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Dolores continues to study short-term rental rules

Town manager retained through 2022; bike club to build new trail

During their meeting Monday, the Dolores Town Board was not ready to decide on proposed regulations for short-term rentals. They also gave a bike club approval to build a new trail in town, and extended Town Manager Ken Charles’ contract to fall 2022.

The board needs time to iron out details on short-term rental regulations in town, officials said. After a first reading is approved, a second reading, public hearing and board vote will follow.

At Monday’s board meeting, a motion for the first reading of the ordinance failed by a vote of 4-2. Board trustees Melissa Watters and Andy Lewis voted to have the first reading. Mayor Chad Wheelus and trustees Val Truelsen, Jen Stark, and Tracy Murphy voted against having the first reading.

Stark said she felt the board needed more time to address issues and work through differences before a vote on the first reading.

Town Manager Ken Charles said he anticipates the proposed regulations will be revisited at an upcoming meeting.

“More discussion on some points is needed,” he said Tuesday, including what the cap should be, and occupancy limits. “I think we will be able to address concerns and find a way to move forward.”

The proposes limit for short-term rentals in town is 20. Currently, nine are in operation.

Short-term rentals offer guest accommodations in a home or a portion of a home for typically less than 30 days for a fee. They are often sought by vacationers, or workers who travel. The town does not have regulations for short-term rentals. They are being considered to ensure public safety and minimize potential neighborhood conflicts.

Proposed regulations would require all short term rental owners to obtain a commercial permit for the service, pass a safety inspection, and include appropriate parking, plus others.

During the March 16 planning and zoning meeting, community members expressed views about short-term rental regulations. Linnea Peterson said occupancy limits need to accommodate traveling professionals who may require a stay of more than 30 days. She said short-term rental regulations should not be stricter than for long-term rental property owners.

Chris Curry, who owns and operates a vacation rental in Dolores, requested that the town require only that short term rental properties comply with health and safety requirements prescribed by building codes. Minimal regulation will allow revenue streams from short-term rentals to enter Dolores, he said.

Mark Lowe commented that he thinks the town is creating regulations that are unnecessary and hurt property owners. Another short-term rental owner was supportive of the health and safety regulations, and cap of 20.

Dolores Community Trail gains traction

The town signed an agreement with Southwest Colorado Cycling Association to build a non-motorized trail in town from 14th Street at no cost to the town. The trail would continue up a drainage next to Road 31, and eventually connect with the Boggy Draw Trail system. Easements with private property owners are being negotiated by the bike club, Dolores, and Montezuma County. The new trail is intended to reduce pedestrian and bike traffic on Road 31 that accesses Granath Mesa, the Norwood-Road, San Juan National Forest and local trails.

Manager contract renewed

The board approved a contract extension with Town Manager Charles until the fall of 2022. He works as an independent contractor, and was paid $105,850 in 2020. Charles has 30 years’ experience working in the government field and was the former regional manager of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Since hired, Charles has acquired over $800,000 in grants for community projects in town. As manager he helped to oversee the creation of new commercial marijuana ordinance, the building of a new playground, upgrades to the water system, pandemic management, bringing solar power to town buildings, protecting the cliffside from development, and upgrading the town website to include government information and documents.

Other Dolores news

Dolores is in the process of reviewing one application for a retail marijuana business, and two other marijuana businesses have expressed an interest to locate in Dolores. One is for a retail and one is for edibles, with possible light manufacturing.The town plans to offer free internet service at Joe Rowell Park. The plan is to install the equipment on top of the baseball scoreboard and broadcast the signal from there. NetForce PC will be installing the equipment soon, and internet access is expected to be available this month.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

Dolores is in the process of reviewing one application for a retail marijuana business, and two other marijuana businesses have expressed an interest to locate in Dolores. One is for a retail and one is for edibles, with possible light manufacturing.The town plans to offer free internet service at Joe Rowell Park. The plan is to install the equipment on top of the baseball scoreboard and broadcast the signal from there. NetForce PC will be installing the equipment soon, and internet access is expected to be available this month.

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