CRIPPLE CREEK • City Council on June 2 approved a resolution establishing the Residential Development Incentives Program.
The city of Cripple Creek and Teller County are experiencing a housing shortage, so much so that many local businesses and the city itself are finding it difficult to attract, recruit and retain employees.
Interim City Administrator Ray White said city departments have 23 vacancies and the search for a new fire chief is starting over because there have been few qualified applicants.
With the resolution’s approval, city staff is directed to create an ordinance to bring back to council. The ordinance would sunset the program in June 2024 unless it is either rescinded or extended by council before the sunset date.
It would waive 10% of water and wastewater tap fees; allow for pipes, valves and other construction materials to be purchase the city’s cost; make backfill materials available at the city’s cost; provide a no-cost dump site for dirt, asphalt and concrete; and waive or defer the city’s time and costs for processing permitting fees.
Marketing and Special Events Director Jeff Mosher said the planning department is working on streamlining development processes.
“They’re looking for things staff can handle rather than repeatedly bringing these applications back to council,” he said. “Let’s try it out.”
City Attorney Erin Smith said, “This is an offer. A developer doesn’t have to take it.”
County Assessor Colt Simmons said housing sales in some areas of Cripple Creek and Victor have increased by around 25% since 2018.
Tax assessments on residential properties are based on the sale prices of local homes, so this jump in the housing market has also increased property-tax assessments. Many homeowners will have noticed an increase when they received their Real Property Notice of Valuation from the assessor’s office in May.
“El Paso County’s population is 750,000 and is expected to reach 1 million by 2030,” Simmons said. “Teller County is attached to that growth.”
Newmont Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company gave its quarterly report. General Manager Melissa Harmon said the company is handling its recruitment issues by creating a more inclusive work environment. For example, the company is changing some of its job requirements to allow the recruitment of more women, she said.
Justin Raglin gave the company’s COVID-19 report. The mine is still considered a COVID-19 outbreak site. That designation won’t change until there are no new cases for 28 days. The mine has seen 90 cases since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in 2020. There are still five active cases.
In conjunction with Teller County Health, the company has had one Johnson & Johnson and two Moderna vaccine clinics. “On June 14, fully-vaccinated employees will be able to go maskless,” Raglin said.
He added that there is still a small amount of funding available to help with COVID-19 relief projects in Teller, El Paso and Fremont counties.
Katie Blake spoke about the permitting process for mine expansion and reclamation projects that will be ongoing throughout the life of mining operations.
Finance Director Paul Harris said COVID-19 cases are continuing their downward trend and that the city will receive $316,000 from the American Rescue plan. Half of the funds will arrive in 2021 with the second half arriving in 2022.
In other business, the council approved, on second reading, an ordinance amending the city’s Demolition Fees and bonds. Demolition permits will be issued by the city administrator’s designee. Certificates of Demolition must be approved by council. The demolition fee is $100 plus $85 for each inspection performed by the Building Official before and after the demolition takes place.
Acting in its capacity as the city planning commission as well as city council, the council approved, by a 4-1 vote, an application for a Conditional Use Permit from developer James Kroll to build a residence at 217 W. Bennett Ave. in the BB (Neighborhood Mixed Use) Zone. Councilwoman Missy Trenary cast the no vote, but didn’t give a reason.
In the same two capacities, council unanimously approved a request from Merit WPU Cripple Creek LLC and Store Capital Acquisitions on behalf of Wildwood Hotel and Casino to vacate a portion of Pikes Peak Avenue right of way and adjacent alleyways. The vacated avenue would be used as a passenger drop off site and a crosswalk between the hotel and casino. One lane will allow one-way through traffic.
Both of these cases require city staff to create ordinances.