From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 45 - November 8, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Pine Creek Park Estates questioned

by Alecia Warren

Discussion lasted long into the night at Monday’s Pinedale Planning and Zoning meeting, where a request for preliminary plat approval for Pine Creek Park Estates addition to the town of Pinedale met large resistance.

The addition would occupy 792,359 square feet beside Pine Creek and just south of Boyd Skinner Memorial Park, and would subdivide into 12 residential lots, said representatives for Rio Verde Engineering (RVE), an engineering firm representing developer James Bowles.

Nylla Kunard, a Town Council member who lives on the corner of S. Tyler Ave. just east of where the new lots would sit, worried that development on the property might accelerate potential flooding along Pine Creek. “Over times we’ve had high water, there’s been water (from the creek) spilling clear into the park and into the house behind me,” Kunard said. “By building there, aren’t you going to push all the water out into the park further?”

Steve Harmon bolstered the complaint with his observations from living on Opal Street, which looks at the opposite bank of Pine Creek and would be west of the new development. Harmon agreed that in his 25 years of residency, Pine Creek has flooded several times and created standing water in the meadow that reaches his back yard.

RVE representative Dennis Fornstrom argued that Pine Creek Estates wouldn’t augment any flooding, however, as the fill site would sit at a lower position than surrounding homes and would lie outside of flood areas labeled in the FEMA flood delineation map.

Kunard pressed that the firm couldn’t make any guarantees, however.

“All I want is the assurance that when you build, it won’t flood my back yard, and you can give us that assurance,” she said. “What liability is there if this raises the water and forces it on us. What recourse do we have?”

An RVE employee replied that lack of liability for flooding lies at the fault of town ordinances that aren’t pursuant to the national flood insurance program.

“The recourse people should be looking at right now is getting involved with national flood insurance,” he said.

But other members of the public raised objections that had been discussed during the plan’s previous readings over the summer.

“I’m not really worried about water in my back yard,” said Sherry Kellen, who lives in the Fox Willow Subdivision and said she built an additional room in her home just to overlook the meadow where the addition is proposed. “That is such a beautiful, unique piece of property. It would be such a huge asset to the Town of Pinedale. It just makes my heart sick to think of that beautiful meadow being filled with some 2-by-4s and cement.”

The Town Council has deliberated in recent months over purchasing the property, valued at about $2 million, and preserving it as an extension to the Town Park.

But Mayor Steve Smith, who was present at the Planning and Zoning meeting, said it was too great a financial burden for the town to pursue on its own. “We’re trying to keep up on so many issues — we’re trying to keep water flowing and toilets flushing,” Smith said. “Although this is a great piece of property, the council’s discretion is at this time that it’s not fair to spend taxpayers’ revenue to do this.”

Applying for grants, in itself a drawn-out process, would only earn a pittance of the property’s value, Smith added.

But appeals to all five major oil and gas operators in the county to partner with the town in buying the land still might hold possibility.

“I’m hopeful that they’ll come forward and help us out with this project,” he said. “It would be a great opportunity for the energy companies to make the community a real success story.”

Although board members said they heard many locals elated at rumors that the Town of Pinedale might purchase the property, they agreed such elation might evaporate when townspeople realize the purchase came out of their own pockets.

“All these people who are going ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ right now are going to faint,” said board member Barbara Boyce. “Their taxes are going up $500 a year, already – people can’t afford it.”

RVE representatives added that if the town suddenly obtains additional funding, it can always purchase one of the Pine Creek Estates lots, which board members wavered over approving.

“I think Mr. Bowles has waited long enough on this project — if it gets denied just because we don’t like it, I think that’ll affect the value of the property,” Chairman Paul Rock said after a lengthy pause waiting for someone to second the motion to approve the preliminary plat. “Believe me, I see all of the issues here for the people who live out there. But I just think it’s got to move on with the hope that the town or the energy companies will snatch it up and buy it, and everybody will live happily ever after.”

The board agreed and approved the plat, with the amendment that engineering and planning concerns be satisfactorily addressed.

In other Planning and Zoning news:

— The board approved the preliminary plat of Alpine Hills Subdivision, a subdivision of Tract 1 of the Glacier Ridge Large Tract Development.

— The board also voted to recommend a county zone change with preliminary lot layout for East 40 Subdivision. The change would modify the lot from A-1 to R-R for a 60-acre parcel in order to develop a 14-lot residential subdivision.

— The board voted to recommend approval of a preliminary plat for Hidden Hills Subdivision, a 35-acre subdivision of Tract 2 of the Glacier Ridge Large Tract Development.

— The board voted to recommend preliminary plat approval for the North Sky Second Filing addition to the Town of Pinedale.

— The board voted to recommend approval for 21 townhouse units on the Redstone 9th addition between Washington Street and Jade Street.

— The board voted to recommend preliminary and final plat approval to split lots 4-5 on Redstone 7th addition into two separate lots for individual sale.

— The board voted to recommend preliminary and final plat approval to split lot 7 on Hennick’s 2nd addition into two separate houses on the property, after voting to modify the original building permit to reflect the plat.

— The board voted to recommend building an overhang on the north side of the Summit Building on Magnolia Street.

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