Neighbors wary of vacationing renters

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By Vicky Gits

Zoning authorities notified the owner that the rental activity is a violation of zoning regulations, and as of October the case had been turned over to the county attorney for a possible court hearing.

As of Oct. 1, the house owned by Scott McCullough of Evergreen was still being advertised on Vacation Rentals by Owner, (www.vrbo.com) as the “Charming Cabin by the Lake.” The four-bedroom, two-bath house is within walking distance of Evergreen Lake and downtown. A week later on Oct. 9, the listing had been removed.

Messages left on McCullough’s voice mail were not returned.

Unfortunately for Cleo Boyd, 4829 Blue Spruce Road, the spacious patio and front yard of 4799 Blue Spruce faces directly onto her fenceless backyard. This location gives her a clear view of a lot of strangers and their outdoor activities.

“This has disrupted the whole neighborhood,” Boyd said.

Boyd said the house has been rented out since 2006. At first she thought the people were just friends of the owner. But by July 3 there were just too many people to ignore. Boyd claims there have been 18 different rental occupants since July 4.

“(There isn’t) fenced yard. The dogs go all over the neighborhood. One lady lost her dog, and they finally found it over at the library. You don’t mind helping a neighbor, but this is obtrusive,” Boyd said.

Boyd wrote a letter of complaint to Jefferson County Planning and Zoning, which did an investigation and initiated the first violation notice on July 29. McCullough has 30 days to comply. There is an inspection, and if the situation isn’t corrected, the zoning department can take him to court and impose a $1,000 fine.

Jefferson County is considering new regulations that would allow people to rent their houses on a short-term basis (meaning less than a month) under certain conditions. Landowners would be subject to an annual renewal process and the scrutiny of their neighbors.

Enforcement vs. re-regulation

But the idea of making rentals legal is the wrong way to go, says Ross Grimes, who has lived on Blue Spruce for 60 years.

“Just enforce the existing regulations. Don’t change them,” said Grimes. “The new regulations say you can only have two cars. Do you realize what an enforcement problem that would be? You call the sheriff and he says, ‘I don’t do that.’ They don’t. What are you supposed to do? It’s far too complex. It’s a can of worms. We like it the way it is.”

Grimes said the main problem is the narrowness of Blue Spruce Road.

“You can’t pass going two ways. There really is no (turnaround). The curve has been a problem for 60 years. Those of us who live here are accustomed to it. But if you have unfamiliar drivers, you have real potential for serious damage,” Grimes said.

The planning commission held a public hearing on the new regulations for short-term rentals on Sept. 23 but couldn’t reach a decision. Another hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Jeffco Courts and Administration Building.

At a Sept. 29 meeting, the planning commission recommended rezoning for a rental on Edelweiss Circle on Bear Mountain off Stanley Park Drive. But the county commissioners rejected the rezoning request, while they pondered the bigger policy issue of what to do about short-term rentals in general.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-250-1042.

Planning commission meeting

The planning commission will discuss short-term rentals at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building.