New short-term rental regulations put into place after final vote by Summit Board of County Commissioners

The latest meeting was a formality, but some community members still pleaded with the board to reconsider

The Summit Board of County Commissioners placed a moratorium on new short-term rental license applications at its Sept. 14 meeting. That moratorium expired Thursday, Dec. 16.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

The special meeting hosted by the Summit Board of County Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 20, was just a formality. On Thursday, Dec. 16, the board voted to adopt a new short-term rental ordinance just as its temporary moratorium expired, and the meeting Monday was to wrap up final loose ends.

The county’s short-term rental regulations include an ordinance, as well as code amendments. While the vote was one of the last steps needed to put the new regulations into place, community members still came to voice their opinions.

One such individual was county resident David Agran who said he hoped nuisance complaints regarding short-term rentals would be resolved quicker than they had in the past. Agran said he also appreciated that the board is examining the potential to create a hybrid zone — which could combine characteristics of a resort zone and a neighborhood zone — that could be applied not only to the Peak 7 neighborhood but also other areas in the county.

Agran wrapped up his comments by asking the board and county staff to compile more community feedback as they continue through the process.

Others also stressed that they’d like the board to weigh more community feedback, especially from those who are not in favor of some of the board’s decisions. One such individual was county resident Taryn Brooke, who said she’d like to get more of an explanation on the fees in the new ordinance.

“Even if this isn’t the appropriate time to make changes, I would just encourage that it is fluid and that we do have a chance to further vet these concerns and if there are future opportunities for an amendment or a proposal in the coming year,” Brooke said. “We just want to see how that’s either being rationalized and explained better or that changes might need to be contemplated on the fee structure.”

Meaghan Richmond spoke against the board’s new regulations. At the meeting Thursday, Richmond spoke in favor of designating the Peak 7 neighborhood as a resort zone. She said she runs her business out of her home in the neighborhood, part of which includes operating it as a hostel. On Thursday, she told the board that limiting the number of nights she can rent out her home will have a dramatic impact on her primary source of income.

On Monday, Richmond read some comments from other community members and finished speaking by asking the board to reconsider its direction.

“Don’t strip us of what we’ve been building ourselves up to be,” Richmond said. “I don’t want to find a new job at 35 (years old). I’m crushing it and everything I want to do with life, and again, my house is that portal for healing, just like this community is, so please rethink everything. Please, because I see this going in a really downward spiral super negatively (and) super quickly based on what I’m hearing.”

County resident Todd Ruelle agreed with Richmond and told the board that instead of creating more rules for short-term rentals, they should be examining “bedroom communities” where, through collaboration with other counties, more housing could be built in towns like Alma, Fairplay and Leadville.

“This is spiraling fast and the argument is going to become, ‘Hey, what are you going to do to compensate us for the property you’re infringing upon,'” Ruelle said. “You have to take that into consideration. You’re imposing rules and regulations that take away financial compensation, all in … trying to solve the issue of employee housing.”

Ruelle said the county needed to look at a “tri-county solution” and said he believed that just because someone works in Summit County doesn’t mean they have the right to live here.

“You live with what you can afford,” Ruelle said. “People in Washington, D.C., live in Maryland and Virginia and as far out as West Virginia, but this is what the commissioners should be focused on, not dividing a community by taking away property rights that literally have been exercised over the last 50 years or more.”

Even still, the board approved the code amendments and told audience members that they’d continue to examine various issues and components of the new rules throughout the next year.

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