Thursday, May 30, 2019

Colorado supreme court sides with travel companies over Breckenridge in taxation case

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Daily Camera

Online travel companies aren’t required to pay accommodation and sales taxes in the town of Breckenridge, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled earlier this month.
Since 2016, the town of Breckenridge has been engaged in litigation against 16 online travel companies, including major players in the industry like Expedia, and Hotwire. The town claimed that OTCs are required to collect and remit accommodation and sales taxes associated with hotel reservations in town and sought monetary relief for unpaid taxes. The district court sided with the OTCs, and Breckenridge brought the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals.
In January 2018, the court of appeals issued an opinion on the case affirming the district court’s decision that OTCs aren’t required to pay the taxes — largely on the basis of specific language in the town code, noting that the OTCs are just intermediaries between customers and hotels and not considered “renters” or “lessors” of hotel rooms in town.  Breckenridge issued a certiorari petition last year, and in August the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Following a hearing May 9, the state Supreme Court decided to affirm the appellate court’s decision in a split 3-3 vote. Justice Melissa Hart didn’t take part in the decision because Breckenridge had previously hired her as an expert witness before her appointment to the court in December 2017. According to the opinion, an equally divided court affirms the decision of the court of appeals by operation of law.  “We’re disappointed in the decision and that we lost because of a tie because one judge was recused,” the town’s finance director Brian Waldes said. “The court did recently side with Denver in a similar case, and our ordinance’s language is close to theirs. We’re considering altering the ordinance in light of the decision. It’s on the table.”
Waldes is referring to another Colorado Supreme Court case in which the court decided that Denver’s lodger’s tax article imposed a duty on OTCs to collect and remit prescribed taxes on the purchase price of any lodging they sell. While it may seem like Denver’s argument was substantially similar to Breckenridge’s, as asserted by the town’s attorneys, the court wasn’t persuaded.
The difference comes in the language used within each entity’s tax codes. According to the appellate court’s decision, Denver’s lodger’s tax requires “vendors” to pay the prescribed taxes. Breckenridge’s accommodation tax code instead focuses in on “lessors” and “renters,” and the court of appeals decided that because OTCs are not the “rightful possessors” of the rooms, they’re essentially just brokers and not subject to the tax under Breckenridge’s laws.
Breckenridge’s current code states: “(The) legislative intent of the town council in enacting this chapter is that every person who, for consideration, leases or rents any hotel room, motel room, or other accommodation located in the town shall pay and every person who furnishes for lease or rental any such accommodation shall collect the tax imposed by this chapter.”
Breckenridge imposes a 3.4% accommodation tax on the price paid for the leasing or renting of any hotel room.
In theory, the town could pass a new ordinance to update the code’s language to better mirror Denver’s, though the Taxpayer Bill of Rights would require it to go before the town’s voters in the form of a ballot question.
“Staff believes, and has believed all along, if we didn’t prevail in the litigation, the ultimate remedy is to amend the ordinance, which would require a TABOR election,” town attorney Tim Berry said at the town’s regular council meeting Tuesday night. “We have a template that worked for Denver. So we’re going to consider if we can amend our ordinance to draft it into the decision that Denver won.”
Berry noted that there’s also a chance the OTCs, as the prevailing party, could seek to recover costs from the case from the town, but he said it’s unlikely. Additionally, Berry said that because the town didn’t win, the law firm the town hired to handle the case, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP, wouldn’t be paid because they took the case on contingency.
“They’re almost as disappointed as we are,” Berry said.
Neither the firm representing Breckenridge nor the firm representing the online travel companies on the case, Connelly Law LLC, returned calls for comment on the decision.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dillon’s Fourth of July fireworks show shot down

#Dillon #Colorado
Summit Daily

The county will be a little quieter this Fourth of July with no fireworks over Lake Dillon as community officials continue to consider the impacts of large crowds in the area.
The town of Dillon officially pulled the plug on their planned fireworks show over the reservoir this Independence Day, or rather the plug was pulled for them at the monthly Dillon Reservoir Recreation Committee (DRReC) meeting last week.
Dillon’s marketing and communications director Kerstin Anderson said the town had every intention of moving forward with a fireworks display going into the DRReC meeting last Tuesday — a committee made up of representatives from Dillon, Frisco, Summit County, the U.S. Forest Service and Denver Water. But after questions arose about public safety and the community’s desire to collaborate on big projects of this nature, the town’s permit was denied.  Denver Water, which operates the reservoir, is a required ‘yes’ for any events to take place on the reservoir. Denver Water’s manager of recreation Brandon Ransom, who serves on the committee, was among those who opposed the show.
According to Todd Hartman, a spokesman for Denver Water, the decision was largely influenced by health and safety concerns of the community, citing input from law enforcement and emergency services worried about their ability to navigate potentially extreme congestion around the reservoir, including on U.S. Highway 6 and CO Highway 9.  “Denver Water is proud to support many recreational activities and events around Dillon Reservoir through the DRReC partnership, which allows all stakeholders an opportunity to weigh in so we can carefully evaluate the activity with regard to public safety and resource requirements,” said Ransom in a statement provided to the Summit Daily.
The county’s fireworks shows began making news in January after Breckenridge decided to cancel their show, citing concerns regarding wildfire safety after back-to-back seasons with major fires: the Peak 2 Fire and the Buffalo Mountain Fire.
In response to Breckenridge’s cancellation, Frisco decided to cancel their annual show over the reservoir, though the decision was much more heavily influenced by safety concerns surrounding crowds and traffic than fires. On a particularly busy day in late January, emergency services from around the county complained that prolific traffic and crowds had become a legitimate factor in inhibiting emergency operations throughout the county, and Frisco feared that an even bigger turnout to their fireworks show in the wake of Breckenridge’s cancellation could create major public safety concerns.
“The big issues had to do with life safety, and concerns in emergency response and the volume of guests,” said Diane McBride, Frisco’s director of recreation and assistant town manager. “All of that came into play when we made that decision, and a lot of those same concerns were raised when Dillon proposed having the fireworks.”
In early April, Dillon began discussions to step in and fill the void. Despite some concerns from staff — including Dillon Police Chief Mark Heminghous — that the town may not have sufficient time to plan the event, nor the resources to effectively police the event, the town was still pushing forward with the show until the rejection at the DRReC meeting last week.
In addition to any fireworks over the reservoir getting axed, Keystone Resort also decided not to incorporate a fireworks display as part of their Fourth of July celebrations this year.
“After consideration of a number of factors, we are confident Keystone will continue to serve as an ideal location for an Independence Day celebration,” said Geoff Buchheister, vice president and general manager for Keystone Resort. “Keystone is proud to offer families and guests a variety of activities and events to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday.”
Regardless of the lack of fireworks in the county this year, officials are optimistic that there’s still plenty of programming to draw visitors to the area and give locals a fun holiday. Among the most notable Fourth of July events this year are a performance from the National Repertory Orchestra at Rainbow Park in Silverthorne in the morning, live music and parades throughout the day in Frisco and Breckenridge, and a performance by The Air Force Academy Band at Dillon Amphitheater to close out the night.
Anderson said that while the town won’t be doing fireworks this Fourth of July, that doesn’t necessarily mean fireworks won’t be returning sometime in the future.
“In general the community is reevaluating how we manage big events collectively, and that’s going to be a process that each entity is going to need to come together to find where those parameters are and what works,” said Anderson. “The council needs to have a discussion and consider whether fireworks for Labor Day is a direction they’d want to go, knowing it’s a tough fire time of year, or looking at doing something at another time of year like the Lighting of Dillon. But fireworks are not off the table in Dillon.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Music lineup for Frisco’s Colorado BBQ Challenge announced

#Frisco #Colorado
Summit Daily

To celebrate Father’s Day weekend Frisco is hosting the 26th annual Colorado BBQ Challenge. This year’s festivities will start on Thursday, June 13, with a kickoff concert. A total of nine bands will play throughout the weekend as visitors chow down on some of the best BBQ in Colorado. The schedule is as follows:
7:30–9:00 p.m., Eminence Ensemble: This six-piece band brings soulful vocals and playful lyrics to their musical journey with influences from hard rock, funk and rhythm and blues.  
1–2:30 p.m., 101st Army Rock Band: The 101st Army Rock Band plays a high-energy mix of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’70s all the way through the present.
3–4:30 p.m., Satellite13: A modern rock band made up of John Truscelli, Jess Rose, Tyler Easton and Leo Lopez. They will be releasing their first EP with famed producer Tom Fletcher, on June 7, at Frisco’s own 10 Mile Music Hall.
5–6:30 p.m., 21 Taras: Founded in 2014, 21 Taras is a ’60s and ’70s influenced rock band from Denver.
7–8:30 p.m., Uptown Funk: Uptown Funk brings a dynamic Bruno Mars tribute with exceptional musicianship, choreography and energy.
10–11:30 a.m., Beau Thomas: Thomas is a soulful acoustic singer-songwriter who plays an eclectic mix of original music and cover tunes. Thomas’ local popularity has exploded since he participated as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice.”
Noon to 2 p.m., The Drunken Hearts: From their humble inception as an acoustic trio, The Drunken Hearts have evolved into an electric five-piece band.
2:30–4 p.m., New Orleans Suspects: New Orleans Suspects began playing together in 2009 as a pick-up band at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans. In five short years they’ve released four CDs and established themselves as one of New Orleans’ best supergroups.
4:30–6 p.m., The Flobots: Since forming in 2005, Flobots have released three full-length albums, toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, and appeared on late night programs including “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night.” The Flobots are internationally known for their 2008 platinum single “Handlebars” and widely recognized for using their music as an inspiration for social change.
Along with music, the 2019 Frisco Colorado BBQ Challenge also offers chef demos, a whiskey tour, a firefighter cook-off, kids’ activities, pig races, street performers and the Bacon Burner 6K run. Visit for more information.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Monday, May 27, 2019

WAVE art festival makes a splash in Breckenridge this week with interactive installations

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

The fourth annual WAVE: Light + Water + Sound festival begins this week in downtown Breckenridge. The free, four-day gathering of illuminated and interactive installations invites the public to bask in pieces that blend the natural, musical and industrial worlds.
With works made by international and Colorado-based artists, people can expect everything from a cloud made of light bulbs to wireframe birds to a cellist playing on the Blue River.
“This event builds on our success with other nature-inspired activities as well as supports our commitment to programs that focus on environmental and place-based relevancy,” said Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of Breckenridge Creative Arts, in a press release. “The artworks featured in this year’s WAVE festival explore various ecological topics that are important to both local residents as well as guests who visit our beautiful mountain community.” 
Seven different works of public art will dot Breckenridge’s scenic landscape. The pieces are either U.S. premieres, Colorado premieres or brand new commissions never seen before. 
Most will be displayed on the Arts District campus on Washington Avenue. There, people can pull on the strings of thousands of light bulbs in Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett’s CLOUD, interact with Scott Young’s neon work Intermittent Positive Reinforcement, or gaze at the ethereal wire sculptures of C├ędric Le Borgne’s Les Voyageurs and Les Oiseaux.
On the Blue River Plaza, festivalgoers can walk under metallic arches in Iceberg, an immersive, organ-like installation by ATOMIC3 and APPAREIL Architecture that follows the life cycle of giant pieces of ice with light and sound.
At the gallery inside the Old Masonic Hall sits Tension, a series of neon “ropes” created by Denver-based Young. Dangling on a system of mechanical pulleys, the piece is meant to evoke the equipment of Summit County’s mining past. To learn more about Tension, visit Old Masonic Hall on Friday, May 31, to hear Young give a half-hour presentation at 6 p.m.
ACT Lighting Design, a Belgian-based design agency, created a holographic-like net called Light Flows that will be visible on the Riverwalk Center lawn. Various light-themed images of nature will be projected on the installation as it floats in the air.
If folks want a bit of exercise with their artwork, they should check out Ekumen’s Loop. A combination of a music box, zoetrope and railway handcar, participants sit inside the machine and pull the lever to create an animated movie with images and sounds that sync up with the pace they set.   
Cost: Free. Visit for a complete schedule and more information.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Now that is one BIG rock.

Colorado Dept of Transportation

A rockslide between Cortez and Telluride closed Colorado 145 on Friday, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The slide, about 12 miles north of Dolores, has closed the highway indefinitely, CDOT said in a news release.
Rocks, dirt and two giant boulders, one as big as a house, destroyed the full width of the road, leaving an 8-foot trench across both lanes and making the section impassable, CDOT said. 
At least one boulder will need to be blasted as part of the cleanup effort. It was unclear when the highway will reopen.
Read more via The Denver Post.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

OpenSnow launches ‘OpenSummit’ summertime mountaintop weather forecasts

Summit Daily

In time for summer hiking, the skiing-focused weather forecasting website OpenSnow and its Colorado-based founder Joel Gratz have launched a new mountaintop weather-forecasting service dubbed “OpenSummit.”
OpenSummit — available at — provides access to hourly weather forecasts for more than 1,000 locations across the country. Information for each location includes the chance of precipitation, lightning potential, temperature, wind speed and sunrise and sunset times free to all readers up to two days, and up to five days for OpenSnow/OpenSummit all-access subscribers. Gratz said additional forecast data and locations will be added over time. A dual OpenSummit-OpenSnow yearly subscription costs $19 annually.
The forecasting service provides information specific to 232 mountaintop locations in Colorado. Here in Summit County, the service provides information at locations including Buffalo Mountain, Uneva Peak, Peak One, Peak 10, Crystal Peak, Pacific Peak, Atlantic Peak, Fletcher Mountain, Quandary Peak, Bald Mountain, Mount Guyot, Mount Valhalla, Mount Powell, Eagles Nest, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Keystone Resort and Breckenride Ski Resort. 
Other nearby locations include Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, Mount Edwards, Mount Sniktau, Pettingell Peak, Byers Peak, Square Top Mountain, Notch Mountain, Mount of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Ridge, Clinton Peak Mount Lincoln, Mount Cameron, Mount Democrat, Mount Buckskin, Mount Bross, Mount Silverheels, Dyer Mountain, Mount Sherman, Horseshoe Mountain, Mount Massive, Mount Oklahoma, Mount Elbert, Casco Peak, Lackawanna, French Mountain. Mount Parnassus, Bard Peak, Vasquez Peak, Winter Park Resort and Colorado Mines Peak, among others.
An OpenSummit mobile-phone application is also available for download on iOS, while Android will be available by early June.  To search and see which mountains are included in the forecasting service, vist:
Courtesy Summit Daily

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Breckenridge Ski Resort extends season beyond Memorial Day, open weekends through June 9

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

Breckenridge Ski Resort announced Wednesday morning it will remain open for two weekends of spring skiing and riding beyond the resort’s previously-scheduled closing day of this Monday, Memorial Day, May 27.
The resort will remain open daily through Memorial Day, and then will shift to a weekend schedule, offering skiing and riding on Saturdays and Sundays June 1-2 and June 8-9, weather and conditions permitting.
“It has been one of the best winter seasons I can remember during my more than 25-year career, and we are thrilled to keep it going for our guests and passholders,” said John Buhler, Breckenridge’s vice president and chief operating officer.
During the two additional weekends, lift-serviced skiing and riding operations will continue to be based out of the resort’s Peak 7, with access to primarily advanced- and expert-level terrain, via the Independence SuperChair.
As of Wednesday morning, the Vail Resorts property reported 3 inches of new snow overnight from Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning and 14 inches in the previous 48 hours, for a base depth of 74 inches and 454 inches of total snowfall thus far this ski season. Breckenridge anticipated an additional 1-2 inches of snow through the day Wednesday followed by 3-5 inches overnight Wednesday into Thursday.  
According to, the resort as of Wednesday morning is at 196% — nearly double — its average snowpack for winter seasons.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Breckenridge had most all of its terrain open on Peaks 6 and 7, including Peak 7’s bowls. On both days, the resort operated its Zendo, Kensho and Independence SuperChairs on Peaks 6 and 7 and its T-Bar on Peak 8’s high-Alpine terrain. The resort throughout its Spring Finale this May has also opened, conditions permitting, lift-serviced skiing from the top of Peak 8 by way of the Imperial Express SuperChair.
Skiers and riders at Breckenridge currently do not have access to the BreckConnect Gondola, and won’t through the end of the season on June 9. As such, skiers and riders commuting to the mountain from Breckenridge Station in downtown Breckenridge must take resort buses, which will continuously loop between Breckenridge Station and Peak 7 throughout the day during operating hours.
Breckenridge is currently scheduled to open its Epic Discovery on-mountain, summer activities and operations on June 14, when the BreckConnect Gondola will begin operating again, transporting guests from Breckenridge Station to the Peak 8 base area.
This winter season thus far has been, according to the resort’s official statistics, one of Breckenridge’s most prolific of snowfall winters in the resort’s history. Breckenridge’s snowfall statistics go back three decades and, as of Wednesday morning, this season’s 454 inches ranks as the second most snowfall on-record at the resort. The highest recorded snowfall total at the resort was 2010-11’s 519 inches, while the 2013-14 winter ranks third, at 441 inches.
It’s worth noting, however, that, until this year, Breckenridge’s official snow statistics recorded only through April, making direct comparisons between this season and previous seasons a bit skewed.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Colorado holds top 10 spot in 'Best States' ranking

Michael Yearout Photography

Colorado hung onto its No. 10 spot in U.S. News' third annual ranking of the "Best States."

The report evaluates how all 50 states are serving residents in 71 metrics across eight categories: education, health care, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and environment.

For the second year, the Centennial State ranked No. 1 in the "economy" category.

"Historically, the state has been rich in agriculture, livestock and mineral extraction," U.S. News writes. 

"In addition to tourism, the state's economy is bolstered by a developing technology scene and a presence from the military, including the U.S. Air Force Academy."

For the first time, Washington topped the list, followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont.

At the bottom was Louisiana.

Here's how Colorado fared in all eight categories:

  • Health care: 12
  • Education: 11
  • Economy: 1
  • Infrastructure: 8
  • Opportunity: 28
  • Fiscal responsibility: 29
  • Crime and corrections: 29
  • Natural environment: 31
The low mark in "environment" was based in part on a ranking of 44th in air quality and 20th in pollution.

Records show Breckenridge hotel sold for $6.25 million in April

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summitt Daily

Vail Resorts lauded the sale of the Village Hotel in Breckenridge to the Colorado-based company Gravity Haus in April, saying that the deal would produce a hotel built specifically for “adventurers and athletes.”
At the time, Vail Resorts, the owner of Breckenridge Ski Resort and a handful of other properties in town, said it would continue managing the hotel at 605 S. Park Ave. under a long-term agreement with the buyer, but declined to disclose financial details of the sale.
Property records now show the Village Hotel changed owners for $6.25 million, making it the second most expensive transaction listed on April’s sales report produced by the Summit County Assessor’s Office.
The sale of the hotel in downtown Breckenridge ranked behind only a record-breaking sale of a luxury home in Breckenridge that went for more than $10 million and was recorded by the assessor’s office on April 19.
The sale of the Village Hotel was first reported in March, when the Summit Daily News noted the Mountain Top Children’s Museum would be needing a new home following the potential sale of the Village Hotel building, out of which Vail Resorts had been allowing the nonprofit to operate. 
The existing 60-room Village Hotel was built at the base of Peak 9 and sits in a prime position in town within easy walking distance to Main Street, Breckenridge Ski Resort and the White River National Forest, among other amenities.
“As Breckenridge continues to grow as a destination, this is an opportune time to reposition the Village Hotel to maximize its potential and enhance the resort experience for today’s guests,” said James O’Donnell, executive vice president of hospitality, retail and real estate at Vail Resorts, in a previously released statement. “We believe we can create more value to our guests by allowing a third-party owner to renovate and redevelop the property.”
Value might be a good choice of words. According to the property records, the Village Hotel was valued at $4.27 million in 2019 after it was appraised at $3.2 million the year before.
The next appraisal could be even more interesting, however, because the hotel is scheduled to undergo a full renovation before being rebranded a Gravity Haus property featuring a new hotel-and-membership concept that’s set to debut in time for the next ski season.
According to Vail Resorts, four major investments are going to “reinvigorate” the reimagined hotel. They are a sports-performance gym, a co-working space for locals and travelers, a sustainable coffee shop and a rotisserie-inspired restaurant called “CabinJuice” that features a craft cocktail bar, gathering space and healthy menu items.
The hotel is also expected to house a backcountry center, space for gear rentals and lockers, and a Japanese Onsen-inspired spa, along with “a flexible new lodging model” designed for groups, international visitors, and individuals and families from the Front Range.
The sale of the Village Hotel in Breckenridge follows the announcement of the sale of another property owned by Vail Resorts — this one at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge — to a developer who’s planning a luxury hotel and wholly owned condos on the property. Details of that sale have not been disclosed.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

NAR’s Yun forecast for 2019 housing sales: New homes will drive market gains

Sales of new homes probably will reach a 12-year high this year as builders scramble to meet demand from entry-level buyers, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. Existing home sales probably will be flat, he said.
The number of new houses sold in 2019 probably will total 667,000, the highest level since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2007, Yun said at NAR’s Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington D.C. on Thursday. Sales of existing homes, which tumbled 3.1% in 2018 as mortgage rates rose to an eight-year high, probably will be flat this year, Yun said. Next year, existing home sales probably will gain 3.7%, he said. 
Yun predicted changing migration patterns within the U.S. as buyers give up trying to stretch to get into pricy markets and move to more affordable areas of the country. Nationally, the inventory of homes on the market has grown for eight straight months on a year-over-year basis, and Yun said he expects that to continue. Housing affordability had been falling, according to NAR's Housing Affordability Index.
"While affordability has been sliding, it is still better than we saw in the year 2000. This is due to much lower mortgage interest rates today," Yun said at the conference. 
This year, incomes have been gaining at a pace closer to home-price growth as average hourly wages increased, Yun said. Incomes have been climbing from a post-recession bottom hit in 2011, according to data from Sentier Research.
"With strong job creation, wages are growing at a faster pace," Yun said. "Finally, wages and home prices are aligning."
The mix of new houses being sold will shift toward the more affordable end of the market, resulting in a lower median price. Even as sales rise to a 12-year high, the median new-house price will fall 2.8% to $317,300, according to Yun’s forecast. For 2020, he expects new-home sales will grow 7.9% to 720,000 and the median price will increase 1.8%. In March, new-home sales jumped 4.5%, according to an April 23 report from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales for that month were 3% higher than March 2018.
Prices for existing homes probably will gain 2.3% this year and 3.3% in 2020, Yun said. That's a slower pace than 2018's 4.9% increase.
The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage probably will be 4.3% this year, compared with 4.5% in 2018, Yun said at the conference. The unemployment rate likely will average 4% this year, not far from last year’s 3.9%, he said. Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.6% in April, the lowest in five decades. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

What’s the penalty for defying the FCC, Breckenridge mayor asks

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Town of Breckenridge

Federal guidelines easing state and local restrictions on the imminent deployment of 5G technologies have prompted Breckenridge to update its design standards in a way the town never wanted to.
One hallmark of 5G technology is blazing fast upload and download speeds. However, handling such massive amounts of data will require a dense array of small-cell antennas, and the deployment of those facilities has local officials worried.
Estimating that a 5G wireless antenna could be necessary for the new technology as frequently as every 500 feet, town staff produced a rendering showing what one of the 5G antenna poles could look like downtown during the last Breckenridge Town Council meeting. 
Town attorney Tim Berry told the elected officials they can expect “to have many of these things” when 5G finally makes its way to Breckenridge, which left the mayor panning, “it’s going to look terrible.”
“All the work we’ve done to make our town look like it does will be undone because the FCC doesn’t give a crap about anything other than this fight with China,” Mayor Eric Mamula said as he blasted the Federal Communications Commission. “That’s all this is about. That’s all they want to do.” 
After consulting outside counsel, town staff ordered changes in the way Breckenridge processes requests for wireless facilities in April, further limiting the time frame in which the town has to rule on permit applications for new 5G facilities and the fees it may charge to process the applications.
Other stipulations rein in local officials’ ability to review the facilities for their aesthetic impacts on the town, as well as ease requirements for the deployment of the 5G systems on public buildings and within public rights of way.
Corresponding state regulations played a role in Breckenridge’s decision to update local regulations, town staff said, but the move stems directly from the FCC’s efforts to streamline the rollout of 5G technology — not just in Breckenridge, but across the nation — by rolling back local restrictions.
“The FCC makes no bones when they say in their order that they want the United States to have, essentially, full deployment of 5G technology as soon as it can be done to compete with other countries in the world that are further advanced as far as small-cell technology,” Berry explained. “And yes, that may have some impact on local governments. And yes, it may limit the design. And the FCC says, ‘Too bad.’ That’s their political position.”
At the heart of the criticism over the newest rollback of local control is the core of Breckenridge and the town’s Conservation District, which encompasses much of the downtown area and the town’s Historic District.
Given how poorly so many Breckenridge residents reacted to Verizon Wireless securing approval to build the first cellphone antenna in the town’s Conservation District last year, the continued erosion of local control on the deployment of 5G is not likely to go over well.
During the hearings for Verizon’s wireless facility, local planning commissioners had to repeatedly guide public discussions away from pieces of the project the commissioners weren’t allowed to consider — such as potential health effects — because of guidelines previously set by the FCC.
Some hope might rest in an ongoing court challenge, Berry said, but he isn’t too optimistic the ruling will come out in favor of local governments. Plus, he guessed it will take another 12 to 18 months to settle the case, during which time Breckenridge will have to live with the FCC’s guidelines.
“I would say I would rather not have 5G if we’re going to have 30-foot poles all over town,” the mayor said in response to the FCC’s limits.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but the federal government is telling you, ‘You got to have it,’” Berry responded.
Even though the technology is only emerging in major U.S. markets, including Denver, it’s still evolving, and town staff expect they’ll have to continue updating local standards as more information becomes available.
At one point during the discussions, the mayor went fishing for answers about what might happen if the town decided to simply ignore the FCC’s guidelines and impose stricter local regulations on its own. 
“What’s the penalty to us?” the mayor asked.
“You get sued and you lose,” the attorney replied.
“And how long does that take?” the mayor continued.
Not long, Berry said to the mayor, as the attorney advised town leaders against challenging the FCC in such a way. Feeling defeated, the mayor wondered aloud if the town might want to put signs on the poles blaming them on the FCC.
Courtesy Summit Daily.