Green Mountain Falls Trustees Referee Bitter Neighborhood Dispute

STR Community Meeting Set For July 26

Rick Langenberg


It didn’t exactly rival a Hatfield versus McCoy-type feud, but last week the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees found themselves playing the role as STR (short-term rental) referees.


In the end, the board cited current limited regulations and enforcement powers and agreed that more rules could come, following a community meeting on July 26 at the Sally Bush Community Center. But as for right now, elected leaders say their STR regulatory hands are tied.


At issue was an appeal filed by Kathleen Snow, a long-time resident of Green Mountain Falls, who has complained about the explosion of vacation rentals in her neighborhood and contends that the residential integrity of GMF is at stake. She opposed a new STR application at  10971 Iona. “My quality of life, mental and physical, has been affected by the constant traffic, and annoyance of the VRBR (in question),” said Snow.


She cited a laundry list of concerns dealing with loud noises at night, people smoking pot outdoors, only feet away from her property, parking problems with some individuals getting stuck,  illegal use of her driveway, fuming septic odors and  drones flying over her property and an excessive amount of renters.


In essence, she wanted the trustees to deny a bid by property owner Brad Miller, or impose more regulations, for an additional STR in the area, arguing that the neighborhood is getting ruined.


Snow appeared previously before the trustees and discussed the overall issue of STRs, and provided the board, with regulations imposed in such communities as Boulder. She had favored a temporary moratorium, action that has already occurred in Cripple Creek, and now in Woodland Park. But at the request of GMF attorneys, this possible action, including a proposed moratorium measure, was withdrawn.


Miller argued that he has done everything he can to try to appease Snow.  “There was nothing I could do to satisfy Kathy  It just doesn’t exist,” said Miller.


He didn’t see any problems with parking and said he even made an agreement with a property owner in the area, who will allow the use of part of his driveway for overflow parking.


Ironically, both Miller and Snow agreed on the issue of developing more long-term short-term rental regulations in  GMF.


But Miller made it clear that the town should not follow the example of Boulder. “I want to go on record that I don’t want to be Boulder,” Miller said he would like to volunteer as a member of a possible future committee, representing STR owners, regarding  the adoption of more STR rules.


Even with these gestures, tensions definitely existed between Miller and Snow. “I am sorry my personality has been slandered,” replied Snow, who argued that she has tried to meet with Miller regarding these issues and got nowhere. “This is my last resort.”


The trustees mulled a possible compromise between the parties, such as maybe having more limited parking and more septic inspections.


However, City Clerk Nate Scott cautioned that it had little enforcement powers, based on the current code. He stated that their office initially expressed concerns over a shed and trailer, located on the property, and requested these items be removed. According to the clerk, Miller met these requirements.


Other than the issue of parking, he stated that the trustees could not delve into such matters as septic clean-up standards.


“It is tough to make a rule,” said Trustee Sean Ives, who owns a variety of STR units in town. He said he hoped community residents could work out these conflicts on their own, without government involvement. “Law enforcement is very limited. Hopefully, some type of resolution can be made between the parties,” said Ives.


The trustees also had to tread cautiously, as this particular appeal could amount to a test case for future policies regarding STRs.


The trustees unanimously denied Snow’s appeal of the STR application, citing the current code limitations.


But with that decision, the board urged Snow to attend the community meeting on July 26, as the town will mull some more long-term regulation policies pertaining to STRs.


Mayor Todd Dixon admitted the town currently has virtually no rules pertaining to the handling of STR applications. He believes the town will soon reach its 60-STR license cap within GMF, and doesn’t see this limit getting expanded.


Similar to other towns, the GMF community wants to craft a balance between residential concerns and the rights of property owners. Financial issues also come into play as STR revenue in GMF amounts to more than $100,000 per year.


Marshal Museum

In other action, Dixon gave a short update of a mayoral forum he did at the Green Box Arts Festival, when he addressed key issues He stated that residents liked the idea of turning the old marshal’s office, located in the main downtown core, into a historic site.  The office was eventually closed due to a number of health issues, but forum participants raved about preserving this property and  maybe converting it into a museum.


Residents say this building enhances the “Mayberry RFD” feel of the community’s law enforcement tradition.


Dixon cited possible grant and fund-raising opportunities for such a project. This was one project that  took center stage at the recent mayor’s forum. It even rivaled concerns about roads.