From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 30 - October 23, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Espenscheid rezone okayed

by Cat Urbigkit

Gary and Nancy Espenscheid's proposed rezoning of 84 acres of agricultural land off Ehman Lane into rural residential lots was once again before the Sublette County Commission Friday.

The Espenscheids' original proposal generated a great deal of controversy and was subsequently denied, but the proposal has been altered substantially in an attempt to ease the commission's concerns. The original proposal involved subdividing the land into 32 lots, which has now been pared down to 20 larger lots. The Espenscheids have also agreed to impose restrictive covenants regarding loose pets, wildlife feeding and fencing.

Gary Espenscheid explained to the commission, "We are trying to address all of the concerns that have been raised for this project."

This agenda item drew about a dozen people into the meeting room, mostly concerned residents of that neighborhood. Several spoke of concerns with water issues, as well as wildlife migration.

Commission Chairman Gordon Johnston said he had concerns with the Espenscheids' original proposal, mainly for antelope in the area, "so I became familiar with it."

Johnston said he toured the area with Gary Espenscheid before the proposal came to the commission the first time, then reviewed the revised proposal with Nancy Espenscheid.

"Then I got with Bernie Holz and Scott Smith (of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Pinedale office) and we took a tour of the area," Johnston said.

Although the commission received a letter from WG&F Deputy Director Bill Wichers dated just one day prior to the commission meeting, urging the commission to avoid placing rural developments in migration corridors such as this one, Johnston said, "I place more value, credence, whatever you want to call it, (on Holz' or Smith's opinions) ... than I do with Bill, who seldom gets out of Cheyenne."

Johnston said from visiting with Holz and Smith he learned "they did not feel there was that much damage to the migrating antelope."

Johnston said he is now in favor of approving the subdivision, and County Commissioner Bill Cramer said the issues he had been concerned with had been addressed as well.

Cramer noted one of his biggest concerns with the original proposal was its density and pointed out that the density has been reduced some 40 percent.

Cramer made the motion to accept the county planning and zoning commission's recommendation to approve the rezoning proposal, to which Commissioner Betty Fear seconded and the resulting vote approving the rezoning was unanimous.

Resident Dennis Thorson took issue with Fear voting on the issue, since she is Nancy Espenscheid's sister. When the Espenscheid proposal came before the commission a few months ago, Fear recused herself from voting.

Johnston said he saw no reason for Fear to recuse herself. Fear told Thorson that she did not have a conflict of interest in voting on the proposal because she would receive no financial gain.

When Thorson continued to challenge the propriety of Fear's vote, Johnston shut him down, stating: "I, as chairman, have said Betty can vote. That is the end of it."

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