From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 42 - January 8, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Ordinance 422 remains unpopular with residents

by Tiffany Turner

People dislike it because it leaves up to interpretation whether or not their designs are pleasing, fit the character of the area or if the lights bother their neighbors.

They also don’t like the work and additional money to have a licensed engineer draw up all their plans, even if they just want to create a parking lot.

Ordinance 422 started raising eyebrows since it passed on its first reading at Pinedale’s Town Council a month ago without having been advertised. Since the document created so much concern around town, Pinedale Town Council decided to take no action on the second reading to allow Planning and Zoning (P&Z) time to look over the document and make recommendations at their meeting Monday night.

The ordinance, created by Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie as a streamlined list of what was expected for a site plan before it comes to the P&Z Board, specifies what maps, drawings and other technical items are needed as well as aesthetic criteria.

“The site plan shall be of a character so as to harmonize with the neighborhood, to accomplish a transition in character between areas of unlike character, to protect property values and to preserve and enhance the appearance of the community,” the proposed ordinance states, and it also calls for pedestrian plans and a lighting and drainage studies.

These specifics, along with their intrinsic interpretive values, were the main topic of conversation among both board members and audience members at the P&Z meeting.

P&Z Chair John Fogerty explained that in the beginning when the ordinance was being planned he was “all for it.”

“So that when we made a recommendation to Town Council it was based on all the plans and information,” he said. “(But this seems to be) above and beyond what the constituents of the town are interested in.”

Those who spoke from the audience backed Fogerty’s statement. Several local business owners and developers were present to be heard on the proposal.

“We already have a site plan ordinance,” said Steve Mackey. “All you (Ninnie) have talked about is beautification and that is what this is all about.”

The beautifi cation regulations, Mackey said, are specific, but not specific enough.

“If we are going to have a criteria requirements they need to be more specific. … They need to be specific not interpretive,” Mackey added.

Developer John Sulenta, Jr. saw problems in the details required.

“Something like this I think would work in Salt Lake City or Denver,” he said. “We’re getting to the point where the only person that can do this is an engineer. … I don’t think that is right; I don’t think we are that big.”

Sulenta added he did not think a one person engineering department could take on the additional work a list this detailed would involve.

Others in the audience were worried about the additional costs for the requirements as well as the problems arising from grandfathering existing buildings and developments already approved but not constructed, such as the Bloomfield.

Mark Eatinger, engineer with Rio Verde Engineering, brought up the drainage study and plan made for the Bloomfield, which flowed a lot of the water into the streets, something that the proposed ordinance would not allow. It would have to be dealt with on site.

“We worked hard on that,” Eatinger said. “This seems to fly in the face of that.”

Those voicing complaints on the ordinance did agree there were drainage issues and some kind of plan needs to be followed when permits are applied for, but they thought this version was an overkill if meant to apply to all projects.

Ninnie backed the document, stating he was just trying to put that application process “in a more organized format.”

Ninnie added the character portion was simply to keep the same “vibe” to the town, as there currently is, a topic discussed many times by the P&Z Board.

“You would make that decision here,” Ninnie said. “It is important for what you want.”

“We’re just asking to put more thought in our site plans,” he added. “All you’re asking for is more information … and provide information so that questions can be answered for surrounding properties.”

Ninnie said the point of the ordinance was to make the town work more cohesively and address problems plaguing the limits for years and getting worse as the population grows.

As for complaints about changing how drainage would work and the additional costs of dealing with misplaced water on each site, Ninnie said, those need to be dealt with.

“In all due respect, I have a job to do here,” he added. “I see a drainage problem.”

The P&Z Board, however, sided mostly with audience members, citing lack of specificity and a fear of too much power in too few hands as reasons to delay approval of the ordinance. They decided it should be tabled and discussed further.

“It seems to me like we’re putting an awful lot of power in three people’s hands,” Barbara Boyce said. “I’m against what it really comes down to.”

“I just feel that it’s very vague, so I guess my recommendation is it needs to be more specific,” board member Pam Curry said. “It’s just overkill for a lot of potential things people could want to do.”

Chairman John Fogerty added maybe such an ordinance needed to wait until the drainage study in the works is finished and the town knew for sure what needed to be done to handle water problems in town.

“I think this might be premature,” he said.

The board made a motion asking the council to table the ordinance due to a lack of specificity, to ensure the ordinance is fair and equitable to all applicants, to define a developed property and to better discern what all requirements mean.

The motion stalled two against two, with Chairman Fogerty opposed, stating he felt he wanted to explain the recommendations to the Town Council and was afraid a motion would not adequately share all the concerns realized at the meeting.

“So the Town Council will have a better understanding of how their constituents feel about this proposed ordinance,” Fogerty said. “I think there are just too many things that need to be discussed.”

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