From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 12 - June 19, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Espenscheid development denied

by Cat Urbigkit

There was little controversy concerning Sublette County planning and zoning issues Tuesday afternoon at the Sublette County Commission meeting - that is until it was time to consider Gary and Nancy Espenscheid's request to subdivide 84 acres of agricultural land on the east side of Ehman Lane near Pinedale into 35 two-acre lots.

Sublette County Zoning Administrator Joanne Garnett said when the application was heard before the P&Z commission, opposition was expressed by neighboring landowners with concerns about a variety of issues, from concern for wildlife migration and water wells, to the loss of property values from this type of intensive development.

The application came to the county commission with a 4-0 vote recommending approval from the county P&Z Commission.

Although perimeter fencing would not be permitted, livestock related to youth educational projects would be permitted, with enclosures not to exceed a half acre on each lot.

"I think we all recognize that the entire county is a migration route to some degree," Nancy Espenscheid said, suggesting the appropriate action is to have development avoid identified bottleneck areas and in all areas of the county be mindful of fencing projects.

Mark Eatinger of Rio Verde Engineering, representing Espenscheids, said Bernie Holz of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department was in attendance to address wildlife issues.

The county P&Z commission received two letters of comment from WG&F: one from WG&F Director Brent Manning and one from the Pinedale office. Manning's letter expresses the state wildlife agency's standard opposition to any development in a migration or winter range area, but the local letter didn't adopt the same tact.

Holz told the commission Tuesday that the migration route for antelope in the area is "not very well defined," and, "We feel the golf course is going to preserve some open space and wildlife movement corridor."

Holz questioned, "Do we want 32 residences clustered like that, or continue to allow them to be 10 acres with boundary fences?" Holz said his agency adopted the position that the Espenscheids' proposal poses the "much lesser threat to wildlife habitat" than the other scenario.

Nancy Espenscheid and Holz served together on the county Purchase of Development Rights Working Group. Holz's recent application to serve on the county's new PDR Review Committee came in the form of a nomination letter co-authored by Nancy Espenscheid and Tom Davenport.

When it came time for the commissioners to discuss the proposal, Commissioner Betty Fear recused herself from voting or discussing the issue. Fear is Nancy Espenscheid's sister.

"I have a problem with the density being proposed here," Commissioner Bill Cramer said. "I think the density being proposed is too great ... I can't support the application."

Commission Chairman Gordon Johnston said he had three problems with the application: water, density and wildlife migration.

"I can't support it either," Johnston said.

Cramer moved to deny the Espenscheid application, to which Johnston seconded. The application was thus denied.

In other P&Z business, the commission approved a conditional use application for construction of a new post office in Boulder, as well as the conditional-use permit application for Mark and Renee Jones to allow crushing operations at an existing ranch gravel pit.

The commission also approved Jackie Hunt's request for a zone change for 24 acres along the east side of the highway in Daniel. The application rezones the land from highway commercial to general commercial so that retail stores and shops can be located on Hunt's land.

The commission granted approval for Melvin Bagley's preliminary plat for the Glacier Hills Subdivision, which divides 39.77 acres into 16 residential lots.

The commission approved the zone change for Ken and Karen Taylor to rezone from rural residential 10-acre minimum, to rural residential five-acre minimum.

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