Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday rejected a request to give the operators of vacation home rentals three extra months to come into compliance with an ordinance passed last year.
At its April 8 meeting, the council voted to add the extension to the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday changing the submittal requirements for vacation rental site plans. The move came at the request of property managers who wanted extra time to work with city staff on the prospect of also changing the ordinance's requirement for an access agreement.
Vacation home rentals are residential homes that are rented to short-term vacationers and sometimes used for private functions. The tourism-related industry has fueled clashes between homeowners and property managers for years. An ordinance passed in August 2007 regulating the properties was the subject of quasi-judicial hearings and numerous lengthy meetings in 2006 and 2007. It replaced a similarly contentious 2001 ordinance with one slightly more demanding of vacation rental owners and operators.
The extension failed, 4-3. Last week's vote to attach the extension to Tuesday's ordinance passed by the same margin. Councilwoman Meg Bentley voted in favor of the extension last week but changed her mind Tuesday. Council President Loui Antonucci expressed concern that council's reversal was unfair to the property managers. Councilman Steve Ivancie disagreed because last week's vote merely put the extension to a first reading rather than approving it. The proposed changes to the site-plan submittal requirements were approved independent of the extension.
Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, Ivancie and Councilman Walter Magill joined Bentley in rejecting the extension. Antonucci and Councilmen Scott Myller and Jon Quinn voted in favor of it.
"I think the owners of these commercial activities in residential neighborhoods have had plenty of time to comply with these requirements," Ivancie said.
With discussion veering to whether vacation home rentals should be allowed at all, Myller asked whether the council wanted to reopen the entire controversial discussion. Resident Bill Jameson begged the council to stick to other priorities.
"It was divisive last time," Jameson said. "It will be only more divisive this time. : Let this ordinance work that you've got on the books, and then see what the problems are."
Also Tuesday, council members were mostly in favor of a proposed historic preservation ordinance that would replace existing city policies. The ordinance was prepared by a citizens' committee and would not mandate the preservation of any properties in the city. Owner consent would be required for eligible properties to be listed on a local historic register, at which point they would have to adhere to mandatory design guidelines and other regulations. A revised version of the ordinance will be presented to council in coming weeks.
In their pre-application review of the planned St. Cloud Resort & Spa development at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, council members were much more open to the scale of the project than their Planning Commission counterparts. Although its height at some points is roughly double city allowances, four of seven council members said they did not have a problem.
Quinn said the project as proposed is more attractive than some neighboring properties.
"If we have something that overshadows the architecture of the Steamboat Grand," he said, "I think that's a good thing."
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