Dutch auctions, Orcutt seep and subdivisions

Pinedale Town Council tackles busy agenda

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PINEDALE – The Pinedale Town Council worked through a packed agenda in a meeting that lasted nearly two hours on Monday, Aug. 14.

Council members agreed to sell the plot of land where the old town hall once stood at 210 W. Pine St. through a descending auction. The council directed town attorney Ed Wood to draft a resolution outlining the sale process to present to the council at an upcoming meeting. The resolution will set the official date for the auction.

The town intends to host the sale this fall to give a prospective buyer time to prepare for the spring construction season, said Mayor Matt Murdock.

Town statute permits only two means to dispose of a parcel of land – a sealed-envelope bid process or an auction. An auction may follow one of two formats – an ascending auction, known as an “English auction,” or a descending auction, referred to as a “Dutch auction.”

Following a discussion, the council voiced its support for a descending auction.

In a more traditional English auction, the auctioneer sets the initial price low and potential buyers then battle to outbid each other as the price rises higher and higher.

With a descending auction, the auctioneer establishes a high price and then drops the price down in increments until a buyer makes a bid. For example, in a Dutch auction, the seller agrees to set the initial offering at $1 million. The auctioneer then drops the price to $990,000, then $980,000 until a buyer makes a bid, or agrees to the price, at $970,000. In a Dutch auction, once the initial bid is made, the auction is over.

According to the financial website Investopedia, the Dutch auction developed in the Netherlands during the 1600s as a more efficient means to sell tulips in the chaotic, competitive flower markets.

Because there is only one bidder in a Dutch auction, this format eliminates lengthy bidding wars that can erupt between competitive buyers in an ascending auction, Investopedia states. As a result, Dutch auctions proceed faster than traditional, English auctions.

Dutch auctions are “statistically” better at generating higher returns for the seller than English auctions, said Mayor Murdock.

Council members also agreed to limit the auction to an in-person event.

Once the sale resolution is passed in coming weeks, Mayor Murdock encouraged the town to maximize advertisement for the property.

“It’s worth the extra week or two to advertise this property far and wide,” he added.

Mayor Murdock also specified that the deed restrictions to the sale of the property, adopted by the council on July 24, do not specify that fast food operations can be ruled out. The deed restrictions basically limited a potential buyer to developing a retail business or restaurant on the property. The deed restrictions lacked language specifying whether or not fast food restaurants were permitted.

The concept of fast food is difficult to define, and might lead to bias that could create legal problems for the town, Mayor Murdock told the council.

Orcutt seep and pathway connectivity

The town council voted unanimously to approve a professional services agreement with Rio Verde Engineering to perform the engineering work on a project to redirect excess water from Orcutt Hill into Pine Creek. The professional services agreement is not to exceed $94,000.

Plans are underway to to pipe approximately 10,000 gallons of extra water per day from the Orcutt seep into the town’s underdrain system. A second pipe will send the water from the underdrain system into a discharge site along Pine Creek at Boyd Skinner Park.

The goal for the project is to prevent the additional water from Orcutt Hill entering and overwhelming the town’s sewer system, especially in the winter.

The project is funded through a grant awarded by the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board, with the Town of Pinedale and Sublette County splitting the local match, putting the town on the hook for approximately $159,000, said Mayor Murdock.

Water flowing from the Orcutt seep into Pine Creek will be tested by town staff for cleanliness, Mayor Murdock told the Roundup. The additional 10,000 gallons flowing into Pine Creek are expected to improve winter fish habitat, he continued.

Construction on the project to redirect water form Orcutt Hill is expected to begin in spring 2024, said Abram Pearce, director of public works.

Council members approved a professional services agreement with Ardurra Group, Inc., to move forward on the pathway connectivity project by a 5-0 vote.

The Ardurra Group acquired T-O Engineers, the company previously carrying out work on the connectivity project, explained Mayor Murdock.

The town received a $320,000 Wyoming Department of Transportation Connectivity Grant to fund the project, he added. The council’s motion on Aug. 14 increased the project costs by $7,000 to install lighting above existing pathways in American Legion Park and Boyd Skinner Park.

The council voiced its approval of the lighting system to improve safety on the pathways, particularly when moose wander across the paths in the dark, said Councilwoman Judi Boyce and Councilman Dean Loftus.

The intention of the pathway connectivity project is to link all the existing pathways in Pinedale into a single system so pedestrians and cyclists can move through the community with ease, said Pearce.

Planning and zoning

Council members unanimously approved the mayor’s appointment of Tesa Manning to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Manning is a “long-term resident in Pinedale with great ideas,” said Mayor Murdock.

A motion passed, 5-0, accepting a preliminary plat application submitted by Casey Dauwen, owner of Hat Creek Land Company, to subdivide the Crosswinds Subdivision, an L-shaped plot of land, into three separate lots.

Dauwen did not express plans to further develop the three lots at this time.

Following a public hearing where no opposition was voiced on the proposed subdivision, the council passed four variance requests waiving town code that would have required Dauwen to install streetlights, water-supply service lines, sanitary sewer lines and sidewalks. The primary reason for the variances was due to the lots remaining undeveloped in the immediate future.

The only exception the town made was regarding a variance request to waive the installation of fire hydrants. Citing safety concerns, the council denied Dauwen’s fire-hydrant variance request.

Dauwen’s stated that his reason to waive fire hydrant requirements was to avoid tearing up Wilson Street more than once if future development is pursued.