Local Government Scene: Woodland Station, STR Rules and Creek Election Fever Top the List for Coming Week

Rick Langenberg

Woodland Station jackpot, or yet another miss; STR rules in Green Mountain Falls; and election fever in Cripple Creek.

These are some of the highlights of  key local forthcoming government action in Teller County and the lower Ute Pass, after a brief reprieve from official activity.

The development of Woodland Station, a project that has eluded city leaders for several decades, appears to be heading forward with the new TAVA House, a planned event center and multi-use project. Or at least, it appears ready for a stroll to first base.

But once again, the big missing part of the puzzle involves infrastructure.

The Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority will hold their monthly meeting on Oct 4 at 7:30 a.m. More details could be unveiled regarding the progress of development plans, proposed by the Waggoner group, which has  made a cash offer for 6.3 acres of Woodland Station. This real estate transaction is scheduled to close at the end of October.

Already, this project has moved past previous hurdles. However, big questions still remain over the cost of the infrastructure and who will front the expenses. Infrastructure has been a big issue that has blocked previous developments at Woodland Station, including a one-time proposal to construct the Aquatic Center there. Plus, environmental-related hazards at the site are another huge concern. At a previous meeting, much discussion occurred over benzine plume contamination at part of the site.

But a vastly new DDA board wants to give developers more say in what they plan to do on the property, and to reduce some of the regulations.

Down the Pass, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening will once again take another stab at crafting rules pertaining to short-term rentals. However, Mayor Todd Dixon has indicated that the board is not in any rush to finalize the rules.

Unlike other communities in the area, GMF doesn’t have any debates on the number of STR units, with the town maxed out at 60, a number that should be reached shortly. Instead, much of the controversy deals with the rules for operating these units, and assuring that no one is doing STRs under the table in GMF.

The town had an earlier public workshop on the issue and has done a draft ordinance. But the trustees want to fine-tune these rules. They are trying to balance the concerns of local neighborhoods versus the property rights of short-term rental home owners.

One area of contention deals with owner-occupied STRs, and whether these properties should receive more latitude.

In Cripple Creek, election fever is alive and well with three ballot issues on the plate this November, two dealing with opening the door for  the sale of retail marijuana. The other issue concerns a one-penny cent sales tax hike.

In addition, a group of citizens are seeking to recall two current members of the city council. But this later effort, if it moves forward, would have to occur at a special election. Commentary on this ouster campaign has been extremely mixed among proponents and critics of the effort.

This week, it isn’t clear if any comments will be voiced regarding these issues. But in recent meetings, public comment has  hit the jackpot with no shortage of views on key issues.

At this week’s meeting, Cripple Creek City Administrator Frank Salvato may announce the time for a town hall forum to unveil the city’s plans to seek an ambitious slate of  grants, topping the $10  million mark, by footing major money into infrastructure development. “We need to extend utilities to platted lots,” said Salvato, in a recent interview.

The city is making a major bid to up the ante in infrastructure improvements with major grant pursuits with the state.

He has cited affordable housing, infrastructure and the landing of a daycare center, as  some of their big current pet projects. “Housing is probably our biggest hurdle,” said Salvato. And he believes if the town expands its infrastructure network, it could lessen the burden for developers.

In addition, the city is trying to bring back certain festivals, such as the Cripple Creek Ice Fest and even add other traditional events.  The subject of marketing and special events is a topic that  has sparked many debates since the beginning of gambling.

The city’s previous decision to no longer sponsor any special events, other than their July 4th celebration, ignited the ire of some small business operators.

A town hall forum may showcase these issues more and allow the town to allow department heads a time to present more details

But if residents are looking for debates on the forthcoming marijuana ballot issues, they may be disappointed. The forum won’t include discussion on these issues, according to Salvato.