Judge’s ruling blocks controversial downtown Steamboat apartment project

A Routt County judge has effectively blocked the construction of a controversial apartment project in downtown Steamboat Springs that was criticized by several community members for being too tall and too big.

In a ruling issued last week, Judge Shelley Hill reversed the Steamboat Springs City Council’s approval of three variances that would have allowed the 60-unit apartment project to be taller, more dense and closer to the street than city codes allow.

The City Council justified the variances by stating the city’s height and density codes presented an “unnecessary hardship” to the developer, and the developer needed the variances to make the project profitable.

But Hill found that the city’s rationale for approving the variances at 1125 Lincoln Ave. was a “misapplication of the law” and an “abuse of discretion by the city.”