Grand County Commissioners shoots down potential lot subdivision in Winter Park Highlands
Residents of the Winter Park Highlands development in Tabernash are no stranger to short-term rentals. There are several in the Highlands, which is made up of 150 spacious lots. Peter Mathews, the operator of one short-term rental, has requested to acquire a strip of land neighboring his property.
During the Grand County Commissioners Feb. 21 meeting, the Grand County Community Development department explained why Mathews’ request should be denied.
Neighboring Mathews’ lot is a 20-foot wide, 350-foot-long tract. Mathews submitted a request to the Grand County Planning Commission to move the tract’s lot lines. This would combine the tract with his property. Mathew’s goal was then to subdivide his lot so that he could build a second home on the property, either as a short-term rental or for his own family. But according to the Grand County Community Development, tracts cannot be buildable pieces of property.
“Because of that, our staff is recommending denial of this request,” Kris Manguso, community development director, told commissioners.
Just as importantly, the Winter Park Highlands Homeowners Association does not allow increase of density through subdivision of lots. Homes in the Highlands are designed to be spread out and offer natural views, with a buffer of approximately two acres between neighbors.
Many residents also oppose Mathews’ attempt to subdivide his lot, some of whom wrote their opposition to Manguso when they learned of this request.
“The past few years we find ourselves struggling to adapt to the shift in ownership in the Highlands as more people buy and build properties with the explicit purpose of generating income through short-term rentals,” wrote residents Scott and Judy McNary to Manguso in 2022. “While we accept the inevitability of this to a certain extent, the VRBO owned by the Mathews has caused problems ranging from trash and noise to parking and traffic. To change existing rules and allow another structure on that lot through subdividing would mean unfairly subjecting neighbors to more of these problems.”
Another resident spoke during the meeting that the tract should be protected as open space.
Commissioners also heard from Mathews, who stated that the intent of the tract was to be buildable. He added he planned to create a second home on the property to support his growing family.
“The planning commission has made numerous, numerous statements that are factually and legally significant that are damaging to our family, and I want you to contemplate these in your decision,” Mathews said to commissioners.
Ultimately, Grand County Commissioners took the recommendation of community development and concerned residents. They unanimously voted to deny Mathew’s request two combine the tract with his property to build a second home.
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