From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 47 - 7/20/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commission Overrules P&Z, Denies Noble Re-Zoning
Dugans also denied zone change for their truck terminal
by Rob Shaul

In a rare move, the Sublette County Commissioners have overruled the Sublette County Planning & Zoning Commission and denied contractor Mark Noble and his wife Susan's application to rezone 12 acres of property west of Pinedale from agricultural or A-1, to light industrial (I-L). The commissioners made the ruling during their regular meeting this Tuesday.

Mr. Noble's property lies adjacent to the exiting Sublette County Industrial Site. He had wished to move his business, Noble Construction, to this property from its current location next to Country Lane in Pinedale. Before he could do this, the property had to be re-zoned to light industrial.

In June, the P&Z Commission considered Mr. Noble's request and approved his application over the opposition of adjacent property owners and Industrial Site owners. Several of the Industrial Site property owners asked the P&Z Commission to make Mr. Noble grant a road easement across his property to the Industrial Site in return for approving the rezoning application. The P&Z refused to do this and recommended approval of the application based on Mr. Noble's private property rights and the property's proximity to the existing Industrial Site

Attorney Gerald Mason represented the Nobles at Tuesday's commissioner meeting. He told the commissioners that Mr. Noble's property is a "great location" for this re-zoning application because it was adjacent to the current Industrial Site. He also urged them to separate the road easement and rezoning issues.

Most of the public in attendence spoke in opposition to the Nobles' application.

David Corbisier owns residential property adjacent to the property in question. He said Mr. Noble's operation would have a significant negative impact on his dwelling and property. He was also concerned that any hazardous waste such as engine oil, spilled on the Noble property would run off and "eventually come into my water well."

Attorney Bill Twitchell, representing adjacent property owner Julian Clark, told the commissioners that Mr. Noble bought the property knowing it was zoned A-1, and didn't have any reasonable expectation that the county would allow it to be re-zoned. He told the commissioners that if they permitted this rezoning, they would be allowing the Industrial Site to "creep" into the "buffer" between the Industrial Site and the highway.

Bob Dew told the commissioners that he was mostly concerned with the poor access to the current Industrial Site. Last year, Mr. Noble opposed a proposal by Mr. Dew to purchase an easement for an Industrial Site road through property owned by Royer Clark. Mr. Noble argued that the proposed road would decrease the property value of the same property he was now requesting be rezoned to light industrial. The proposed road through the Clark property was eventually abandoned due to objections from the Army Corps of Engineers.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dew offered $100,000 to help purchase a road easement to the Industrial Site from Mr. Noble, and encouraged the commissioners to consider the access issue in their decision.

Harold Merritt told the commissioners he also feared Industrial Site "creep." Once the precedent is set, he asked "what's next?" Allowing the Nobles' to rezone their property would just "create more battles down the road." Mr. Merritt reminded commissioners that there were lots available for purchase in the existing Industrial Site.

Tommy Thompson, who owns property at the Industrial Site, told the commissioners that he didn't want to pick a fight with Mr. Noble, but "I don't think that ranch needs to be subdivided into an industrial site." He also echoed Mr. Dew's concerns with the current access to the Industrial Site.

Doug Sterk told the commissioners that he had recently purchased Royer Clark's propery which was adjacent to Mr. Noble's and he didn't want any land zoned light industrial "adjoining my property."

Speaking for the Nobles, Mr. Mason responded to several of the concerns which had been raised. He noted that Dew Lumber was once located on the same property Mr. Noble wanted to re-zone. Mr. Mason acknowledged adjoining property owners' concerns that allowing the zone change might decrease their property values, but responded that Mr. Noble also owns residential property adjacent to the parcel in question, and he wouldn't want to do anything to decrease that property's value.

Not all of the public who commented spoke in opposition to the re-zoning. Mike Looney spoke in favor of the Nobles' application.

After listening to the public comments, commissioner Gordon Johnston said that while he "hated" the current road to the Industrial Site, he felt the two issues should be considered separately. He said he would vote to deny the Nobles application because he was philisophically opposed to variances and zoning changes.

Commissioner Betty Fear also said she felt the access issue should be separate, and that she opposed the zoning change.

Bill Cramer said the appealing part of the Nobles' application was the property's proximity to the existing Industrial Site. He dismissed the Industrial Site "creep" argument.

However, he said that what didn't appeal to him was that "it didn't help us with access." Unlike the other two commissioners, Mr. Cramer openly suggested that if Mr. Noble would give on the road easment issue, he would be more open to approving the zoning change. "You can call it quid quo pro or whatever," he said. Ultimately the commission denied the application on a 3-0 vote.

Dugan Rezone Also Denied

The commissioners also denied a request by Joella Dugan to rezone her property on Ehman Lane approximately 1.5 miles north of the highway, from Rural Mixed to Light Industrial. The property is currently being used illegally for a truck terminal by Ms. Dugan's son, who halls water and drilling fluids for the oil and gas companies. This type of activity requires light industrial zoning, and it was brought to the attention of the county by complaining neighbors.

Attorney Ed Wood representing the Dugans, told the commissioners that while the property was in a residential area, there were mixed uses nearby. He cited two existing gravel pits as evidence of this mixed use, along with several small commercial enterprises. He told the commissioners that the trucks would only be used for offsite hauling, that the impact to neighbors from the Dugan's trucking business would be minimal because of this existing mixed use. Mr. Wood added that because of the limited amount of property currently zoned light industrial, it would be difficult for the Dugans to move their operation if the application was denied.

Ted Reinwald owns property on Ehman Lane, and spoke forcefully in oppostion to the application. "We don't wish to be annexed to the Industrial Site," he told the commissioners, "and this is what we see happening." He said the two gravel pits refered to by Mr. Wood were out of sight, unlike the Dugan Trucking Company. While he understood Mr. Dugan was trying to make a living, Mr. Reinwald told the commissioners that the Dugan's neighbors had "devoted their careers to their homes" and that if they approved the rezoning, they would essentially be affecting the neighbors ability to make a living.

Finally, Mr. Reinwald said the trucking operation created dust, noise and the possiblity of hazardous waste from drilling fluid runoff for neighboring property owners.

Burleigh Binning also spoke in opposition to the Dugans' application. He owns one of the gravel pits mentioned by Mr. Wood, but reminded the commissioners that before he opened his gravel pit, he discussed it with his neighbors and jumped through the planning and zoning hoops to get it approved - unlike the Dugans who applied to rezone their property after the fact. Mr. Binning said he was also concerned about the hazardous waste issue and said that even if the Dugans put up fencing to screen the property from the highway, they would only be "hiding the problem."

Butch Penton spoke in favor of the re-zoning, and questioned the concern about hazardous waste.

Bubba Larson also spoke in favor of the re-zoning application. "I don't think it's reasonable to ask the Dugans to take their operation and employees and move to Marbleton or Big Piney" where there is available property zoned light industrial. "We need more commercial, more industrial property," Mr. Larson told the commissioners.

The commissioners were also presented with a petition in favor of the re-zoning signed by 31 people.

Gordon Johnston spoke first, and said he was opposed to the zoning change. He told the group that if he was a neighbor, he'd be very angry at the Dugans.

Betty Fear said she would also vote to deny the application because she was opposed to "spot" zoning. "I think it can get out of hand really fast."

"I don't like the idea of spot zoning either," said Bill Cramer. However, he added that he felt the county did have a responsibility to provide areas for industrial activities. He noted the county is currently trying to purchase 40 more acres from the BLM to expand the existing Industrial Site.

The Dugans' application was denied 3-0, however the commissioners did not give the Dugans a deadline by which the trucking operation must cease from the Ehman Lane property.

Other Meeting News ...

Big Piney Rancher Bob Thompson asked the commissioners to pass a resolution asking the Governor to declare Sublette County a "Drought Disaster Area," so local ranchers could apply for federal disaster relief. The commission directed county extension agent Eric Petersen to form the "Food and Agricutural Council" (FAC) and make a recommendation to the Board. The FAC consists of Mr. Peterson, and representatives from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture. This was last done during the drought year of 1988.

Rex Poulson of Pinedale was appointed to the Sublette County Library Board. He replaces Dr. Gerald Wilson.

Burleigh Binning told the commissioners that he was getting out of the asphalt business and asked if they were interested in purchasing his asphalt plant. They weren't.

Tom Brown sent the commission a letter requested the opportunity to bid on the county health insurance policy currently managed by Tegeler Insurance. The commission decided to request Mr. Brown submit a quote for the policy by September 1, 2000.

The commission went into executive session with attorney John McKinley to discuss their tax dispute with ExxonMobil over the company's LaBarge Operations. No action was taken.

See The Archives for past articles.

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Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul