~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The search for top employees in Green Mountain Falls isn’t just limited to a new town manager.
With concerns mounting over the short-term, vacation rental situation, code enforcement, zoning, land use and building issues, GMF recently hired a part-time planning technician.
Julia Simmons, who actually has previous experience as a planner in Hawaii, has joined the Green Mountain Falls staff on a part-time basis for 20 hours per week. Simmons also has spent time on the Manitou Springs Planning Commission.
The position has been on the radar for months. In fact, shortly after he was hired as an interim town manager, Jason Wells cited a need for a planner.
He said he often fielded many planning and building-related questions on a regular basis. In fact, of all the future needs confronting the town, planning was mentioned as a top priority, shortly after the town government embarked on a reorganization effort in 2018.
One of Simmons’ big priorities will be handling the processing of short-term rental applications. After many delays, town leaders last year finalized the process of setting the guidelines for annual licenses for these properties that are growing dramatically. In fact, it is possible that the town could have between 40 to 50 short-term rental properties on the books this summer.
Green Mountain Falls has always maintained a reputation as a prime vacation hub for the summer, a trend that has escalated in the last several years. This tide fell off somewhat during the economic crash of 2007/2008 but appears on the rebound in recent years.
Also, voters okayed last November a new nightly occupational fee on overnight stays for all lodging properties, including short-term vacation homes. This tax is paid by overnight guests. It replaces what was formerly referred to as a lodging tax. As a result, these fees could mean a lot more revenue for the town government.
Wells contended last year that he didn’t have the time to handle these requests for short-term rentals. The issue often commanded much discussion locally, pitting vacation home owners against local residents in certain neighborhoods.
Eventually, town leaders crafted a compromise and agreed to cap the total amount of licenses permitted throughout the town on an annual basis.
In addition, the town has faced growing concerns over code and building issues. To top matters off, the town is in the process of finalizing its comprehensive master plan, a project that occurs every 10 years.
Simmons began her duties during a recent planning commission meeting. She currently lives in Manitou Springs.
With the addition of this position, the town now sports an interim town manager, a town clerk/treasurer, a public works maintenance worker, a marshal and part-time planner. Within the near future, the town will have a full-time town manager