Peak 7 designated a neighborhood zone in final reading of new Summit County short-term rental ordinance |

Peak 7 designated a neighborhood zone in final reading of new Summit County short-term rental ordinance

The county’s next step is to vote on code adoption Monday, Dec. 20

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

Summit County’s short-term rental moratorium has officially ended, and in its place is a short-term rental ordinance that places the Peak 7 neighborhood in a neighborhood zone.

The vote took place during an extended Summit Board of County Commissioners special meeting Thursday, Dec. 16, which marked the last day of the county’s 90-day moratorium and the deadline for when the board needed to pass a new short-term rental ordinance. After hours of public comment about whether the Peak 7 neighborhood should be classified as a resort or neighborhood zone, the commissioners came to a decision in a vote five hours after the meeting started.

The commissioners originally voted to classify the neighborhood as a resort zone during the ordinance’s first reading in late November. In the weeks leading up to the second reading, the county received a substantial amount of public input leading up to the vote on the second reading. Case in point: Nearly 100 virtual attendees tuned in to Thursday’s meeting and another few dozen spoke in person. Most of the attendees spoke about Peak 7, and over half of those who spoke were in favor of designating the area as a neighborhood zone.

Earlier this week, the commissioners debated whether the area should be classified as a resort zone, where short-term rentals wouldn’t be limited, or a neighborhood zone, which would place limits on the licenses depending on the license type. They even suggested creating a hybrid zone that combined elements of the two.

A few of those who spoke in favor of designating Peak 7 as a neighborhood zone included Breckenridge residents Bill Webster and Carol Christiansen.

“I only ask that all neighborhoods be treated equally under the new short-term rental ordinance,” Webster said. “Any ordinance that singles out any neighborhood to bear more or less of the impact of (short-term rentals) identified in current code is, on its face, unfair.”

Christiansen agreed with Webster and told the commissioners she didn’t understand why Peak 7 was classified as a resort zone in the first reading.

“Residents of Summit County — not just Peak 7 — are scratching our heads to find out why you’ve chosen Peak 7 as a pilot program, or as a guinea pig, for making it easier for short-term rental properties,” Christiansen said.

Other concerns residents brought up were regarding nuisance issues related to noise and trash, how frequent car accidents occur on the neighborhood’s roads and parking issues.

Those who spoke in favor of keeping Peak 7 as a resort zone mostly thought the classification should remain standing because of the unlimited number of nights they’d be able to rent their units. In resort zones, short-term rentals are not limited to a number of nights per year; instead, they will operate as they do currently. In neighborhood zones, most short-term rentals will operate as a Type II license, which caps the number of nights a unit can be rented at 135 per year.

A few of these individuals — some of whom own properties in Peak 7 and some of whom own properties elsewhere — said they’d bought their properties with the intention of generating a primary source of income once they retired. Others, such as resident Joelle Miller, said she’d like the freedom to rent her property on Peak 7 if she chooses to do so in the future.

“By limiting the number of nights, you will create a new set of problems,” she said.

At the end of the public comment period, Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence — who lives in Breckenridge — said she felt “uncomfortable” designating Peak 7 a resort zone.

“I know these folks,” she said. “I used to live in Peak 7, and these were my neighbors and people that I know, and so I’m a little worried we’re singling out Peak 7 right now and not similar neighborhoods such as Mesa Cortina or looking at some other areas,” she said.

At the beginning of the meeting, Senior Planner Jessica Potter presented a proposal that could put Peak 7 in a “resort residential experiential district,” but after public comment, Commissioner Tamara Pogue said she was also uncomfortable with this. Pogue said she was worried about an annual limit on the number of nights that would only apply to Peak 7. In the future, she said she thinks Peak 7, along with other neighborhoods, needs to move in the direction of a hybrid zone.

Commissioner Josh Blanchard was in agreement and said he believed the language used to differentiate the two zones doesn’t help the strained nature of the conversation, either. Blanchard said that by calling the zones “resort” and “neighborhood,” it forced community members to think in black and white.

Blanchard also apologized to those who might have felt like he or anyone else at the county inadvertently made Peak 7 residents feel excluded from the community as a whole.

“What really struck me is that … folks living in Peak 7 weren’t part of our community, weren’t part of the workforce, weren’t looked as residents, weren’t a sense of a neighborhood,” Blanchard said while addressing those concerns. “And I apologize if I made anyone feel that way because I don’t feel that way at all.”

During the meeting, Lawrence also expressed her discomfort with the annual 135-night limit on Type II neighborhood licenses. She said she believed that it should be increased to 180 nights per year. Pogue pushed back, saying that since the county wasn’t capping the number of licenses or greatly reducing occupancy in neighborhood zones, this was one of its only levers to reduce the “intensity” of short-term rentals in those areas.

Ultimately, the commissioners decided to move forward with the 135-night limit and reevaluate it for a hybrid zone in the future.

The county’s short-term rental regulations include an ordinance as well as code amendments. Their next step is to vote on code adoption Monday, Dec. 20.

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