Moratorium on new large subdivisions in Pinedale?
Reporter’s Notes: No on Moratorium, County P&Z decides to recommend meetings to Commissioners
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
January 20, 2007
At the last meeting of the Sublette County Planning & Zoning Board in Pinedale on Thursday, January 18th, the suggestion was brought up to consider putting a short-term moratorium on new subdivisions in the county within the one-mile radius of incorporated towns.
Albert Sommers, chairman of the P&Z board, presented two recommendations for the board to consider. The first proposal was to fast-track a series of planning meetings between the county and town planning & zoning boards, town councils and county commissioners to try and get a better process and planning for new subdivision proposals within the 1-mile radius of the incorporated towns. The second suggestion was a 1-2 month moratorium on zone changes in the R/6000 zoning district to allow the community and planners time to assess impacts and develop strategies for growth.
Recommendation 1. County/Town Subdivision Planning Meetings recommendation
“In light of the incredible number of units (approx, 1800) currently being proposed in the 1-mile area adjacent to Pinedale, and the lack of a defined policy or consistent approach for that area, I would make two recommendations to this board for their consideration,” Sommers said.
Sommers’ first recommendation was to propose two meetings, one at each end of the county, to discuss development within the 1-mile radius to the incorporated towns. “This meeting should include the county commissioners, the appropriate town councils, town planning and zoning commissions, and the county planning and zoning commission,” he proposed. He said the meeting should include discussion on housing needs, infrastructure capabilities, community desires and vision of what they want to see, affordable housing and county involvement. He also proposed considering the development of a master plan for the 1-mile radius areas. The master plan might include recommendations for minimum densities, open-space requirements, affordable housing, development amenities, density bonuses, size of developments and infrastructure upgrades.
“I believe this recommendation should be placed on a fast-track, with the initial meetings held by the last week of January or the first week of February, and any master plan should be ready for presentation to decision makers by the end of March, at least in the Pinedale area. We have to take this bull by the horns, or it is simply going to run us down Eventually, I would like to see a master plan which includes the whole county, but focuses on areas around the incorporated and unincorporated towns. However, the 1-mile areas currently have the greatest need for planning,” he stated.
After lengthy discussion, the board voted to move forward with a combined planning meeting, trying to get as many of the county and town officials as possible to attend. The meeting was scheduled for Thursday, February 8, at 6:00 pm in the County Commissioner’s meeting room of the Sublette County Courthouse in Pinedale.
Recommendation 2: Proposed Moratorium of R/6000 zone changes
“Based upon the enormous impact 1800 units could have on the community of Pinedale, and the uncertainties of how to reach decisions on these developments, I propose we recommend, to the county commissioners, a moratorium on zone changes in the R/6000 zoning district. This moratorium should last no more than two months. The objective of this moratorium is to allow the community time to assess impacts and develop strategies for growth,” Sommers stated.
This proposal also brought considerable discussion from the audience, which was composed of representatives from local engineering firms, real estate developers, real estate agents and interested business owners and citizens. Below are some highlights of the public comments.
Mark Eatinger, with Rio Verde Engineering, expressed frustration that a moratorium would halt forward progress on plans in the works, which would result in increased costs and significant delays in getting work done. He felt that the county and town planners should already be working on getting the answers they need in the time between the official meetings and a moratorium was not needed for the government entities to do their fact-finding and research. He felt there have already been many meeting and discussions. He agreed with Albert Sommers that what they all needed to do now was to, “take the bull by the horns and just get it done.”
James Rogers, a real estate agent with Pinedale Properties, has attended many long planning meetings and workshops over the years on these same topics. He expressed frustration that there wasn’t more cross-over of the different boards attending each other’s meetings to hear what is going on in the planning process. He noted that on Tuesday the Town of Pinedale Planning & Zoning board held a special workshop on two major projects proposed for Pinedale. One was a 230-acre subdivision proposal on the east side of Ehman Lane just west of Pinedale outside the town limits. None of the county commissioners, county planning & zoning or Pinedale Town Council attended that workshop to hear what the proposals were. He said that the Pinedale P& Z Board was made aware of this meeting, but none of the P&Z members were in the audience at this meeting. He encouraged all the board members to attend and get involved with each other’s workshops and use them as opportunities to communicate and become aware of what each other is doing and thinking.
Geoff Sell, speaking first as a citizen and later as a representative of Shell Oil Company, commented about the county getting eaten up 5 acres at a time. He strongly encouraged the board to “have a plan” for moving forward. He added if there are things needed to help the boards make these important decisions, Shell would be very willing to contribute to helping make that happen. He said other companies probably would be willing also.
Cecilia Richardson, a developer in the Pinedale area, commented that her subdivision on the south end of town would have 75 to 90 modular affordable homes which would be managed by a housing authority. She was hoping to get a start on building those, and a moratorium would delay those plans to bring much-needed affordable housing to the Pinedale area market.
Greg Ptasnik, who is involved with a new development in the Pole Creek area south of Pinedale, commented that these subdivisions won’t happen right away. He said their best build-out model was for four to six years. He added that the studies are already here showing where the best places are to develop. He encouraged the board to pursue filling in the missing gaps if they felt they were still missing information.
Ron Gordon, from Marbleton, noted that the longer the boards wait, the more they burn time.
P&Z board member Judi Adler, commented that they could not legally vote on a moratorium at this meeting because that agenda topic item had not been advertised to the public. “We are in a critical situation for housing,” she said. “Someone needs to drive this community to see what we want.” She added that no one has the answers. There is no plan to tell how to do this. “We have to just stumble in the dark and do it. We’re all in this together,” she said.
P&Z board member Carmel Kail commented that she didn’t want to meet about it anymore, she just wanted to do it.
The meeting proposal will be given to the Sublette County Commissioners at their meeting next Tuesday, January 23rd in Pinedale. The template for a master plan will not be presented until the joint meeting on the 8th, if the commissioners want to proceed with that recommendation.
The joint meeting was scheduled for Thursday, February 8, at 6:00 pm in the County Commissioner’s meeting room of the Sublette County Courthouse in Pinedale.
The Board did not pass the recommendation concerning a moratorium. The County Commissioners will not be considering that recommendation at their meeting on Tuesday.
County Planner Bart Meyers said he hoped to have draft minutes of the January 18 P&Z meeting available by next Thursday, January 25th. Official minutes for this night’s meeting won’t be available until after the next regular P&Z meeting where they are approved and finalized.
Below are links to two files related to this meeting. The first is to a printable PDF for Albert’s Recommendations handout that was given to the other board members at the P&Z meeting. Note: This handout attachment does NOT include the decision by the Board to include a template for a Master Plan for development within the 1-mile radius, or the February 8, 2007 date that was decided for the joint meeting between the town & counties.
Also below is a link to an audio recording of the Moratorium portion of this meeting. This recording is the entire discussion of the Moratorium topic without editing. The official meeting before this portion, and a discussion afterwards about soil survey requirements, are not included in this audio segment. Download caution, this is a large file that will take a long time on slow internet connections.