Summit County commissioners debate which short-term rental zone Peak 7 should land in
The board will vote Thursday on ordinance amending short-term rental regulations in unincorporated areas of the county
As the Summit Board of County Commissioners prepares to vote on the second reading of its new short-term rental regulations Thursday, Dec. 16, Peak 7 residents and homeowners continue to express concerns about what direction their neighborhood will go.
The proposed regulations separate unincorporated Summit County into two zones: resort and neighborhood. Short-term rentals in resort zones would continue operating the way they currently do, but licenses would become resort licenses. Neighborhood zones would include the rest of unincorporated county land and would use a three-tiered system for licensing, which is where most of the new regulations apply.
Commissioners also reiterated that the overlay zones are relevant only to short-term rentals in the county and not the actual zoning of the areas.
At a Tuesday, Dec. 14, work session, commissioners dove into possibilities for a hybrid zone that could better accommodate the needs of the Peak 7 community.
At first reading Nov. 23, commissioners decided to move Peak 7 into the resort zone. Many owners on Peak 7 expressed gratitude for this move in November, but on Tuesday, a group of 10 equally passionate owners came to ask the board to move Peak 7 back into the neighborhood zone during public comment.
Peak 7 resident Becky Bower said there is a group of full-time residents collecting signatures because they do not want their subdivision considered a resort zone, as they feel there are already too many short-term rentals in their neighborhood.
Senior Planner Jessica Potter presented four hybrid options during the work session that could put Peak 7 in a “resort residential” overlay zone:
- Cap short-term rentals at 10% to 15% above the current number. As of July, Peak 7 had 115 short-term rentals, which accounts for 24% of the area’s housing stock. Now, the area has 135 short-term rentals, which translates to 29% of the housing stock. A 10% to 15% increase would put Peak 7 between 148 and 155 short-term rentals, which is 31% to 33% of the housing stock.
- Limit occupancy to neighborhood zone standards of two people per bedroom plus two but don’t limit nights rented, which is the resort zone standard.
- Reduce the 100-foot setback between residential improvements required for a Type III neighborhood license. Type III licenses require a conditional-use permit, which must go through the planning department. Potter said she would anticipate an influx of applications for these permits, which require an extensive application process. The commissioners were not fans of this option.
- Increase the allowed number of rental nights for a Type II neighborhood license to more than 135, but all other neighborhood zone standards would apply.
Summit County Manager Scott Vargo said the hybrid overlay zone concept at Peak 7 is something the county would look to implement as a test.
“The main idea is we’re trying to identify this as perhaps this one-year pilot, where we’re able to put something a little different in, get more data and more information,” Vargo said. “… Then this could be a concept that does migrate to other areas within unincorporated Summit County, as well.”
The commissioners were split on the best course of action.
Commissioner Tamara Pogue said she doesn’t think there should be more rental nights allowed in Peak 7 because of its dangerous driving conditions, including unpaved roads with sharp curves and no sidewalks, public transportation or street lights.
“The more nights we allow, the more tourists will go up there with two-wheel (drive) vehicles and get stuck and drive off the roads,” Pogue said. “I just don’t think that is a solution that works for Peak 7.”
Pogue said she was most interested in the first option of capping short-term rentals in the Peak 7 area at around 15% above the current number. Commissioner Josh Blanchard was also a fan of the first option because he said it introduces the idea of caps “in a thoughtful way.”
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she preferred the last option, which increases the number of nights allowed for a Type II neighborhood license. She said doing this for all neighborhood zones would “solve a multitude of issues” as opposed to doing it for just Peak 7.
Lawrence said she thinks Peak 7 works well with short-term rentals because of its close proximity to Breckenridge but that it doesn’t have the amenities or infrastructure of a more traditional resort area like Keystone.
Pogue questioned why Lawrence would object to the opportunity to test the hybrid resort residential approach, considering the commissioners knew it wouldn’t be a one-size-fit-all solution, and that they both originally wanted to do a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach.
Lawrence said she thinks making the move to increase the number of nights for Type II neighborhood licenses would solve the issues at Peak 7 if they moved it back into a neighborhood zone and that a third zone type isn’t necessary.
While commissioners disagreed on the best course of action, they directed staff to include language for a third license type, which would limit occupancy to two people per bedroom plus two but is otherwise the same as resort licenses, to be tested at Peak 7 for a year. Vargo said there will also be an opportunity for commissioners to discuss a potential short-term rental license cap at Peak 7.
The county’s short-term rental regulations include an ordinance, as well as code amendments. Commissioners will vote on second reading of the ordinance at 1:30 p.m. Thursday after taking public comment and will vote on code adoption Monday, Dec. 20.
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