RRDD rezone passes first read

Mark Tesoro photo Local developer Chauncey Goodrich speaks to the Pinedale Town Council and others gathered about a proposed RRDD in Pinedale during the council’s Jan. 10 meeting.

PINEDALE – Following public discussion, the Pinedale Town Council voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 695 on first reading, amending the zoning classification for a 27.26-acre parcel of land located north of Pinedale Elementary School from residential to a Recreation Resort Development District (RRDD) on Jan. 10.

The rezoning ordinance must pass two more public readings by the council before it is adopted.

Chauncey Goodrich, representing Wind River Resorts as the petitioner for the rezoning, presented plans to develop the parcel into a five-star, luxury, Class A motorcoach resort.

On Oct. 11, the town council passed Ordinance 692, establishing a Recreation Resort Development District as a new zoning category by a 5-0 vote with no public opposition on third and final reading.

A motorcoach resort is one of five primary uses allowed under RRDD zoning, along with a hotel or motel, a convention center and facility, recreation vehicle parks and campgrounds and other tourism-oriented resorts.

The idea to create a RRDD zones in Pinedale emerged a year and a half ago, said Mayor Matt Murdock on Jan. 10. Months of discussion and work by town staff and stakeholders went into the process to develop the RRDD ordinance as another avenue for economic development in the community, he added.

The rezoning petition, or Ordinance 695, passed a public hearing before the town’s planning and zoning commission on Dec. 6, said Abram Pearce, director of public works.

The rezoning ordinance, along with Goodrich’s plan to develop a motorcoach resort, received public comment for and against the proposal at the P&Z meeting, Pearce added.

The primary objections to the rezoning proposal included increased traffic, light pollution and water rights, Pearce told the council. Individuals in favor of the rezoning highlighted the economic benefits of a resort.

Getting the neighbors on board

During the rezoning process, all adjacent property owners within a certain distance are notified and given the opportunity to oppose the petition, town attorney Ed Wood explained.

The rezoning initially received enough opposition from neighbors to require 75 percent of the town council, or four of five members, to vote in favor of the proposal, Wood said.

All but one of the adjacent landowners dropped their opposition to the rezoning by the time the ordinance was presented for first reading on Jan. 10, Wood told the Roundup. As a result, a simple majority is needed for the rezoning ordinance to pass each reading.

Goodrich said he reached out to landowners and Sublette County School District No. 1 to discuss irrigation issues, access points and other concerns that came up at the P&Z hearing.

Tesa Manning, an adjoining landowner, told the council that, following multiple discussions with Goodrich, she felt Goodrich “remedied” the irrigation and access issues she was worried about.

While she preferred the rezoning include a conditional use clause restricting Goodrich to his original intent to use the resort for motorcoaches, she could live with the rezoning.

Lindsey Gooch, an adjoining property owner, said she had good conversations with Goodrich and he was receptive to her concerns, leading her to support the rezoning.

Talli Manning, also a neighbor, said despite Goodrich’s best intentions, there was no guarantee in place that he could sell the land to another landowner, “opening the gates” to wider development.

What is a Class A Motorcoach resort?

Class A motorcoaches tend to be top-end recreational vehicles, what Consumer Reports calls “bus-shaped models” in contrast to trailer campers, camper shells attached to trucks or camper vans.

Prices for Class A units vary widely, starting at approximately $90,000 and rising above $400,000, according to Consumer Reports.

Goodrich emphasized the differences between a motorcoach resort and an RV park. Parcels in a motorcoach resort are sold as property rather than rented out on a short-term basis, he said. In addition to investing in a Class A motorcoach, residents at the resort would also need the finances to purchase and develop their lot.

Goodrich’s plan included strict appearance standards and provisions for a homeowner’s association to enforce community codes to maintain the resort’s luxury character.

Goodrich’s proposal included 128 motorcoach lots spread across 16 acres. This density compared to the housing density permitted under exiting R-2 zoning designation with 77 single family houses or 155 “self-contained units,” Goodrich explained.

Motorcoach resorts tend to be seasonal, Goodrich continued. A resort in a location like Pinedale would operate primarily during the spring, summer and fall.

Motorcoach and RV use is growing in popularity as a form of travel and a means for people to live in seasonably desirable locations and work from home, Goodrich said.

Out of 16 Class A motorcoach resorts existing in the U.S., Goodrich said only two were located in the Rocky Mountain West.

Goodrich’s resort proposal fit Pinedale’s economic development plan, he said, offering commercial diversity and boosting other local businesses.

Goodrich also highlighted new job opportunities created by his development and the additional local tax revenue, in addition to water and sewer fees the resort would generate.

To develop or not develop

Members of the public expressed support and opposition to the rezoning at the Jan. 10 meeting.

Ilse Tan described Pinedale as a wonderful place to visit family, surrounded by beautiful scenery – a community with a unique, friendly flavor “unlike any other in the West.”

Tan worried Goodrich’s project could negatively alter the community’s character.

Tan said Goodrich could “do better” than a luxury motorcoach resort to enhance the community.

Chris Holmes expressed concern that Goodrich could resell the land, setting a precendent for people to buy property and change zoning code to fit their individual needs.

Holmes underlined Pinedale’s motto, “All the civilization you need.”

“Is Pinedale still a gem when everyone can have it?” Holmes asked.

Goodrich stressed his roots to the community and Wyoming multiple times, adding that he had no intention to create any development other than a luxury motorcoach resort. He also highlighted the time, effort and investment he put into the concept.

Mayor Murdock said he understood the desire to maintain Pinedale’s identity, but the reality is Sublette County was growing and changing. The town’s goal is to foster a strong economy reaching beyond the energy sector in a responsible manner rather than closing the door to all forms of change.

Murdock said he preferred to partner on development with individuals like Goodrich, who had strong ties to Pinedale and Sublette County in contrast to working with outsiders.

Jim Hamilton, co-owner of Pine Coffee Supply, read a letter in support of the rezoning signed by 10 business owners in Pinedale. The RRDD would provide “new opportunities to prosper as businesses” and represented a “commitment to moving Pinedale into the future,” he said, reading from the letter.

Sublette County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joanie Christie said the RRDD rezoning was a “great step up” to “foster new businesses” in the community.