Volume 2, Number 10 - June 6, 2002
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Town gives nod to county encroachment
At a special meeting that lasted nearly two hours Monday, Pinedale Town Council members finally agreed to grant to Sublette County "permissive use agreement for the exact footprint of the building, get rid of the fence, and give the mayor authority to enter into a permissive use agreement." The council wants to know if translucent glass can be used on the south side of the building rather than regular glass.
At issue was the Sublette County Courthouse complex project that encroaches more than 12 feet into Mill Street, and which the county failed to obtain a building permit for. The matter came up at the regular council meeting last week, after which the council requested that construction work on that side of the building be halted until the council had the opportunity to meet with building project architect Brad Waters Monday. At 100 feet, Mill Street is one of the town's wider streets, so the encroachment leaves 88 feet of space, parts of which was to have been public parking.
Sublette County Commission Chairman Bill Cramer addressed the council, saying "the buck stops somewhere, and on the county's behalf, as far as blame goes, I'm willing to accept that." He said it was not the county's "intent to do anything illegal, but it has."
Cramer proposed using part of the 98 parking spaces proposed in March of 2001 for the encroachment, leaving 60 spots. He said the commission feels that the county complex is for the benefit of the public, and "the county and the town have always had a good working relationship" and that the county has "always been willing to help the town in any way we can" and hope for a favor in return.
Cramer at one point said that "this is a public entity, not a private property, encroachment, so there would be no precedent set."
New council member Miriam Carlson said she "would like to hear from the architect why he is encroaching on our property." Waters explained some restrictive American Correctional Association standards, and said he felt they knew they would encroach, but assumed the permits had been obtained.
The permit evidently fell through the cracks after a December 2000 council meeting when the council refused to permanently close, to allow for construction of the jail pod, that portion of Mill Street that lies between Tyler and Fremont avenues. All involved were reportedly aware that a variance was needed, and everyone assumed it had been taken care of.
Town Attorney Ed Wood advised the council that he didn't think it would set a "precedent for future town streets" if the problem was handled through a permissive use agreement as long as the structure remains.
New council member Gary Heuck said he felt it set a double standard, to which Wood said "it is ... a separate, distinct standard," but without that standard, it would cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to fix.
Pinedale resident and contractor Bob Karsch told the council that he has spoken to several area contractors, and if the encroachment is allowed, "there will be a problem if no remedial action is taken."
Most in attendance at Monday's meeting felt that the "blame" fell to the building contractor, Hogan and Associates, because obtaining all permits for a project is part of their duties. To that end, when the council finally made a decision, citing the contractor was part of that decision.
Carlson and Heuck voted nay, and Ann Holman and Barbara Boyce voted aye, which left Mayor Rose Skinner breaking the tie with her yes vote.
Wood will check into the town's ordinances in regards to variance violations prior to the Monday, June 10, meeting. The council requested that the county have a representative from Hogan and Associates at that meeting, and Waters will gather information for the council. They want visual material regarding the fence, and to know what kind of windows ACA standards allow.
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