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Carbondale Report: Trustees revisit STR ordinance

Locations: News Published

All trustees were present at the regular meeting on Sept. 27.

As part of their annual budgeting process, the board continued to hear updates from partners, including Senior Matters and Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER).

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But first, during general comments by trustees, Lani Kitching announced that Wilderness Workshop will have a booth at Potato Day to keep people informed about efforts to permanently protect the Thompson Divide from drilling. Kitching also gave a glowing review of the Business Confluence hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 21. Lastly, she announced that Coventure is now back to 100% occupancy after two rough years due to COVID.

Mayor Ben Bohmfalk reminded the public that their next work session, focused on housing, will be held on Monday, Oct. 3, at Town Hall.

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Next, trustees appointed Carbondale resident Stephanie Bergner to serve as the municipal prosecutor, replacing Angela Roff who was appointed to be the new Garfield County Court judge in Glenwood Springs.

During the Senior Matters update, former trustee John Hoffman handed around gift packages which included little spray bottles labeled “loving gratitude”, a flashlight and boxcutter. He affirmed that although the organization has moved out of their physical space at the Third Street Center, they continue to meet and host online webinars.

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“COVID changed our game, we fully embraced Zoom,” said Sue Zislis.

This update was followed by two special event liquor license approvals. The first was for KDNK Community Radio’s Halloween dance party at the Third Street Center on Oct. 29. The second was a River Bridge Regional Center fundraiser at the Thunder River Theatre theater on Oct. 22.

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A memorandum of understanding between Carbondale and other municipalities, medical providers and Garfield County, to establish a regional detox center, was tabled while added language is reviewed by attorneys. The topic will be discussed on Oct. 25.

Trustees then took a moment to review the allocation of marijuana and tobacco taxes, both of which have been declining.

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“Funding is declining, but not to the point it’s going away any time soon,” stated Town Manager Lauren Gister. She suggested leaving cushion in 2023 in case dollars are not as high as anticipated or something like funding a detox center comes up, to give trustees flexibility to make those decisions on the fly. Historically, medical marijuana funding has supported mental health counseling in schools, as well as Hope Center programming that provides police with an on-call mental health expert.

“Youth programming at parks and rec would maybe be a fit,” observed Trustee Erica Sparhawk, reflecting on youth comments from the week before.

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“I would support that 100%,” said Trustee Marty Silverstein. “Another thing, scholarships. No kid should be deprived of participating in an athletics event… if we can’t support that, as wealthy as this community is, shame on us.”

Trustee Luis Yllanes agreed, suggesting that helping to pay for outdoor programs would be a good use of funds. He elucidated that given recreational marijuana legalization in more states, the wholesale price is in decline which will likely continue to result in lower tax revenue.

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The next item that trustees discussed was short-term rental (STR) regulations. Following up on an ordinance passed in March, 65 STRs have been licensed within town limits, roughly 2.5% of the town’s housing stock, with 29 listed as primary residences and 36 as second homes.

Gister said it is clear that some properties are continuing to operate STRs without a license, but a process for enforcement is lacking. She also invited trustees to revisit any other aspect of the ordinance, which now limits licenses to properties that are the applicant’s primary residence, or on the same property, or located within the Historic Commercial Core zone district.

After hearing several public comments, Mayor Bohmfalk recommended the board wait to revisit the ordinance until their proposed 6% STR tax is voted on this November. Then, changes to consider include enforcement, notification, assuring license numbers are placed in advertisements, acquiring software to assist staff with identifying STRs in town limits, specifying proof of primary residence requirements and considering exemptions — for medical personnel, for example, as requested by one member of the public.

Lastly, trustees met with representatives of CLEER for a detailed update about strategies and opportunities to lessen the town’s carbon footprint. The full meeting is available to review on the “Town of Carbondale” YouTube channel.

In other news, the Comprehensive Plan update will come before Planning and Zoning for a vote on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. The draft is online at www.carbondalegov.org

Parties interested in partnering on the 1.4-acre Town Center development downtown are required to submit their qualifications to towncenter81623@gmail.com by Oct. 19. Details are at www.carbondalegov.org/top_alert_detail.php

Tags: #Carbondale #Carbondale Report #CLEER #short-term rentals #STRs #trustees
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