Citizen, county, Jackson Fork Ranch arguments now Nov. 10

Joe Ricketts courtesy photo

Jackson Fork Ranch also seeks enlarged guest-ranch operation

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The fourth judge to look at the 100-plus volumes provided by Sublette County and arguments for and against commissioners’ resort rezoning approval for Jackson Fork Ranch set oral arguments for Thursday, Nov. 10, in Casper.

7th District Judge Joshua Eames set aside one hour to hear why a group of Bondurant citizens are challenging Sublette County commissioners’ majority approval to rezone 59 acres for a destination resort in rural Hoback Basin.

Commissioners stand firm in their 3-2 decision; Jackson Fork Ranch also backs up the county’s decision that was strongly opposed at public meetings.

The Bondurant citizens argue that commissioners Sam White, Tom Noble and Joel Bousman did not properly explain their reasons for approval of Joe Ricketts’ rezoning request and that the decision went against goals of the Sublette County Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations.

The oral arguments hearing is scheduled for between 2 and 3 p.m. in the judge’s Casper courtroom. It is currently described as “a telephonic conference.” 9th District Clerk of Court Janet Montgomery said the Pinedale courtroom will be open to the public.

Dead Shot Unit

On Sept. 29, Ricketts’ agent Morgan Fischer filed an application for a “guest ranch” conditional use permit (CUP) that expands the current one for the entire “Jackson Fork Unit” and Ricketts’ latest acquisition, the “Dead Shot Unit” at the end of Upper Hoback Road.

“By bringing these units under the Jackson Fork CUP, the guests occupying these (Dead Shot) units will be able to avail themselves of the full guest ranch experience (on both units),” the application says of meeting a “special need.”

Ricketts’ current CUP allows no more than 15 clients on 1,300 acres, which will remain for the Jackson Fork Unit, according to the application. He requests a limit of 40 guests at the Dead Shot and 10 youth guests in a remodeled bunkhouse.

On 159 acres, the Dead Shot has five residential units with a combined total of 12 bedrooms that are county-approved as short-term rentals.

These would become guest ranch housing with two new buildings – one, a 6,000-square-foot dining-food prep facility, partially open with “one residential facility” inside for staff. The other is an 8,000-square-foot “cabin” with eight bedrooms and additional covered areas, the application says.

Ricketts might remodel the Dead Shot’s existing riding arena into two common bunkhouse-type sleeping areas with 10 beds for young guests under 18 and a staff sleeping area, it says.

No new jobs are mentioned; the “general Sublette County area” will see economic benefits from increasing guest numbers, it says

Jackson Fork Ranch will offer a guest shuttle between the two units and customers will spend “most of their time on the ranch engaged in activities” than short-term rental guests, who come and go, it says.

The Sublette County Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss Ricketts’ expanded CUP application and two from Dry Wind LLC at its Nov. 17 meeting, 6 p.m. in the Sublette County School District No. 1 Boardroom at the Sublette BOCES building, 665 N. Tyler Ave., Pinedale.