Conejos BOCC okays short-term rentals, closes a road

CONEJOS — The Conejos Board of County Commissioners have been busy approving progress, including the opening of two short-term rentals.
A public hearing was held May 2 on the application of William and Shirley Knox for a short-term rental -- overnight lodging -- in Rocky Mountain Estates near Rocky Mountain Lodge.
The final vote was postponed until the second meeting in June, when it was approved with one condition: That the special use permit would not be transferred if the property was sold.
Opponents cited declarations in covenants by developers limiting the area to single dwellings and the Knox application sought two dwellings.
Shirley Knox appeared by phone and pointed out the short term rental would mean additional tax revenue for the county and the use shouldn’t affect commercial property in any way.
Land Use Administrator Linda DeHerrera said the owner of Rocky Mountain Lodge had expressed no opposition to the Knox plans.
Letters from neighbors opposed turning the structure into rental property, becoming commercial property in a residential area, which could set a precedent for other businesses.
One letter pointed out that overnight lodging is essentially a commercial business and would introduce auto traffic into what is a quiet cul-de-sac.
Shirley Knox maintained the area is not a gated community and shouldn’t have restrictive covenants.
County Attorney Nicolas Sarmiento pointed out deeds and covenants are “extraneous facts” and overnight lodging is included and defined in the land use code, which governs this application.
Special use reviews are allowed in all zoning, with a special use review, he said, and the BOCC must determine if the applicant has met all standards of approval.
BOCC members based the decision solely on the land use code.
In addition to the Knox permit, Land Use Administrator Linda DeHerrera said a special use permit for a short-term rental on the Maestas property in rural Conejos County was approved, with no opposition.
While rentals were being added, a road was abandoned in the Ortiz area due to the fact that a new one had been built.
Another road vacancy, proposed by the Hostetters, was tabled because the proponent didn’t appear. It will be heard Aug.15, DeHerrera said.


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