From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 10 - June 5, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Roads, P&Z debated

by Cat Urbigkit

Sublette County Commissioners met Tuesday for their regular business meeting in Pinedale and were greeted by about 15 residents of the South Bench Road located south of Pinedale.

Betty Cheney spoke first, telling the commission what horrible shape the road is in, and requesting the county take action. She described washboards, sink holes and dust problems on the two-mile stretch of county road.

Other residents spoke as well, describing the conditions, including the dust cover ruining standing forage and horses getting mud packed into their noses.

After the residents had their say, county road superintendent Dan Holgate spoke, stating, "I totally agree with you." Holgate suggested the county work on the road, laying a good road base with a binder, followed by a treatment such as mag water.

Commission Chairman Gordon Johnston said that the road has become a higher priority for the commission after hearing from the residents. The commissioners suggested the residents be patient and Holgate said he may be able to get the work done in August.

Commissioner Bill Cramer noted that the commission is currently working on the new budget and said he believes there needs to be more money put into road work, adding that as the drought continues, conditions worsen.

Johnston commended the residents for coming to the commission. Cramer said the residents can count on the work being done some time this year.

"It's effective," he said.

In other road business, Holgate reported that he had spoken with South Piney Road resident Dan Budd once again, and learned that Budd didn't want any further improvements to his road. Since the county's easement from Budd requires that Budd approve any improvements conducted on the road, no further improvements will occur, Holgate said.

Commissioner Betty Fear said, "So when we get the complaints on that road, we just refer them to him?" and Johnston added: "Yeah, I'd be glad to do that."

Jennifer Meeks and Kay Robertson presented Green Pastures' budget request for $40,000 the non-profit could use toward purchasing the building it currently leases from EnCana Oil and Gas. EnCana is willing to sell the organization the building at a greatly reduced price, Meeks said, even though it has received offers for more than the appraised price.

Cramer expressed concern about the county competing with private enterprise by supporting Green Pastures when a woman in Pinedale operates a somewhat similar business in Pinedale, although it is not a non-profit. Cramer said one of the only ways he could support the proposal would be for the county to either hold title or a mortgage for the building, and lease it to Green Pastures for a nominal fee.

Johnston said he had a problem with the proposal because it would put the county in the real estate business.

"Bill has a problem with one aspect of it and I have a problem with another ... just don't hold your breath waiting for a check from Sublette County," Johnston said, but Fear spoke in support of Cramer's idea.

Bubba Larsen and Eric Fairbanks spoke with the commission about Johnston's comments at the last commission meeting in reference to two county planning and zoning commission members. Johnston had said at that meeting, "I think that two of them have attitudes which are not compatible with the goals of our regulations."

Johnston had quoted the P&Z commission minutes that included a statement by a P&Z commissioner, "What gives the commission the right to curtail a developer's wishes?"

Although Johnston didn't say who was being quoted, the statement in the document was attributed to P&Z Commissioner Jay Anderson. The other P&Z commissioner apparently at issue was Peggy Bell.

Larsen and Fairbanks said Tuesday that the purpose in their attending the commission meeting was to speak out in support of Bell and Anderson.

Larsen said the county commission has appointed two P&Z commissioners who are very supportive of private property rights, and said while the P&Z commission needs to see some changes, it needs to be for the right reasons.

"You don't want to get rid of the ones that follow the rules," Larsen said, adding that another P&Z commissioner seems to judge applications based on her personal likes and dislikes rather than on the county zoning regulations.

Johnston said while their point was well taken, "There are still judgment calls," and what he was questioning was the P&Z commissioners' judgment, while acknowledging there is some latitude in county zoning plans.

As for property rights, Johnston said he would fight for his own property rights, and fight for his neighbor's property rights, "until he builds his pig pen under my bedroom window."

Larsen cautioned the commission, "The issue is, before you start running people from the P&Z commission, check their track records."

Fairbanks said while he doesn't necessarily agree with Anderson and Bell, both will read the county master plan and use it in decision-making. Fairbanks said the quote Johnston read aloud from the P&Z commission meeting minutes had been taken out of context. Rather than it being an overall statement of philosophy, Fairbanks said, it was in the context of the limitations of existing rules and regulations.

Fear said she wasn't comfortable discussing other people without them being present.

Fairbanks clarified, "We're speaking for them, not against them."

Cramer pointed out that the P&Z commission simply makes recommendations, while the county commissioners make the decisions.

Fear said she feels that the P&Z commission, "as a whole, does a good job," and added that she has no objections to any of the P&Z commissioners at this time.

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