From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 52 - March 25, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

County P&Z discusses moratorium

by Bill Boender

The Sublette County Planning and Zoning Board met Wednesday, March 17, at the Sublette County Courthouse with three applications to consider. A request for a variance from Milton Gumfory for a home on property in Daniel was approved although neighbors were concerned about access to a right-of-way through the development. Having no jurisdiction in that area, the board suggested dealing with the other property owners.

A zone change for 66 acres from A1 to RR5 was submitted for the third time by Doug Sterck to establish 10 lots of five or more acres with a 12-acre no-build set aside on Duck Creek. Despite objections from non-resident neighbors to having less than 10-acre lots, the board approved the application and Peggy Bell commended Sterck for withdrawing his second application in order to conform to board concerns with a third application.

Garry Ellingford of Piney Company, Inc. presented an application for conditional use to expand an existing waste disposal site from three pits to four. Extensive plans and details of operation were presented to the board. The application was approved despite complaints by Linda Baker of the Upper Green River Valley Coalition, who felt there should be more regulations to cover operation and ultimate disposition of such facilities.

Paul Scherbel suggested Baker work with the Bureau of Land Management, which will not consider such facilities, forcing them to be placed on private property which is often less appropriate than the extensive BLM property in the county.

P&Z Board Member Jay Anderson proposed that the board set meetings in Marbleton or Big Piney a few times a year rather than having all meetings in Pinedale. Some future meetings will be scheduled accordingly.

Board Member Judi Adler moved to set a moratorium on all zone change requests for a period of 120 days in order to consider new regulations covering three areas.

1) Tighten regulations for water wells and septic systems.

2) Require conditional use permits for all oil and gas wells in the county.

3) Establish no build zones for migration corridors and find a means to compensate landowners in those zones.

Board Member Peggy Bell responded that there would need to be public notice if such a proposal was to be considered. Bell pointed out that it could cause devastating economic impact as well as a spike in property values, and considered the proposal to be extreme and reactionary.

Board Member Albert Sommers suggested Adler consult experts in each area and prepare resolutions to change the regulations that exist rather than attempting to bring the process to a halt.

Board Member Susie Michnevich felt the moratorium would not be effective and would not support it.

Anderson then expressed thanks that we have the opportunity and right to express our feelings on such issues and commended Adler for having the conviction to do so. Anderson strongly disagreed with a moratorium, again suggesting that experts in each area should be consulted, the public should have input and that the board needed to be responsive to all its constituents and not to a few "duplicitous and disingenuous environmentalists."

Regarding conditional-use permits for drilling, Anderson confirmed his personal involvement in the industry, but stated that it is already the most regulated process in the county, concluding that, "This is not pornography."

Editor's note: See Bell's opening comments on page 25.

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