association, thinks incorporation could reach fruition in the next 10 to 15 years if the county and Stagecoach residents begin the work now. Revisiting the Stagecoach Community Plan, which lays out growth policies, will be crucial to that process, she said.”Our board has been looking at models of what has happened to other communities around ski towns like Basalt, Edwards and Glenwood Springs. We anticipate that what has happened there is going to happen in Stagecoach, and when it does, we want to be prepared,” she said.When Lesyshen first moved to her home on Arapahoe Road, there were five houses in her neighborhood. There soon will be 13.”It’s amazing how much has been built out here,” she said. “I moved here because our house was off the grid, which I liked. I had a great view, I loved being outside in the summer and I didn’t have neighbors. Now it’s almost a certainty that someone could build right in front of me.”Stagecoach’s future also will be, at least in part, determined by growth elsewhere in Routt County, but regardless of where people choose to live, Kimes thinks residents will continue to move to Stagecoach.”It’s inevitable,” she said. “As Steamboat continues to grow, so will we. We’re going to continue to see this trickle-down theory of people moving away from Steamboat into places like Milner, Hayden, Oak Creek and Stagecoach.”
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