From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 36 - September 6, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Slim P&Z board hears Master Plan

by Jennie Oemig

With three members present, the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) board held its first meeting without former chair Robert Brito on Tuesday evening.

P&Z Administrator Meghan Jacquet informed the board that before they began hearing any new business, the board members would have to choose an acting chair for the meeting. Board members Pam Curry and Barbara Boyce motioned and seconded to have Paul Rock take the helm this week. After the first and only agenda item was reviewed, Rachelle Ricotta introduced the draft Town Master Plan and reviewed it with the members of the board.

Ricotta informed the board that the Master Plan coordinates with the community development plan, which is similar to a vision statement for the town.

“They’re very complementary,” she said. Though the entire document does not need to be overhauled on a regular basis, Ricotta said the goals and policies included within would be the major areas that need to be updated each year, Ricotta said. The Master Plan Steering Committee met once, finishing the document review at another meeting, to go over the plan and get a sense of what the community thought of it, Ricotta said.

Rock then asked what some of the citizen’s comments and concerns were, to which Ricotta said many people were interested in including recycling policies, as well as addressing parking issues. Upon review of the Master Plan, the board members were then able to discuss with Ricotta their concerns about certain aspects within the document.

Rock pointed out on the zoning map that an area outside of town had been altered. “The stuff that’s outside town limits is just preferred,” Ricotta said, adding that the county P&Z board would have the final say as to how that property is zoned.

Pointing to an area on the map, Ricotta suggested having the zoning changed to commercial so a community center could be erected. Rock was hesitant about her proposal. “I don’t think you can just wave your magic zoning wand and change it,” he said. Ricotta then reminded the board members that the document they were looking at was merely a draft and was all up for debate. The aspect of sidewalks and curbs and gutters, which was included in the draft, was another area of concern for the board members. “Do we want to perpetuate that ongoing point of contention?” Rock asked.

Rock then turned to Town Council member Gary Heuck, who had joined the rest of the P&Z board at the table in mid-discussion of the Master Plan, to get hi s input on the subject.

“You’re going to be hard-pressed to get them to put in sidewalks,” Heuck said, adding that sidewalks would be nice but Pinedale doesn’t have the proper snow removal process to allow for it. “I would say valley pans are fine … With snow removal and everything [sidewalks] are ridiculous.” Curry agreed with Heuck, stating that if sidewalks are going to be included in the Town Master Plan, the issue of snow removal would have to be addressed.

After discussing the idea of having the citizens be responsible for shoveling the sidewalks on their own property, Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie questioned how other towns go about removing snow.

“I don’t care about them, Gene,” Heuck said. “ I just care about Pinedale.” It was also noted that other towns have mail delivery services, whereas Pinedale only has a post office box system. People in other towns must clear their sidewalks otherwise they won’t get their mail, Heuck said. The issue of water conservation is also addressed in the Master Plan, as Ricotta said the town is looking into getting grants to get meters installed.

Curry then questioned why the water usage rates in Pinedale are so high when compared to other towns. “It’s human nature. We all do it,” Ninnie said. “If we don’t pay for it, we use it. We’re asking people to be more conscious about their water.

One bothersome thing for Rock was the language that stated the Master Plan would be viewed as a mandate and not merely a guide for the growth of the town.

Ricotta then explained that anything within the Master Plan that doesn’t work can be taken out or reworked.“I like the old language,” Rock said. “I don’t like the mandate thing. I think it spells trouble … down the road.” Ninnie then pointed out that the old Master plan did not serve the P&Z board well, but the new document would serve as a guide.

“I would rather have our town governed by our ordinances – not this,” Boyce said. “ … I don’t see the need for this so much.” Pointing out that the Master Plan is part of the town ordinances, Ricotta again expressed the importance of updating the document regularly.

“It’s supposed to be a tool to forge the future,” she said. Rock was still dissatisfied with the wording, suggesting that by using the word mandate, the governing body would be given too much power.

“But, if we do it right, it would be the citizens that get the power,” Curry said. Suggesting the wording was just a matter of semantics, Ninnie said the board should be playing a more participatory role and be vigilant to update the Master Plan annually.

“You have a very powerful responsibility if it’s updated every year,” he said. “ … I think that this is just a guide. The real authority comes from the legislative body, but the ordinance states you have to have a Master Plan and it has to be updated.”

Pointing out that the P&Z board is not a law-making body, Curry said the members are only expressing their opinions on behalf of the citizens.

“We’re just volunteers here,” she said. “We don’t make laws. We’re just a conduit for the citizens.”

Ninnie agreed, saying that the board is just molding the way in which they think the town should grow. “Really, a good Master Plan is an evolutionary process,” he said. “It’s not a slam dunk.”

Before adjournment, the sidewalk issue was brought up once again, as Curry expressed her concern about people walking down the street alongside moving vehicles. “It would be nice if they had a sidewalk,” she said.

Ninnie said that sidewalks could be placed along heavily traveled arteries for the safety of pedestrians without causing a town uproar. “You don’t have to do the whole town,” he said. “ … Pedestrians and vehicles don’t mix.”

Snow removal was again taken into consideration. “In every other town on the planet, the property owners remove the snow,” Rock said, adding that sidewalks would be a great investment because people would make use of them. “ … I think the urge for sidewalks, to me, outweighs the seasonal difficulties with the snow.”

After reviewing the Master Plan with the P&Z board, Ricotta said she would be taking those comments to the Town Council members to get their input. The document would then be advertised in the newspaper to get the input of Pinedale citizens. “I hope I get back 100,000 comments,” she said, acknowledging the importance of addressing residents’ concerns.

The plan will then go to the county P&Z board for comment. A public meeting will also be held Sept. 19 for citizens to comment on the document, which will eventually make its way back to the town P&Z board for final review.

• The petition to annex Split Diamond Meadows subdivision was reviewed by the P&Z board on Tuesday as well.

“You’re going to be weighing if it needs compliance,” Jacquet said, adding that the petition would then go before Town Council for compliance.

Looking over the petition, Rock asked if the council would be in favor of cul-de-sacs, which were worked into the plan. “Town Council generally doesn’t like culde-sacs,” he said. “Are they OK with this?” Though she informed the board that some hesitation was received from councilman Heuck on the matter, Jacquet said the area where the cul-de-sacs were placed were appropriate. Engineers from Rio Verde Engineering made alterations to the original plans to include snow removal areas.

“These snow storage areas kind of alleviate [Town Council’s] concerns,” Rock pointed out.

Rock then asked Ninnie and Jacquet if they had any further concerns or comments about the petition.

“I have no further comment on this,” Ninnie said. “It’s all in order.” Jacquet said she had a small concern with full annexation, but had no further issues with the petition.

“It’s just a technicality,” she said, adding that Town Attorney Ed Wood had also reviewed the petition and had no comments. The P&Z board then voted unanimously to approve the petition for annexation.

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