Grand County’s moratorium on new bed-and-breakfast accommodations remains in place, as officials continue to review proposed changes to land-use standards that regulate B&B operations within the county’s unincorporated areas.
The Grand County Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday, Aug. 1, to send a proposed ordinance that would approve the changes back to the Grand County Planning Commission for further consideration; Evan Clapper was absent from the meeting.
Grand County Council member Pat Trim said he believes that county officials must consider two separate issues – code enforcement and zoning – as they review the proposed amendments.
“I believe if we don’t do a good job in enforcement, it doesn’t really matter where we put these, because you’re always going to have these same issues crop up wherever they are,” Trim said. “I think that has to be addressed first in order to put some teeth in enforcement, and then let’s take a look at the second issue.”
Grand County Community Development Director Zacharia Levine had recommended that the council send the proposal back to the planning commission for further review, citing the need to improve the clarity, effectiveness and enforceability of the ordinance’s language.
“Personally, I don’t feel that the proposed changes adequately address the interests on multiple sides of the coin,” Levine said. “This isn’t in favor of bed-and-breakfasts in residential neighborhoods or against bed-and-breakfasts in residential neighborhoods; I just think that the planning commission can do a better job of trying to balance the various interests.”
Council members previously directed county staffers to come up with a land-use code amendment that would restrict B&Bs to the county’s Highway Commercial District, as well as subdivisions within an Overnight Accommodations Overlay zone. But that amendment is nowhere to be found in the proposal that came before the council this week.
As it’s currently written, the county’s land-use code allows for B&Bs in residential neighborhoods, whereas regular nightly rentals are only permitted in the Highway Commercial and Overnight Accommodations Overlay zones.
The proliferation of B&Bs in the county’s residential neighborhoods has increasingly led to conflicts with local residents who are concerned about growing impacts from noise, traffic and the changing character of their neighborhoods.
By Levine’s estimates, there are now more than two dozen B&Bs in the county’s unincorporated areas – up from about a dozen two years ago.
“I don’t want to speak incorrectly, but I think we’ve seen what I subjectively call a meaningful increase,” he said.
In dozens of letters to the county, many residents have zeroed in on operations that are not traditional B&Bs, but owner-described B&Bs that are operated more like overnight rentals.
According to Levine, the proposed amendments generated a “tremendous” amount of public comment, with close to or more than 100 letters and emails, according to Levine.
“I think that that is a testament to, first, our engaged citizenry, but also the importance of this issue,” Levine said.
Juniper Drive resident Glenn Sherrill, who is careful to make the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate B&Bs, might speak for many of those people.
Sherrill said that some of the new operations are taking advantage of loose permitting and lax enforcement to insert overnight rentals in neighborhoods that should only allow legitimate B&Bs.
That includes what he calls a “supposed B&B” that is not being operated as a “true B&B.”
“It is basically a mini-hotel in the middle of a formerly quiet residential area,” Sherrill said in a letter to the council. “In contrast there is a true B&B that has been operating in our neighborhood for many years and it is not a problem. The owners are on-site all the time and it does not impact the neighborhood negatively.”
Sunset Drive residents Earl and Teri Underwood live directly across the street from a new B&B. Since the nightly rental opened for business, they said their privacy has been ruined.
“At times there are crowds of people partying on the deck of the B&B,” the Underwoods said in a letter to the council. “Even in the middle of the night we have been woken up by the sound of trucks attempting to park huge trailers loaded with ATVs. The entire character of our neighborhood is drastically changed for the worse.”
Levine said he isn’t aware of any B&Bs that are in the county’s code enforcement pipeline right now. But the county doesn’t necessarily receive reports about every B&B operation that might not be following the law, he said, and several B&B owners would probably be viewed as stretching the existing regulations.
For instance, the county currently requires B&Bs to have an on-site manager who lives in the primary residence; the rooms for rent also need to be located inside the primary residence. If a B&B has a separate entrance and there’s very little interaction between the owner or manager and the guests, Levine said he doesn’t think those owners are formally violating the county’s code.
“But they’re starting to push the bounds of what the code is trying to accomplish,” he said.
Grand County Council vice chair Mary McGann said she wants county officials to consider the effects that B&B development in residential neighborhoods could have on the availability of housing that local residents can afford.
“I’m concerned that if we allow bed-and-breakfasts in every one of our residential areas, we are not only impacting the residential areas; we are also taking away affordable housing opportunities for people, because people would choose to do bed-and-breakfasts over long-term rentals,” she said.
Ultimately, Levine said that his personal feeling is that if the council restricted bed-and-breakfasts to the Overnight Accommodations Overlay zone, there would be little incentive to run a B&B, as opposed to a nightly rental.
“Whether that’s an important consideration or not, that’s up to you all to determine,” he said.
Council sends proposed amendments back to planning commission for further review
I’m concerned that if we allow bed-and-breakfasts in every one of our residential areas, we are not only impacting the residential areas; we are also taking away affordable housing opportunities for people, because people would choose to do bed-and-breakfasts over long-term rentals.