Buena Vista’s board of trustees met for 5 1/2 hours Aug. 24 to work through a jam-packed agenda and 183-page packet.
The session kicked off with a work session for trustee candidate presentations. These were followed by a straw poll to help guide and inform the board’s motions in the regular session.
Town administrator Phillip Puckett presented a draft of a board of trustees handbook during the remainder of the work session.
In the regular session, Gina Lucrezi was appointed to the board of trustees as the first business item. She then joined the board to vote on the second, a unanimous approval of the Chaffee County Boys & Girl’s Club’s letter of intent to build a new facility next to the community center.
Dustin Nichols, facilities chair for B&GC, shared some preliminary site plans and sketches.
“This is very much in the concept stage. We really want everyone’s fingerprint, to feel like it’s part of the community,” said Brian Beaulieu, the club’s executive director.
“We want to meet the future and build a building that the entire town can be proud of,” he said.
Next, the town’s principal planner, Mark Doering, presented amended ordinances for signs and flags in town.
A member of the public expressed concerns about limits on signs and flags. Town attorney Jeff Parker assured the board that limits to the number of flags and signs and the length of time they can be displayed without a permit are allowed by the Constitution and under legal precedent. The motion passed unanimously.
Puckett introduced short-term rental policy proposals and town special projects manager Joel Benson followed with a brief presentation.
Benson, a former town trustee and mayor, said that STRs in town have been studied by town staff since 2017 when licensing policies were established. He offered some snapshots of the current STR market in BV and projections of potential policy impacts.
He said that connections between STRs and long-term housing are an unknown. He urged the board to consider current policy proposals, aimed at addressing concerns about neighborhood feel and outside ownership, separately.
Seventeen community members offered public comment.
Three identified themselves as realtors and another three as STR property managers for out-of-town owners. Five said they were STR owners.
Almost all the comments expressed concern about the numbers chosen for caps and limits, and their expected impacts. Several commented on the length of time that the public had access to the packet prior to the meeting.
A lawyer representing South Main Street requested that South Main be exempted from the parts of the policy it is not already exempted from. Another member of the public asked why South Main was being treated differently.
The board decided unanimously to continue the time for discussion and public comment to Sept. 28.
In a related proposal and public hearing, Doering introduced an ordinance amendment to clarify definitions for types of buildings and uses (residential building, nonresidential building, mixed use building, apartments, rooming unit) and to clarify the definition of short-term rental.
A member of the public expressed confusion about how kitchens were defined and factored into the related ordinances. Doering said it was related to concerns about STRs being improperly converted to accessory dwelling units.
The proposed amendments were unanimously approved by the board.
The board also briefly discussed then unanimously approved temporary moratoriums on STR license applications and conversion of existing buildings to condominiums.
The first moratorium set a soft date of Oct. 27, to allow staff to focus on STR policy proposals without being preoccupied with application processing. It makes official a de facto moratorium, as staff reported having denied applications since Aug. 11 due to ordinances under consideration.
The second is intended to keep apartments as apartments, and prevent them from being converted to condominiums and short-term rentals, said Benson.
“It’s all about housing availability,” said Duff Lacy, mayor.
This moratorium is in place until Feb. 24.
Town treasurer Michelle Stoke reported all-time record-smashing sales tax collections for the month of June, at over half a million dollars.
“Everything is awesome,” she reported. She offered details and took questions during her quarterly financial report and in her subsequent staff report.
Puckett gave a report reminding the board of Joseph Teipel joining town staff as planning director on Sep. 1 and noting the exit of Shawna Martinez from the Wildland Program coordinator position. Puckett said he hopes to find a replacement for Martinez and continue the program.
Public works director Sean Williams reported a 5% figure for unaccounted water.
“I’ve never seen it that low,” he said. He also provided some updates on paving projects in town.
Airport manager Jack Wyles reported two successful and well-attended events in the month of August.
Finally, prior to adjourning, the board reviewed two letters in support of a covered stage project at McPhelemy Park and attendant budget line item.
The Buena Vista Event Cooperative has raised $1,000 for the project with support from the chamber of commerce. Tom Rollings, director of BVEC, and Melissa Traynham, director of the chamber, wrote to explain why they supported the project and had worked to raise the funds.