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Carbondale Report: BOTT dines with BOCC

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Carbondale’s trustees shared dinner with the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, June 20, for their annual check-in. Peppino’s focaccia sandwiches were served.

Items discussed included regional transportation, affordable housing, rodeos and property taxes. The transportation conversation was prompted by a letter asking the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to facilitate a countywide transit plan in light of population and employment forecasts predicting 40% more residents and workers in Garfield County by 2040. The letter was signed by the county and its municipalities in May.

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“We want people to work where they live,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “That’s the utopia. We as governments need to encourage that as much as we can.”

“Growth needs to be where utilities are,” said Commission Chair John Martin, noting that the county and municipalities desire green spaces between urban centers rather than suburban sprawl.

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“You can see the development we’ve been funneling toward our core,” responded Mayor Ben Bohmfalk. He mentioned that Nathan Lindquist, active transportation section manager with CDOT, responded positively to the letter.

Next, Mayor Bohmfalk summarized Carbondale’s Community Housing Plan, developed in January. He also asked if the county will join the West Mountain Regional Housing Coalition to work jointly toward housing solutions.

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Commissioner Tom Jankovsky rattled off the efforts that Garfield County has undertaken, with inclusionary housing guidelines, loosened restrictions on ADUs, support for Habitat for Humanity and Garfield County Housing Authority, zoning for attainable workforce housing and waiving certain fees.

Samson explained that unless New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute join the housing coalition, the county will abstain. “I’m open minded, but we have to have those other communities,” he said.

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Trustee Marty Silverstein responded, “Looking into the future, the same problems we have with affordable housing [are] already there in New Castle, it’s coming to Silt, it’s coming to Rifle … It isn’t just one municipality’s problem.”

Next, the rodeo topic got heated. Commissioner Martin attempted to preclude this by explaining all the measures taken to address parking, trash and noise. He announced that two of the four traditional Mexican rodeos are now moving to the Rifle fairgrounds, which means the final one in Carbondale will be on Sunday, July 16.

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Nonetheless, several members of the audience interjected that they were not invited to discussions about events scheduled at the Gus Darien Riding Arena. “Smaller events are more conducive to a smaller space,” said one. Another brought to the podium a bag of garbage he picked off his street near the Gus Darien Riding Arena. One woman slapped the podium, exclaiming, “we don’t want events every weekend all summer long.” Several said, “It’s not the rodeo,” in reference to the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo, which is the biggest and most frequent event using the public amenity.

Town Manager Lauren Gister weighed in, explaining there were two meetings with the Town, Mexican rodeo promoters and the neighbors, and a distinct process for events in Town-owned spaces begins each fall for the following year, with approval in January. More effort will be made to notify neighbors of the rodeo grounds in the future, she said.

Lastly, Commissioner Martin explained that every taxing entity has the authority to adjust its mill levy and urged trustees to look into that possibility given historically high assessed property values. “Who has come to our aid every time we needed to raise a tax or float a bond? Turn to your citizens and say, ‘Hey, we’re here for you as well,’” he suggested. “Make it easy on them … because this is a hardship, truly a hardship.”

Short-term rentals
The work session continued with a review of short-term rental (STR) regulations. Gister began with the history, explaining how trustees approved a resolution as a temporary measure to collect data in response to anecdotal stories and concerns by residents about long-term rental options being turned into STRs by investors. Properties already being used as STRs were grandfathered in for a license, but new licenses were only allowed for primary residences or residences within the Historic Commercial Core zone district.

Accordingly, there are 71 licensed STRs in Carbondale, 2.4% of the total housing stock, and 31 are entire houses. There’s an unknown number of unlicensed STRs operating, as the Town has yet to implement enforcement through software.

For comparison, Mayor Bohmfalk cited data collected by the Colorado Association of Ski Towns, revealing 56% of residential units in Breckenridge have STR licenses, 30% in Steamboat, and Carbondale’s percentage is about the same as Glenwood Springs’ (2.3%). With its first dedicated tax toward affordable housing, 6% on STRs approved by voters in November, Bohmfalk’s question was whether to allow incremental expansion for situations that don’t fit the current regulation.

After hearing from several members of the public, primarily representing owners of STRs, the trustees decided to leave the ordinance unchanged for now, allowing licenses to be renewed for two years. As Trustee Chris Hassig stated, “we nipped the runaway train in the bud.”

Arn Menconi represented renters who wish to sublet a room as a STR. As it stands, this is only possible with the owner of the property assuming liability.

Trustee Luis Yllanes considered the new condos at Hayden Place, near the roundabout, with three-bedroom apartments renting as high as $5,000 per month. “I can see where people would want to do that,” he said, regarding short-term leasing a spare bedroom as a renter.

“I don’t want to give too much ground there,” said Hassig, calling it a “good stop gap measure” if the property owner is required to hold the license. 

Other business
The meeting concluded with project updates presented by Gister. Among these, the Crystal River Restoration project will be delayed until after July 15 to protect nesting birds. Aquatics facility construction will not get started until next year, with the 2024 pool season canceled. The Artspace/Town Center project is on track. The multi-modal mobility plan is moving along. Valley Settlement will assist with launching a Latino Advisory Committee.

A new building official, who starts on July 25, will help oversee updates regarding ADUs and energy codes. The Historic Preservation Commission did not receive a grant for expanding historic design guidelines, but Mayor Bohmfalk encouraged them to request funds from the Town. The Nettle Creek project did not receive any bids. Work on the first bulb out on Eighth Street has begun, as well as fixing irrigation at 133 — both undertaken by Town employees to save money. A new pedestrian crossing at Cowen and 133 is expected to be installed this summer.

Lastly, WE-Cycle is set to launch during the first week of August, deliberately after Mountain Fair.

Carbondale’s Daisy Troop 17082 earned “Take Action” badges by providing input on new equipment for the Hendricks Park playground. A ribbon-cutting took place on June 20. Photo by April Crow-Spaulding

Tags: #April Crow-Spaulding #Carbondale Report #Daisy Troop 17082 #emerald ash borer #Garfield County #Girl Scouts #Hendricks Park #housing #Jeanne Souldern #rodeo #short-term rentals #STRs #town trustees #transportation
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