SUBLETTE COUNTY – Three items on the Sublette County Planning and Zoning Commission’s Feb. 18 agenda, covered the county from a subdivision setback to a wireless tower in Daniel and a first-time lot division in Bondurant.
Topics from the meeting are next brought before Sublette County commissioners at their March 2 meeting along with the five members’ recommendations about approval – or not.
First, Mandie Huffines came to ask the P&Z Commission if it would recommend approval of a rear-setback variance request in Carmichael Hills. It turns out that this subdivision has a 40-foot setback, substantially larger than the county’s standard 25 feet.
Huffines and her husband Jared want to build a shop on their property at 36 Arrowhead Lane and she requested a variance from the subdivision’s 40 feet to the county’s 25 feet.
County planner Dennis Fornstrom explained, “The shop would be within the 40 feet but outside the county’s required setback.”
The homeowners’ association “was fine with it” and to work through the P&Z process, he said.
P&Z Commissioner Pat Burroughs asked if there was opposition.
Property owner Latner Straley, whose family’s property is adjacent and zoned agricultural, stood and addressed her and fellow members Maike Tan, Chris Lacinak, Ken Marincic and chair Blake Greenhalgh.
“We’d just as soon see the setbacks maintained,” Straley said, with concerns about setting a precedent. “So we are opposed – do not change the (setback) as it was originally written.”
Straley said his family’s 70 acres is part of the former Carmichael agricultural property before the subdivision was created next door. Most of the buildings were built before the county did any planning and zoning.
“Our concern is with the other lots surrounding us now and likely in the future there could be variances to allow encroachment to go beyond what was originally planned.
Tan asked Huffines if the couple considered other locations. They had, but would have to move the septic and utilities and possibly build another driveway.
“We’re asking for 25 feet but we only need an extra 5 feet,” Huffines explained. “We asked for 25 because that’s the county standard.”
Lacinak asked Straley if it changed his position if the Huffines only needed 5 more feet.
“People say, ‘You have plenty of room’ … but the subdivision’s been quite invasive on our property,” Straley said, using trampolines and arrows as examples.
Huffines asked if the 40-foot setback was changed to 35, would he be okay with it.
Another option, Greenhalgh said, was to petition the homeowners’ association to see if everyone’s 40-foot setback could be reduced to the county’s 25 feet. “But whatever is written on your plat is law.”
He continued, “Five feet seems like not a big thing but I agree with Lat – we will be setting precedents in the future – not only Carmichael Hills but elsewhere. I think we need to stick with it.”
Straley said, “It disturbs me – we’ve never even spoken; there’s never been a conversation between us about their plans and what they intended to do.”
“Would it have made a difference?” Burroughs asked.
“Possibly,” he replied. “In a nutshell, would we be able to discuss this or is this what it is here tonight?”
Fornstrom said the HOA could potentially amend its entire subdivision plat without consulting with Straley.
“Lat, are you willing to work with them if it doesn’t have to be done tonight?” Marincic asked.
Straley said that would be his preference.
The P&Z Commission moved and voted to table the variance request.
Union Wireless’s Tyler Hall and Daniel’s Jean Hayward for the community center were up next with a conditional-use permit request to build a 50-foot broadband tower at 18 School House Lane, near the building’s southwest corner.
It would be a power pole with a dish and array to provide residential Wi-Fi service for 1 to 2 miles along the west side of Daniel, Hall said.
“Union is interested in Daniel and Pinedale and places in Sublette County because these smaller markets are overlooked,” he said. The Daniel Community Center will be reimbursed for Union’s tower on its premises.
Tan asked if other services like Verizon could co-locate on it – “There is a lot of need for more wireless down the road. Would it be possible to add to in the future?”
Union wants to keep the service to a 2-mile range of Daniel and might ask for another 50-foot tower to serve people on the east side of the highway, he said, and other providers would probably want separate towers “because it is very competitive.”
Fornstrom said a 50-foot tower is not large enough to co-locate on; new tower regulations being drafted will address more of these issues.
With the condition this tower can’t be increased in size without P&Z approval, the commission unanimously approved the permit.
Bondurant lot division
Fornstrom introduced a minor subdivision request from Mike Jackson, representing Monument Ridge Ranch, LLC. The 35-acre vacant property is part of Bondurant Ranches, where lots can only be split once with one lot larger than 10 acres according to its covenants.
The agricultural lot would then be rezoned as two rural residential-10 lots that could not be split again without becoming a major subdivision.
Neighbors Laura Nugent and Fred Morris, who bought the adjacent property last fall, asked about the impacts of moving from agricultural to RR-10 zoning.
Fornstrom said RR-10 lots have more restrictions than “nonconforming ag parcels.”
“Ag can do almost anything that has nothing to do with agriculture,” Greenhalgh added of conditional uses. “… Ag zoning has no restrictions on the number of livestock per acre.”
Homeowner association president and neighbor Johnny Walker explained the history of Bondurant Ranches, saying some owners do not want lots split at all but people have that right written into the covenants.
In the past, someone submitted their plans to the homeowners’ association. He and wife Shawn Walker bought 70 acres there in 1993.
“I see the flood coming into the areas we live in now; it’s going to be more and more of this we’re going to be confronted with,” he said. “We’ll have the sprawl come.”
Greenhalgh said he understood – “But that’s the way it’s written. You need to get together as a homeowners’ association and change the CCRs.”
Fornstrom asked for motions to change the property zoning and approve a minor subdivision of 16 to 18 acres each. All voted aye.
The Sublette County Planning & Zoning Commission is working on policies for “short-term rentals” such as Airbnb and VRBO and wants public input.
Fornstrom scheduled a public workshop for Thursday, March 25, at 6 p.m.