Michael Lawson mug (copy)

Woodland Park City Council shut down its city manager search in favor of offering Acting City Manager Michael Lawson the job.

On April 28, Woodland Park City Council had three meetings in one evening — a work session, an executive session and a special meeting.

The special meeting and the executive session had the same subject — recruiting a city manager. In the special meeting, council voted 3-2 not to advertise for a city manager, with council members Stephanie Alfieri and Robert Zuluaga voting to continue advertising.

Then council voted 3-2 to offer the job to Acting City Manager Michael Lawson and appoint Mayor Pro Tem Hilary LaBarre as the contract negotiator with assistance from the city attorney.

Alfieri said she doesn’t oppose Lawson but opposes council failing to do its due diligence by vetting other candidates. Zuluaga said he felt it was his responsibility to cast a wide net “to see what’s out there.”

During the work session, council discussed the 180-day occupancy limit for recreational vehicles and campers in RV Parks and campgrounds. The limit was part of a definition in Ordinance 1392, which regulates single-family projects in multifamily zones.

When the ordinance was approved, Bristlecone Lodge and Woodland RV Park owners complained that the occupancy limit would hurt their bottom line. Permanent RV/camper residents also complained. Council reacted by imposing a moratorium on enforcing the limit.

Councilman Rusty Neal said the 180-day limit came from RV Industry Association representatives who said RV systems are only rated for 180 days per year. Permanent occupancy would not only void the owners’ warranties but would also allow over-used systems to wear out quickly and possibly become dangerous.

Neal favored asking owners of RVs and campers that are 12 years old or older to have them inspected. Councilwoman Kellie Case asked him how he plans to enforce that.

When Neal said they could use the honor system, Case said, “Voluntary compliance will get lost. It’s the role of RV owners to care for their RVs.”

Alfieri said the city doesn’t require homeowners to inspect their properties after construction but Neal said homes are constructed to higher standards.

Zuluaga said campground and RV-park owners have insurance, as do RV and camper owners. Insurance companies will want to protect themselves by setting standards, he said.

During public comment, Valerie Lundy said the 180-day limit would only apply to new residents.

“People living full-time in their RVs are permanent residents but they pay no taxes,” she said. “I’m a permanent resident and I pay taxes. Future park owners could decide to allow park models (tiny homes on wheels) without taxation or fees.”

Resident Mike Nakai said most of the arguments for removing the occupancy limit center on personal responsibility. “So why do we participate in Pikes Peak Regional Building Codes?” he asked. “… Let’s not be a responsible government; let’s put the burden of safety on the individual.”

In the end, council directed staff to draft an amendment, removing the 180-day limit. They also discussed removing words that indicate temporary, short-term, transient, or part-time occupancy when it comes to RVs and campers.

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