From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 18 - July 26, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Town boots rezone request

by Tiffany Turner

A new hotel was a possibility as developers approached the Pinedale Town Council for a rezoning change.

LWI Inv, Inc., and TAD, Inc., represented by Craig Charles, Jeness Saxton and Rio Verde Engineering, met with the council on Monday regarding an application to change zoning from residential to commercial on a lot on the north end of town.

Charles and Saxton, joint developers of the Amerihost Inn, planned to develop the lot located in the Favazzo West Subdivision (near the golf course) as a Holiday Inn Express (although only the zoning change was currently on the table).

“It has become very obvious that there is a critical need for more room in Pinedale,” Saxton said. “We are not big-time developers ... the Amerihost is the only property we have anywhere.”

Saxton continued on by explaining to the board that they “want to be good neighbors to Pinedale,” and they are hoping to create a more tourism-based hotel rather than a long-term rental hotel that is basically used solely by gas-field employees and companies.

“Just because a zone change is approved does not mean (the hotel) will happen,” Mayor Steve Smith said.

“The Planning and Zoning board (P&Z) recommends approval,” P&Z administrator Meghan Jacquet said. “There was a very lengthy discussion – mostly personal feelings – and three members voted to approve, one voted no and one abstained due to lack of information.”

Fortunately, all of the town’s P&Z board was present to comment about their votes, and several of them chose to do so.

Board member Pam Curry was the first to voice her opinion to the council.

“I did vote to recommend approval,” she said. “Since then, however, other things have come to light. Number one, we were missing the viewpoints of the residents in the area; without their input, it was difficult to balance the rezoning with the need for another hotel.”

Curry said she did not fault residents for not being present when the rezone was discussed at the P&Z meeting as so much happens in Pinedale, many times one does not hear about something until it has already been decided.

Roz Leslie also chose to speak on behalf of her vote during the past P&Z board meeting; Leslie was the sole abstaining board member.

“(P&Z) Staff recommendations were not met,” she said in explanation of choosing not to cast a vote on the matter. “Also, I did not want to set a precedent of rezoning R-1 to C-1.”

Leslie feared that creating this precedent could lead to possible litigation from other applications that had been denied or may be denied in the future.

Robert Brito, chairman of Pinedale’s P&Z board, spoke as his was the sole negative vote for the P&Z board, citing a lack of input as his major deciding factor.

Jacquet then addressed P&Z staff findings.

“We spent most of a week to build the staff report you see in front of you,” she said. “Most of it is just based on our own ordinances.”

Jacquet stated that there are only two reasons that land can be rezoned: an initial error during the original zoning process or a change in conditions, which must be proven.

“It’s black and white,” Jacquet said.

Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie also spoke on behalf of staff findings.

“We’re losing track here,” Ninnie said. “You’re not applying for a hotel; you are applying for a zone change. We need facts and numbers, not talk.”

“Council should not approve a rezone without all the supporting information,” he added. “The supporting information should not be supported with ‘I think, I want, we think, we want.’”

Ninnie felt a commercial rezone of the property would be in direct opposition of Pinedale’s Master Plan, which states that no rezone should take place until all other commercial lots have been developed or sold. The master plan also urges a divide between residential and commercial lots, and the lot proposed for rezone has been used as a buffer zone between the two in the past.

The council then opened the floor to citizens with concerns, which included real estate agent Michael Kudar, developer James Engstrom, who had previously been working on a contract for a Holiday Inn Express, and neighboring residents of the property.

Kudar directed his comments to the developers’ claims that there was no other commercial property in the town that met their needs.

“There are 48 acres in the town of Pinedale currently zoned C-1,” he said.

Kudar also stated that the property the developers had discussed earlier in the meeting is unavailable for division (it was a much larger parcel than they needed) was currently his listing and no offer of purchase had ever been made for any of the acreage.

Resident Joey Smith, who lives nearby the proposed property, spoke in opposition of the rezone, stating that they purchased their property knowing that lot was zoned residential, and barring unforeseen changes in the community, would remain residential zoning.

“What happens to us as residents,” she asked.

The council decided to act upon the motion with Councilman Dave Hohl casting a motion to deny the application for rezone and Nylla Kunard seconding it. The vote was split two to two with council members Gary Heuck and Chris House voting nay.

Mayor Smith warned the applicants that if the application was denied it would be one full year before they could reapply and asked if they wished to withdraw the request or have it tabled.

The applicants requested the council make a decision and Mayor Smith cast his vote to agree with the motion on the table; the application was denied three to two.

Also taking place at Monday’s Pinedale Town Council meeting:

• Animal Control’s Julie Early picked up five dogs for the month of June, three of which had been reported lost. She also reported earning $45 from licenses and put 612 miles on the town’s truck. Heuck, having seen Early outside town limits in the animal control vehicle, reminded her that the insurance is not valid outside the town and she was not to be putting the miles on the vehicle.

• Public Works reported that everything is on track; they are just falling behind, as they need at least one more full-time person on staff. Public Works also reported they are preparing to do their second test on the water quality in Fremont Lake.

• Jacquet and Ninnie presented for the P&Z board and Engineering. Jacquet reported that permits have brought in roughly $900 for the month of July, a humane society is currently in the works with nothing planned for at least a year and that a variance was granted to Stockman’s for a telephone tower.

“We also held our first staff meeting on Monday at nine,” Jacquet said. “Hopefully, it will become a ritual. It allows the different departments to run through and update everyone on some of the activities they are planning.”

• For the Engineering department, Ninnie stated that the fast-tracked library addition’s foundation package had been approved and he expected to see the plans for the next phase within the next two weeks.

Ninnie also reported that the county commissioners had declined to make a motion for the town garage, as they believe the property should be annexed into the town.

Ninnie then reminded the town that by 2010 they have been required by federal regulations to take steps towards controlling Crypto in the drinking water.

“If you wait, the department is going to be responsible for expensive monitoring,” he said, citing overtime and manpower as two costly additional expenses if the system is not developed prior to the 2010 requirement.

• Rio Verde Engineering’s Mark Eatinger stated that tests were currently under way and the scoping study would take place in the next several weeks; Eatinger and Ninnie planned to discuss the water system at a later date.

• Mayor’s Assistant Lauren McKeever brought several items to the council’s attention, the first a request to change the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Pinedale field office status to a pilot office as it would allow additional help to be brought in faster when needed – only the council can apply for this change in title change.

McKeever also discussed the new industrial bypass road that is planned near the Mesa drilling.

“The North Pinedale bypass road – this road is already approved and staked by the county so there will not be any more public comment – will connect the Industrial Road to the Mesa Road,” McKeever said. “This could help to alleviate traffic traveling north. It was built to access those sites, but it will also be a bypass.”

• Bob and Darlene Penton requested a temporary-use permit to allow a singlewide trailer; the trailer would replace an existing trailer that has been located on the property for 15 years.

“I’ve seen the trailer they are wanting to move in there,” Heuck said. “It looks a lot better than the one that’s there now.”

The council voted unanimously to allow a renewable one-year temporary use permit provided the Pentons follow all other regulations for trailers.

• Badger Creek Properties requested that a lot be split into two to allow for a two-unit townhouse to be built in the town’s Hennick Second Addition area.

“Currently the zoning entertains the use,” Jacquet said.

The council unanimously voted to pass the preliminary plat and townhouses.

• Town Council unanimously approved the final plat for Orcutt Hills Subdivision Unit 1’s request to change lot delineations and numbers so that existing homes that had been built over lot lines were now fully contained within their own lots.

• Jim Washam addressed the council concerning the veterans’ memorial planned for American Legion Park. The council did not make a motion, as all details concerning placement and funding of the monument have not been worked out with the Park and Tree board and county commissioners.

“We’re in support of it, Mr. Washam,” Mayor Smith said. “We just need to work out the details.”

• Another concerned citizen spoke to the council requesting a stop sign be placed on Franklin and Hennick to slow traffic, as currently vehicles can drive from Fremont Lake to Pine Street down Franklin and never pause for a stop sign.

“What’s wrong with that,” Heuck asked.

“I told you what was going to happen,” he added, making reference to his resistance to grant previous requests for stop signs that the remaining council members had granted. “I am not even going to vote on any of these, I refuse.”

With Hueck abstaining, the stop sign request was granted two to one.

• Several ordinances were passed on their third reading at the meeting, including two that would raise both the mayor’s and town council’s salaries; Heuck again spoke against to the rest of the council stating that it was unfair to the town to increase the salaries, although the council, minus Heuck, voted in support of raises and the ordinances passed.

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