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While the agenda for the Dec. 20 Salida City Council meeting was lengthy, the ordinances under consideration only received a single public comment. All the ordinances and resolutions passed on unanimous votes, with council member Jane Templeton on vacation and absent from the roll call.

Ordinance 2022-25 Salida Crossing Development Plan and Companion Resolution 2022-62 Plat Agreement Approved

Salida Crossings Site Plan, 2017 versus 2022. Image courtesy BVD Investments and Phelps Engineering

These two measures comprise a highly impactful, 92-unit planned development, located near the eastern gateway of Salida at 1520 East U.S. 50 (just west of  Hwy. 291/Oak Street).

None of the more than 20 conditions and additional recommendations clarified by Development Director Bill Almquist (and confirmed in Planning Commission hearings) triggered any pushback from staff or elected officials.

Council member Mike Pollack expressed his support for the project, seconded by member Justin Critelli. Member Alisa Pappenfort also stated she was pleased about more trees being planned and that groundbreaking is scheduled for first quarter of 2023.

The applicant’s representative, Bernard Weber spoke briefly, clarifying an intent to provide greenery along the parcel’s southern edge (facing U.S. 50) to soften the site mass while still showcasing the commercial portions of the project.

Mayor Dan Shore added his appreciation for “all the hard work that staff and the applicant have put in.” He further noted that “there are no height issues and that the modified plan represents a 25 percent reduction in density.” Council member Critelli made further reference to planned development projects in the council member reports that concluded the meeting (see below).

Ordinance 2022-24 Short-Term Rental (STR) Licenses, Occupational Lodging Taxes Effective Jan. 1, 2023

During the final reading and public hearing, Craig McMillan of 602 Park Avenue spoke. He said he was unsure as to who his council representative was and said he was “shocked that no one was here” to speak to the STR taxes. He wanted to ask questions but Mayor Shore said this was not the venue for that and offered to speak with him after the meeting.  McMillan then said that a current guest wanted to add a day to his stay and the guest claimed that the new fees were already being imposed by McMillan’s management company (though they do not become effective until January 1).

Pappenfort said she hoped to rewrite the language of the ordinance and also gradually impose the new taxes. Her motion to amend failed  (3-2) and then on a roll call vote, the motion as originally written, passed (including Pappenfort’s vote). Mayor Shore noted that as a statutory city, “our hands are tied”, suggesting that citizens could consider supporting a Home Rule Charter to fine-tune ordinances like this and improve their equity.

Resolution 2022-57 Three Citizen Appointments to the Planning Commission

Members of the council reappointed Giff Kriebel to the Planning Commission for another term. In addition, current alternate member, Aaron Derwingson was appointed to fill a vacant regular seat and new applicant Dan Bush was appointed to be a new alternate member.

Resolution 2022-58 Budget Amendment for Waste Water Fund Approved

With amended actual revenues exceeding budget projections in an amount more than adequate to cover it, a $339,000 addition was made to both revenue and expense in the 2022 budget. The amendment was triggered by higher-than-expected costs on the 2022 Sewer Reconstruction Project as well as new consultant expenses for the proposed Poncha Trunk Line project.

Resolution 2022-59 Conveys Salida Community Center to Salida Senior Citizens, Inc.

Salida Community Center supporters pose with council members as Community Center is conveyed by Mayor Dan Shore (far right) to the Center’s board. Center Director Elaine Allemang is in front row, left. Merrell Bergin photo

A highlight of the evening was the formal conveyance of the Salida Community Center to its current operators Salida Citizens, Inc. After signing the property over as a result of the Nov. 8 election, Community Center staff, board and volunteers gathered for a group photo.

A shout-out was also given to the Community Center board and especially to Director Elaine Allemang for her years of service there.

Resolution 2022-61 Commercial Lease with Salida Bottling Company LLC for Land at 323 West First Street

City Administrator Drew Nelson stated that the proposed lease had been reviewed with the City Attorney, reflecting an unplanned opportunity for the City to secure public parking for calendar year 2023.

When asked by council member Harald Kasper about comparable lease rates for the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) parking, Nelson said that the Salida Bottling Company lot was higher per square foot.

However, he noted that the UPRR lot is much larger and that it also contains unusable land near the riverbank. This, in his opinion, brought the cost per square foot down to a reasonable level, especially given rising land rates.

Council Member Reports

Aside from a round of year-end holiday wishes from council members to the staff, one council member report tied directly to the Salida Crossings ordinance approved earlier.  Justin Critelli sought to caution citizens from petitioning every new project and overdrawing general conclusions from the recent failed ballot issue regarding the Salida Bottling Company project.

He said “Only four years ago we approved a project that was well taller and had way more density…When it comes to council and our moving forward entertaining future planned developments, I will continue to bring  in the differences from the bottling plant to the ones we are discussing.” For example, “Do they have rentals, is there more green space, was there a parking lot there before?

Reached for confirmation of understanding that each project is different and needs to be evaluated on its own merits, Critelli said that ” there was not some sort of hidden message from the voters that spoke out against density, height or the planned development process as a whole”.

“The election just proves that people didn’t want one planned development in particular and anything more than that is …just conjecture,” he added.

 Treasurer Bergin Reports Increased Sales Tax Collections for October, 2022

In his report, Bergin noted “October City sales tax collections increased by $27,825 (3.7 percent) as compared to October 2021. The City’s portion of Chaffee County sales tax collections increased by $7,677, a 2.9 percent increase over October 2021. In total, sales tax receipts are 3.5 percent higher for October and 3.9 percent higher year-to-date. Actual collections are ahead of budget by 1.9 percent year-to-date.”