With Mayor Jason Gray casting the deciding vote, the Castle Rock Town Council voted to require town boards and commissions to be filled with residents.
The 4-3 vote on Jan. 18 means boards such as the controversial Design Review Board — DRB — can no longer have business owners who live outside town limits make downtown development decisions. However, those currently serving will be allowed to finish their current terms.
While the DRB continues to be a primary focus for Councilmembers Caryn Johnson, Tim Dietz and Laura Cavey, the new ordinance impacts all town boards and commissions, Town Manager David Corliss explained.
Corliss said with approval, the town will now look to fill board vacancies on the DRB, historic preservation commission and arts commission with Castle Rock residents.
At the start of the lengthy discussion, Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken made a motion to essentially keep the current system as is, with Councilmember Desiree LaFleur seconding the measure. The measure failed in a 4-3 vote. Councilmember Ryan Hollingshead sided with Bracken and LaFleur.
LaFleur has been the most outspoken against changing the makeup of boards, especially in regards to the DRB.
“I am concerned with the future of volunteer community and what this does to the business voice,” LaFleur said.
LaFleur said current town boards are not filled with people from Littleton or Lone Tree, but instead with true stakeholders with interest in what happens to downtown Castle Rock. LaFleur said the DRB is a like an HOA for businesses.
Adding to her concerns, LaFleur said, there have been years where not enough local residents have applied to serve on local boards, which has required the town to look further.
Corliss said the average number of applicants for open town boards is about 60 per year, with more than 70 residents applying in 2021.
Johnson countered, saying she has seen more residents than ever wanting to serve on the town’s volunteer boards.
Bracken agreed with LaFleur, saying that it impacts the business community and the Downtown Development’s Authority (DDA) ability to conduct business.
Corliss explained that the DDA is not part of town boards and is required to follow state laws and guidelines. The approved changes to the town ordinance will not impact the DDA, he said.
After discussion, Gray said he feels the business community is adequately represented by organizations such as the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce, the DDA and the Economic Development Authority.
“I believe businesses do have a voice,” Gray said. “I think we should get town citizens first. We want input from people outside of Castle Rock, but when it comes down to it, we work for the citizens.”
If the town struggles to fill vacant spots on the volunteer boards in the future, Gray said the council could revisit the issue or make special exceptions as needed.