Joint County-Marbleton growth workshop
Reporter’s Notes from February 8, 2007 meeting in Marbleton
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
February 12, 2007
Representatives from Sublette County Commissioners and Planning & Zoning met with officials from the Town of Marbleton on Thursday, February 8th, at the Marbleton Town Hall. This was the first of two joint workshop meetings with the incorporated towns in the county to discuss housing needs and growth issues. The purpose of the meetings was to hear what each other’s needs and concerns are so they can do a better job of coordinating their planning and decision-making processes.
County Commissioners Bill Cramer and Joel Bousman were present, along with Planning & Zoning Board members Albert Sommers, Suzy Michnevich and Carmel Kail, and County Planner Bart Myers. Sue Hoefer spoke for the Marbleton Town Council. Paul Scherbel, Sublette County Surveyor, and Laurie Latta, Sublette County Community Development Advisory Board Coordinator, were also on hand. No one was present from the Town of Big Piney. Developer Cecelia Richardson from Pinedale gave some input as interested public.
County Commissioner Bill Cramer said that in his discussions, he has heard two main issues come up for the Marbleton area: Obtaining a land swap from the BLM for an industrial site and infrastructures for a parcel zoned for a trailer park. Big Piney has not brought forward any large issues.
Proposed Marbleton Industrial Site
Town Councilwoman, Sue Hoefer, said they have been trying for several years now to get the BLM to move on their request for 40 acres south of the present County Shop (intersection of Hwy 189 and 351 near the Fairgrounds) so they can use it for an industrial site. The BLM has told them they would sell the land at assessed value. The Town does not have the money to buy the land, so they are hoping the County will help with purchasing it. The proposed industrial site would be on both sides of Highway 189, south of the Fairgrounds and current county shop. She noted that the BLM told them they didn’t want to talk with the Towns about these proposals because they were too busy with oil and gas work.
County Commissioner Joel Bousman said he was going to be meeting with Governor Freudenthal on Wednesday (February 14) and he would take the Town’s BLM land request applications to him and try to “jar something loose” to help.
County Surveyor Paul Scherbel noted that the Town has also applied to the BLM for additional land so they can extend the town’s sewage lagoon, however they have seen no action from the BLM on that request. He said they have asked for 40 acres, and the BLM said they might get 10. Scherbel said the Town has a problem with the current sewer lagoon because it doesn’t meet state standards in the winter for aeration. Because of this, the Town will have to build a treatment plant.
There was some questioning about why the BLM was using the antelope travel corridor as a reason to hold up the land swap for the golf course, yet their new BLM building being constructed in the same place sailed right through? The response the BLM gave was that they don’t own their new building, they are just leasing it.
Town of Marbleton’s needs
Commissioner Cramer asked if the Town of Marbleton needed any more help with infrastructure? He noted the Commissioners have already given each incorporated town $5 million to use as they saw fit for their needs. When asked if that money had to be matched by the Towns, he said no, and the Towns can spend it however they want to meet their budget needs.
Cramer asked if the towns needed new money for any new projects? Hoefer responded no, not right now. She said their current projects are street work, drilling two new water wells and the sewer projects, which are already funded. The town currently has six water wells, however two aren’t producing very well and have low pressure. When the new Marbleton Eiden subdivision is annexed, they will need to put in a new sewer line, which the developer will pay for. The Town will pay for the difference in the size of the pipe, Hoefer said. She noted the Town of Marbleton is about $3 million short on their street work money. She also mentioned the Town of Marbleton wants to cross Highway 189 with a new water line to reach new development going on in southeast Marbleton for new housing and the proposed new Recreation Center. She said they eventually anticipate the Fairgrounds complex will be annexed and would hook up to water and sewer services from the Town of Marbleton. The Town and fairground planning committee are keeping that in mind for their future expansion plans and anticipated needs.
The Town of Marbleton is interested in working with any developer who would like to put in a mobile home park. Commissioner Cramer said, “For me, a trailer park is the real solution to the low-income housing we need.”
The future for Marbleton-Big Piney area
There was some discussion about the need for more amenities in the Big Piney-Marbleton area to give people more things to do. This is one of the reasons for wanting to build the new recreation center. Commissioner Bousman noted that in their discussions with several oil and gas companies, they have had requests to include more things in the town facilities that would be beneficial to the oil and gas industry employees and their families. Things specifically mentioned were classrooms for work-force training and day-care facility needs. Councilwoman Hoefer said they want people to put down roots here. “If we can build some features, we can grow,” she said.
Cramer said the county is finally financially able to do a lot of things. They don’t want to micro-manage the towns. They all need to get a grip on where the needs are and how much it costs. The Commissioners are going to dedicate an investment fund for these kinds of projects and use the interest as payout money to support local projects. They can do more now because they have more money and they have joint powers agreements and boards in place to make things work. He also said the Commissioners expect the Towns to eventually pay the County back for the money they are front-ending.
Cramer emphasized that the Commissioners do want to see local involvement and strong support for any of these kinds of projects, like the Marbleton Recreation Center. He wants people to get involved and put their own sweat equity into the projects so the locals have a vested interest in it. He encouraged people to be vocal and become involved if they were in support of a project and wanted to see county support for it.
Bousman said the Commissioners would also like to see something in writing from the Towns that gives them an idea of what they anticipate their future needs will be, and what kind of financial assistance they might want from the County, to help with the larger planning process and joint efforts.
Cramer added that they are doing what they can to move these things forward. He said county budget packets will go out soon with the budget being finalized in July. The Commissioners still don’t know what the assessed value will be for tax revenue, but they anticipate it will increase from oil and gas tax revenue. “Even though prices are down, volumes are up,” he said.
Planning Workshop in Pinedale
The County Commissioners and Planning & Zoning Board members will hold a similar meeting with the Town of Pinedale Council and Planning & Zoning to soundboard their concerns sometime in March.