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Debate Over Colby School Bed and Breakfast Proposal Appeal Set to Continue

The Summit County Council on Wednesday did not come to a decision about an appeal from the owners of the Colby School, who want to redevelop the building as a bed and breakfast.


The owner of the property, an LLC known as Hoffvest, is seeking a conditional use permit to convert the building into a bed and breakfast for eight guests, plus a caretaker unit and a kitchen.


Following several meetings, the Snyderville Planning Commission in June voted, 6 to 1, for a denial. They said the applicants couldn’t meet the threshold requirement that the Inn would be an owner-occupied residence.


On Wednesday, Hoffvest’s attorney, Rob McConnell, said that county code doesn’t define an “owner-occupied residence” which he said is a fatal flaw in the county’s position. He examined how, separately, the words “owner”, “occupant” and “residence” are used in areas of county code. 


The attorney said it’s clear that Hoffvest is the fee simple owner of the property and will operate the bed and breakfast. He said a person will be there as a resident.


“Hoffvest’s proposed operation includes a full-time caretaker, host and a resident manager, who will establish and maintain their domicile at the property, occupying the primary building on the property as their primary residence, while at the same time providing for the day-to-day operations of the bed and breakfast located in that primary building,” McConnell said. “Hoffvest’s proposed operation includes 8 guest rooms and the caretaker quarters—i.e. what I believe your code would define as a dwelling unit--and also included, if required, a tenancy in common or LLC ownership element for the full-time caretaker, host, and/or resident manager.”


He said they meet the precedent that the Council set seven years ago, in judging a development called Silver Moose Ranch. McConnell said his clients meet the definition of a person and an owner.


“Hoffvest is a limited-liability company. It is a person by virtue of its organization, and person feeds into the definition alone,” he said. “Hoffvest’s fee-simple ownership of the property satisfy the County Council’s interpretation and application of the definition of bed and breakfastin Silver Moose Ranch. It’s exactly what you provided for as a condition of approval. By providing for a full-time caretaker, host and resident manager, that lives at the property as their primary residence, Hoffvest’s proposed operation satisfies the residence requirement, as defined in the code and articulated in Silver Moose Ranch.”


In response, Deputy County Attorney Jamie Brackin said the Snyderville Commissioners had struggled to figure out how an LLC can be the occupant of a home. She said that over several meetings, they asked the applicants for an answer.


“Hoffvest’s proposal to the Planning Commission was that the owners of Hoffvest would not occupy the home as a residence,” Bracken said. “In fact, they would hire a staff member. Any interest in the property that the staff member had, or any interest in the LLC that the staff member had would be revocable if the staff member left. The Planning Commission felt like that was not sufficient to meet the “owner-occupied residence” as required, and for the purposes it’s listed, I believe there’s evidence in the record in the minutes that the reason it needs to be owner-occupied residence, a home, is because that way there’s an interest in making sure that you do things that don’t make the neighbors mad—something to that effect.”


She said that an owner, as a resident, has an interest that you wouldn’t see from an employee.


“That an employee wouldn’t have the same interest in making sure that the neighbors—that you’re getting along with your neighbors—that a manager wouldn’t have the same interest in assuring that all those policy questions were met,” Bracken said. “And additionally, they believed that if you have a manager and not an owner occupying the home as a residence, that really turns it into a small hotel. It’s not a bed and breakfast, it’s a small hotel. And a small hotel is not allowed in the residential zone.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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