Sports Shooting Park approved with Clear Creek County partnership
By Randy Beaudette
Gilpin Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) kicked off 2021 with their first meeting of the year on January 5th to tackle issues such as New Zoning Restrictions, Central City Opera performance at the Community Center, a joint venture with Clear Creek County to establish a Sport Shooting Park and an ordinance to establish fines for parking on County roads.
Board-Chair Gail Watson opened up the meeting promptly at 9:00 am along with Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart. Also joining online were County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and members from the Senior Leadership Team. Commissioner Engels disclosed that he is on the Executive Board of Directors for the Central City Opera Association and stated that he doesn’t believe his position constitutes a conflict of interest in the decision of issuing a Special Use Permit to the Opera Association.
NOTE: This is a summary of the highlights of this meeting. For all the issues addressed at this meeting got to www.co.gilpin.co.us.
COVID 19 Vaccinations
Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong briefed the online audience by sharing that there have 130 positive COVID cases recorded in Gilpin County since March 2020 which brings the County to a 4.6% positivity rate. There have been 168 “Phase One” vaccinations administered since December 28th when the vaccines arrived. “Phase One B” vaccine recipients will soon follow. To schedule an appointment for the COVID vaccine call Gilpin County Public Health at 303-515-4342 (Monday thru Thursday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm). According to Kelly Schossow from the Gilpin County Public Health, testing will continue on Tuesdays as usual with vaccinations scheduled to be administered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Vaccines are available on a limited basis and current supplies will only last until the week ending January 8.
CDPHE 5 Star Program
Gilpin County Commissioners considered an application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for the 5 Star Program as presented by Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya. According to covid19.colorado.gov website, the CDPHE 5 Star program requires businesses certified through the program to implement safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders and guidelines that will help slow the spread of COVID-19, and in doing so, they will be able to expand operations. This program is for responsible businesses that are following public health guidance, and going above and beyond to prioritize the health and safety of their staff and customers. Depending on the county’s level and metrics, certified businesses may be eligible for less restrictive capacity caps. 5 Star certification reassures employees and customers that businesses are adhering to enhanced guidance in other areas. The program is completely voluntary for local governments and also serves as an expanding directory of establishments recognized for their efforts to keep their communities safe and open. Currently Gilpin County is Level Orange which allows for a 25% business and casino occupancy. If approved by CDPHE, the 5 Star Program will allow casino table games and a 50% occupancy. The concern expressed by Commissioner Watson is that Gilpin County Public Health might be overwhelmed with the vaccinations, testing, and the possibility of additional inspections associated with the 5 Star Program. Manager Montoya suggested several solutions such as entering into InterGovernmental Agreements with Black Hawk and Central City to administer the inspections or hiring a third party for the inspections. However, this option will possibly incur an application fee to businesses who wish to enter into the program. Gilpin County BoCC decided to postpone any decision on the 5 Star Program until more information on resources and logistics is available.
Revised Zoning Regulations (Public Hearing)
Gilpin County Senior Planner Steven Strohminger presented a revised version of the Gilpin County Zoning Regulations to the online participants. The Gilpin County Strategic Plan (adopted May 2019) lists long range planning as one of the County’s top three priorities. Staff applied for and was rewarded a grant from the Colorado Department of Local affairs (DOLA) for the development of a Comprehensive Plan and the accompanying of changes to the Gilpin County Zoning Regulations. The Comprehensive Plan contract was awarded to DTJ Design and the project began in February 2020. Public input played an important part of the development process with three countywide surveys, four community workshops, three interagency task force meetings, six public updates to the BoCC, and ten plus work sessions with the County Planning Commission. Most of the changes to the regulations are focused on new construction, subdivisions, and short-term rentals. Transfer Development Rights provisions have been clarified and are now align with the Comprehensive Plan. Wildlife corridors, seasonal grazing grounds along with wetlands are now more protected than in the past zoning regulations. Lighting regulations changes will ensure compliance with the “Dark Sky” initiative. Regulations concerning forest mitigation to prevent wildfires have also been added. The long list of changes sparked many comments, mostly against, from the folks online. Comments ranged from past regulations that were deleted, inconsistencies in the new document, and if projects in process would be affected by these new regulations. If approved, the new regulations will take effect around March 2021. Commissioner Engels made a motion to approve the amended Zoning Regulations with a direction to staff to address the lighting standards, the Transfer of Development Rights options, and the wildfire regulations and present them to the BoCC at a later date. Motion carried with two “yes” and one “no” vote.
Central City Opera Fairground Use Application (Public Hearing)
The Central City Opera Association submitted an application for a Temporary Use Permit that will allow the rental the Gilpin County Fairgrounds from June 8, 2021 through August 6, 2021 for the 2021 Opera Festival Season. The Opera Association proposes a large 100 feet by 160 feet tent be erected in the gravel parking lot to serve as the performance venue, along with two tents 20 feet by 20 feet for technical needs. Audience seating will consist of 372 individual seats grouped in COVID appropriate pods of two to four seats per pod. Seats would be placed twenty five feet from the stage, and guests would be required to wear masks at all times, with hand sanitizer available. Several comments in opposition to the plan ranged from the tents will add an element of difficulty in utilizing the arena and barn complex, which is also an evacuation center as seen during last summer’s wildfires, to the impositions the venue will placed on the residents and visitors of Gilpin County. By a unanimous vote, the Board of County Commissioners declined the use permit application on the grounds that this venue is not a good fit for the Community Center complex and would be a great imposition on the residents of Gilpin.
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Director Tracy Phillips revisited the C-PACE initiative with the possibility of a Resolution approval during this session of the BoCC. C-PACE is a program that will help finance improvements to existing commercial buildings along with energy efficiency and sustainability in new construction. State Legislation passed in 2015, created the New Energy Improvement District which is recognized statewide. Individual counties need to voluntarily to opt into the C-PACE program in order to receive any benefits. This legislation allowed the State of Colorado and Colorado Energy Office to develop the privately funded C-PACE program. Energy improvement loans taken through C-PACE are “Assessed” loans meaning that payments are made through the assessed taxes County rather than individual payments to the program. If an owner sells a building, the new owner is responsible for the assessed taxes plus the repayments back to C-PACE. As an incentive for a county to opt in, C-PACE will reimburse 1% of the project cost back to the County for administrative costs. According to Mr. Phillips, there are 36 counties in Colorado that have opted in. C-PACE has financed 82 projects across Colorado with a total value of around $95 million dollars. In order for Gilpin County to opt in, a resolution agreement must be approved by the County Commissioners. The C-PACE Program Resolution will most likely show up on an upcoming agenda for approval.
Sports Shooting Park
Clear Creek County Special Projects Manager Lisa Leben submitted a proposal to the BoCC that will develop a partnership between Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties to develop a sports shooting park. The proposed park will be on the site of the current Clear Creek shooting range. Cost of the new complex will be around $2.8 million dollars. An application for an $850,000 grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife will soon be submitted, a $1.35 million dollar grant request from GOCO, a partnership contribution of $400,000 from Gilpin County, and the remainder of the cost will be provided by Clear Creek County. A motion to partner with Clear Creek and to allocate $400,000 for the purpose expanding the current shooting range to a regional Sports Shooting Park passed unanimously.
County Road Parking (Ordinance 21-01)
Gilpin County Attorney Brad Benning presented the draft copy of an ordinance that will establish fines for parking on County roads. Ordinance 97-01 which prohibited parking on County roads did not establish any penalties for such violations. With the problems experienced last summer of visitors parking on and literally blocking some County roads, the BoCC decided to put some backbone into an ordinance passed almost 14 years ago. A first violation is proposed to be $25 if paid within two weeks, and $50 if paid after the two weeks. A second violation will be $100, and a third violation will cost a whopping $500. March 31, 2021 is the current target date for implementing Ordinance 21-01 after the second reading, third reading, and final approval.
The next Commissioner’s online meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 9 am. Go to www.co.gilpin.co.us for more information.