The Poncha Springs Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting Monday evening, getting an update on a solar garden, focusing on a public hearing on a minor subdivision, a short term rental application and considered a proposal to ease the county’s critical child care shortage.

The board continued a discussion that initially started in December of 2018, about a non-profit child care program interested in the feasibility of using the old Poncha Springs Town Hall for childcare. Town Administrator, Brian Berger, informed the board that the state child care licensor believed it possible to use the old town hall for childcare.

The old Poncha Springs Town Hall. Photo courtesy of Colorado Central Magazine.

The non-profit, Alpine Achievers Initiative (AAI), additionally facilitated county and state regulatory agencies site visits to confirm the feasibility of the historic building for childcare. The agencies confirmed that use of the building is feasible.

AAI’s spokesperson, Megan Strauss informed the board that AAI had obtained the correct licensing and certifications required by the state along with some renovation capital in order to comply with state standards. Strauss said AAI’s goal was to provide childcare mostly focusing on infant care. She explained that, if approved, they could initially provide care for up to five infants and nine children and be up and running before next school year. The Board of Trustees made no decision about the concept during the meeting.

Mike McCabe from Oak Leaf Energy Partners presented an update on their initial stages of building a 10 acre two-megawatt solar garden in the Northeast corner of Chaffee County Road 140 and U.S. Highway 285. The solar garden was approved by the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners in July of 2018. Both Chaffee County and the City of Salida are two primary subscribers and McCabe asked the Board of Trustees to become a subsriber as well.

McCabe also explained that the town’s initial energy cost savings would be around $36,000 and the project would likely be completed within the next 90 to 120 days. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the measure to become an additional subscriber to the solar garden.

Mayor Ben Scanga then opened the meeting to public session to consider a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission to split the lot located at 314 Truman Avenue. Doug and Amy Kenyon presented a proposal at the April 8 Planning and Zoning meeting to split their existing 1.53 acre lot into one 0.63 acre lot and one 0.90 acre lot with no change in zoning. The commission moved to recommend the proposal to the board as presented. The board of trustees unanimously approved the recommendation.

A W1 Warrant (short-term rental) request was also referred to the board by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The warrant requested the single family dwelling located at 507 Ouray Avenue be changed to a short term rental unit. The commission recommended the board approve the request with the condition that it be reviewed in one year and the owner, Anna Ward, obtain a business license. The board unanimously approved the request with the stated conditions.

The last three items on the agenda, Fire House liquor license renewal, Expenditure authorizations, and Crossroads Welcome Center Update held minimal discussion. Fire house liquor license was approved unanimously.

The board approved three expenditures: $9,600 for 72 unknown grave markers at the cemetery, road work and improvement plan, and a water main crossing at U.S. Highway 285 and 50. All plans and expenditures were approved unanimously.

Finally, the board was presented with a possible cost savings option by Administrator Berger for the Crossroads Welcome Center by delaying some landscaping work into 2020. The board approved the cost savings initiative unanimously.