The first reading of a proposed ordinance regulating short term rental properties and requiring a license to operate one was held Dec. 10.

The commissioners plan to adopt the 10-page short term rental ordinance Dec. 30. It will take effect Feb. 8.

The full ordinance is required to be published in the local newspaper before adoption and by title plus any changes after adoption. (See the ordinance on  p. 13).

The ordinance can also be reviewed on the Park County website at www.parkco.us.

License fees will be set by a board of county commissioners’ resolution. Fees will cover the administrative and personnel costs associated with developing, implementing, inspecting and enforcing the ordinance.

Commissioner Dick Elsner said the license will designate how many people are allowed in the rental at one time. That number will be based on the size of the septic system.

Commissioner Ray Douglas asked how it will be determined if the house is in a sanitation district that provides sewer service.

Elsner replied the number of bedrooms would determine how many could stay in the home.

Commissioner Mike Brazell said some people don’t support a license because the use of the property doesn’t change. Others are in favor of short term rentals in their neighborhood as long as renters don’t violate the rules.

“It is an issue if too many people stay there (at one time),” Brazell said, “They can ruin the septic system, violate the fire code and the noise code.”

He said noise is the biggest complaint they receive from neighbors about short term rental properties.

The ordinance states it will apply to all short term rentals in all zone districts and will not apply to “hotels, motels, lodges or bed and breakfast establishments, or to properties with long-term leases.”

Eric Henderson said more time was needed to get an initial license application packet together before the ordinance was effective Feb. 4.

Elsner said owners would have 90 days to comply.

Henderson asked why a septic system would need an inspection if no problem existed and why the fireplace would need an annual inspection when that isn’t required of homeowners in general.

Elsner said a septic inspection would be required only if the county didn’t have documentation that it was permitted.

Scott Dodge, a realtor and member of the Fairplay Town Board of Trustees, said Summit County doesn’t have issues with loopholes in long term leases.

The ordinance defines a short-term rental as being an accommodation unit that is available for lease for a term of less than 30 days.

Dodge said owners are using long-term leases to get around needing a short term rental license. One example he gave was having a long-term lease that allows the same person to rent the property for four or five months but only on weekends.

Dodge hoped the commissioners would be proactive and address the issue in the ordinance.

Elsner said it wouldn’t matter if the lease was a long term lease if the property was being used as a short-term rental.

The ten-page proposed ordinance has 11 sections covering such things as requirements in the license application and annual renewal, contact information for the responsible agent of the property, reasons for and a hearing required for suspension and revocation, and required life safety standards. It also states the structures need to be in sound condition and in good repair.

Other sections of the ordinance cover what is required in a lease agreement, such as occupancy limits, where to park, no recreational shooting, no ATVs or other non-licensed vehicles on county roads.

Wood burning fireplaces and stoves are allowed inside the house, but no ember-producing fires are allowed outside the house.

Linda Clay asked what a neighbor should do if someone has a campfire during a fire ban. She also asked that a list be kept of renters who caused problems and violated the ordinance.

Elsner said to call the sheriff’s office. He said the ordinance requires a specific list of rules, including no fires allowed, be part of the welcoming packet so people are aware of the ordinance and violations.

Since renters are informed that campfires are not allowed on short term rental properties, neighbors should not contact renters to inform them of a fire ban. Elsner said it could lead to a confrontation where someone gets hurt and he doesn’t want that to happen.

Andre Lobato was concerned that the owner of a short term rental could be held accountable for violations such as renters having a campfire. He asked if the county would keep a list of problem renters.

Elsner said that needed some clarification in the document.

District One Commissioner-elect Amy Mitchell said impacts would be less for those not renting out their property full time and that should be considered.

Mitchell also said renewing each year was a burden for owners and asked who would pay for any necessary inspections.

Elsner disagreed with regards to both issues. He said renting a property for four to six months out of a year could result in as many violations as renting fulltime. It just took one group of people.

Elsner also said the paperwork for a renewal would be simple and not burdensome.

To Mitchell’s third question, Elsner said the county’s cost would be in the license fee.

He said changes had been made to the ordinance after a work session with the public was held. Items raised at the Dec. 10 reading and comments received after Dec. 10 would be clarified or added, if needed, before adoption.

Vouchers in the amount of $162,597 were approved for payment.

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