Town gives nod to annexation

Not allowing local, national, or global economic forecasts to steer the tiller, the Pagosa Springs Town Council moved on several annexations Tuesday night that would embody growth for the town — at least in a geographical sense.

Proposed earlier in the summer, two parcels, known in conjunction as “The Goodman annexation,” were given an initial nod of approval by council for both zoning and annexation. Located along Cemetery Road, a 7-acre tract on the south of the road between the first two bends and a 15-acre tract west of the road just past the second bend, were approved on first reading of an ordinance for annexation into incorporated Pagosa Springs. Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance assigning an “A-District” zoning designation to the properties, allowing for single-family residential units with densities restricted to 5.8 units per acre.

Procedurally, a second reading of the ordinance and its approval by council is required for finalizing the annexation.

Set for a second reading, the Blue Sky Village annexation and rezoning issues were tabled until the Dec. 18 mid-month council meeting due to the lack of a revised annexation agreement from Blue Sky Village representatives.

Approved on second reading was the establishment of 20-year vested rights for the Mountain Crossings property. As reported in the Nov. 13 SUN, the Mountain Crossing development is located at the southeast corner of U.S. 160 and 84. Vested rights extend time limits on proposed developments, assuring developers that a municipality won’t affect changes in statute or agreements to the detriment of the proposed development. By Home Rule charter, Pagosa Springs can extend the time period for vesting rights and did so in May 2008 when it gave BootJack Management five-year vested rights on downtown properties.

In other business, council approved a conditional use permit for the operation of the Burrito Stand trailer on East Pagosa Street. Open to public comment, local business owner Cappy White voiced some opposition to the proposal, saying that temporary vendors, “Look trashy and give the impression to the visitor coming to Pagosa Springs that we’re letting anyone open up shop.”

White added that temporary use permits give vendors an unfair advantage, saying, “My suggestion is, if you’re going to allow this kind of business, raise the business license to $2,500 and level the playing field for those of us with permanent businesses who pay property taxes.”

Thanking White for his input, Mayor Ross Aragon took exception with some of White’s comments, saying, “I think ‘trashy’ is going too far. Look at LoDo in Denver; that’s not trashy and they have all kinds of vendors. I think it’s unfair labeling people trying to make an honest dollar as ‘trashy.’”

Council members Darrel Cotton and Shari Pierce agreed with White on the matter of business licenses. “I agree,” said Cotton, “we need to level the playing field.”

Town senior planner Joe Nigg offered an avenue for a solution to the matter, saying, “Council may want to consider that the new Land Use and Development Codes will revise temporary use permits and there may be a need for a new, revised fee schedule.”

Council also approved an IGA with the county to formalize ongoing payments ($30,000 annually) from the Conservation Trust Fund. The IGA would commit the county to payments for the next five years and the monies would be dedicated to park acquisition, creation, and maintenance.

Revenue reports were a mixed bag, with lodging tax receipts reported down 2.8 percent from this time last year but September sales tax receipts showing an increase of .28 percent for the year to date, a .14 percent increase from this time last year.

Council approved a first reading of an ordinance that would allow council members to attend meetings via telephone conferencing. Cotton, while supporting the spirit of the ordinance, stated that the idea would require some provisions, saying, “Theoretically, we could have no one here because we’re all at home on the phone.”

Pierce concurred, saying that council would work to refine the ordinance and that, “Provisions will be put in before the second reading.”

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners once allowed telephone conferencing. However, the current board voted to disallow attendance through electronic means due to overuse of the policy and technical limitations.

Town Manager David Mitchem suggested council and staff look to other municipalities concerning how they structure their policies regarding attendance via phone. Questions of quorum, valid reasons for calling in, and frequency of use would most likely figure into any provisions the council might establish. However the provisions are formulated, whatever prevents the council from “just phoning it in” should mollify most voters.