From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 30 - July 26, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Zoning for new motel voted down

by Jennie Oemig

At the Pinedale Town Council meeting on Monday, representatives from the AmeriHost Inn Motel expressed their desire to change the zoning of property from R-1 to C-1 in order to build a Holiday Inn Express on nearby property, as many townspeople took aim at getting the request denied. Craig Charles, representing AmeriHost Inn, said the proposed building would be an L-shaped structure and would include a family restaurant, indoor pool, and a good-sized conference center that would be able to hold 200-250 people.

“We tried to take into consideration what the town was looking for,” he said. Planning and Zoning Administrator Meghan Jacquet said the Planning and Zoning board had a very lengthy discussion about the topic, noting that the vote ended with three members in favor of the project, one against it and one member abstaining. All of the Planning and Zoning members were present at the meeting and expressed new concerns about the issue before the council took a vote.

Planning and Zoning Board member Pam Curry said she voted to recommend approval, but was made aware of new information that impacted her thoughts.

“They were missing the viewpoints of residents of the area,” she said, adding that the lack of information made it hard for her to weigh the positives and negatives of the project. “In Pinedale, things change so fast. Things can happen right under your nose and you’re not aware of it until it happens.” Curry also said that the town’s common knowledge that it needs more hotel rooms may be inaccurate. The vacancy rates need to be taken into consideration before it is decided whether a new hotel is needed, she said.

Barbara Boyce of the Planning and Zoning board expressed her belief that another hotel was needed, noting that one of her family members, along with her athletic team, would be coming to Pinedale later on in the year.

“They had to get rooms at Lakeside,” she said, noting that there were no rooms available at any other hotel in town.

Mayor Steve Smith quickly nullified Boyce’s comments, informing those in attendance that the actual hotel was not being considered, just the zoning change. Janet Montgomery, another member of the planning and zoning board, said she abstained from voting to prevent the town from being brought under litigation if rezoning is allowed for one and not others. “I abstained from voting because I didn’t want to set a precedence for rezoning R-1 to C-1,” she said.

Robert Brito, chair of the Planning and Zoning board, said he voted against the project because he felt he did not receive enough information from the petitioners. He said he has received numerous phone calls from concerned citizens who don’t want the zoning change to take place.

“We want to ensure that when we have housing … we have community-based areas,” Brito said. Though he was against this particular change, Brito said the town is in need of more lodging.

“I believe we do need a hotel, but the zoning for this area is not correct,” he said. Jacquet continued with the staff perspectives once the Planning and Zoning board members had the chance to voice their opinions.

She said that in order for the zoning to change one of two options has to be proved. There either has to be an initial error in the zoning map or there needs to be a change in condition.

“The price of the land has nothing to do with zone change based on those two options,” Jacquet said.

Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie then expressed his discontent with the project as it stands now and his desire to have more information. “We need letters, we need facts … we need numbers to substantiate what they’re saying,” he said. “Not just talk.”

Allowing for the rezoning is something Ninnie said he feels will bring people out of the woodwork wanting to do the same thing. “This will allow a flood of applicants to come forward and do whatever they want without proper information,” he said. Jacquet then spoke of the town’s master plan, in which residential property can only be rezoned as commercial if all other C-1 property is already developed. “They’re going against the master plan of the community,” she said.

Michael Kudar then explained to the council that there were 38 acres of C-1 property available that had not yet been developed. Joey Smith, who lives on Clubhouse Road behind the AmeriHost Inn, spoke up about her concerns with the rezoning project. “It’s clear that the only reason to rezone is for error or oversight or if the town is changing,” she said.

Once the council was ready to vote to deny the rezoning of the property, Town Attorney Ed Wood made it clear to all parties involved that once denied, they would have to wait 12 months before resubmitting another request.

With that said, the council took a vote and voted to deny the rezoning of the land, to which those in attendance cheered and applauded.

• During the department head reports representatives from the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office reported 329 calls, gave out 32 warnings, issued 36 citations and made 35 arrests.

The placement of the second of two pedestrian crossing lights was also discussed, with the suggestion it be placed by the post office. The first crossing light will be placed at the intersection of Pine Street and Tyler Avenue.

The Sheriff’s Office was also very busy during Rendezvous weekend and made several arrests. The representatives expressed their gratitude to the town and community members for their cooperation during the weekend festivities.

• Julie Early reported picking up five dogs over the last month. Three were reported lost and two were at-large. Early said she collected $45 for licensing, put 612 miles on her vehicle and paid a little over $206 for gas. At present, Early said she has several dogs and cats impounded, as well as a pigeon. She also reported capturing two baby raccoons and that she attempted to chase down a ferret, which is still at-large. Council member Gary Heuck questioned Early about an incident in which she took the animal control vehicle out of town limits to respond to horses on the highway. “Keep the truck in town, horses or no horses,” he told her, acknowledging the town’s liability for the vehicle.

• Jacquet said she met with Susan Kramer and Julie Land about starting a Humane Society in Sublette County. Ninnie informed the council the Sublette County Library’s structural and building shell package will be received within a week. Ninnie also said he needs $800 approved for a topography survey in correlation with the town garage project. In addition, Ninnie recommended a townwide drainage survey be done in the very near future. “I’d rather complete this sooner rather than later,” he said. “We need to fix this and get it out of the way.” Ninnie said if the survey is not completed soon, it will only cost the town more money in the future if the system needs to be monitored.

• Mayor’s Assistant Lauren McKeever informed the council that the Bureau of Land Management can get more officers in the area if they’re designated as a pilot office. McKeever also discussed the north Pinedale bypass road, which has already been approved and staked by the county. It will connect Industrial Road with Mesa Road and will alleviate some of the traffic from north Tyler Avenue.

• Airport Manager Jim Parker informed the council that they needed to approve the extension grant that the airport board received last week. The fix-based operator (FBO) contract was also revisited during the meeting. Parker said he added the language the council requested be put into the contract at the meeting two weeks ago. Council member Nylla Kunard was still not satisfied with the outcome. “I think it was voted to go the other way, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” she said. The vote on the FBO contract ended in a tie, and Mayor Steve Smith voted in favor of the agreement. The extension of the runway was unanimously approved by the council.

• During the citizen’s concerns portion of the meeting, it was proposed that a stop sign be placed at the intersection of Hennick Street and Franklin Avenue. “I told you what was going to happen,” Heuck said of the new development. “ … Pretty soon it’s going to take an hour to get from my house to the high school.” Realizing the scrutiny the council would undergo if they decided to deny the placement of this traffic sign, Kunard created a motion to approve the four-way stop. “We’ve done it for the others,” she said. Heuck was not as eager to approve another stop sign in town. “I’m not even going to vote on it,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous.” The motion passed, with Heuck abstaining from voting.

• Several ordinances were passed at Monday’s meeting including ordinance 417 – relating to unclaimed, infected or dangerous cats within the Town of Pinedale on third reading; ordinance 418 – relating to the control of alcohol and underage persons on the third reading; ordinance 419 – relating to the salary of Town Council on third reading; ordinance 420 – relating to the terms of office for mayor on third reading; ordinance 421 – relating to the salary of mayor on third reading. The salary of the mayor will be increased to $2,000 a month and will take effect July 1, 2010. Right now the mayor’s salary is $1,000 a month, Pinedale Town Clerk Patty Racich said. The salary of the council members will be increased to $150 per meeting. That increase will also take effect July 1, 2010. Heuck was opposed to both the increase in salary for the council members, as well as for the mayor. “I don’t believe these salary increases are fair to the public,” he said.

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