The Poncha Springs Board of Trustees on Monday directed Town Administrative Officer Brian Berger to move forward with negotiations to hire Judge Cheryl Hardy-Moore for the town’s municipal court.

The board’s four-person hiring committee interviewed four judge candidates. Berger said it was a tough decision, but Hardy-Moore rose to the top. She has been a Salida municipal judge since 2016 and has 40 years of legal experience.

The new court will meet one day a month starting in early 2020. Last month the board approved hiring attorney Lisa Scanga as town prosecutor. She is distantly related to Poncha Springs Mayor Ben Scanga.

In other actions, the board unanimously gave the green light to construction of seven more townhome lots in the Tailwind Village development at Poncha Springs Lane and U.S. 50.

Trustees stipulated, however, that roads in the development’s interior – Fooses Street and Columbine Lane – be completed before the construction begins. It was noted that sales in the 158-unit subdivision were going faster than expected; the projected 10-year completion has been moved up to four years.

In addition, trustees unanimously approved Mark Merklein’s request that Poncha Springs repeat its support of an easement or outlot from the proposed Larks Perch subdivision to public lands to the south. Larks Perch is a proposed single-family housing development on east Hutchinson Road.

Merklein pointed out that the access would not be a trail per se but an opening should a connecting trail be planned. If the development is approved and the easement/outlot included, it would be the town’s only public access to Bureau of Land Management land.

The board also gave unanimous approval to Guidestone Colorado for its application for a $100,000 Department of Local Affairs grant. Guidestone has a fundraising goal of $220,000 to expand the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center on U.S. 50. The group wants to add a meeting room, kitchen and a water chlorination system. Andrea Cohen, speaking for Guidestone, said they hope to start construction in late summer.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the 2020 budget, culminating a process that started in July. Included in the budget is Phase 1 of a roads-improvement project, completing the Crossroads Welcome Center as well as park, trails, signage, water, landscaping and pedestrian highway crossing projects.

• Approved a variance to reduce the frontage on proposed construction at 121 Halley’s Ave.

• Listened to a presentation from Ashley Valdez of Xcel Energy, highlighting the company’s plans to go 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.

• Canceled their scheduled meeting on Dec. 23.

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