P&Z board, 4-1, recommends 5-acre housing over deer, pronghorn

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The audience was smaller than expected at the Sublette County Planning & Zoning Board’s July 21 meeting but those who came spoke mainly against two rezoning requests to intensify development around Daniel.

The P&Z board of five – Pat Burroughs, Chris Lacinak, chair Blake Greenhalgh, Ken Marincic and Maike Tan – showed less enthusiasm for mixed zoning on the Dover-Noble parcel at the Daniel junction of Highways 354, 191 and 189, voting, 3-2, with Marincic and Greenhalgh its supporters.

Then came the second rezoning request by Jason and Melinda Moyes to rezone 299 acres of ag ranchland to Rural Residential-5, allowing up to 51 lots across Highway 191 from 40 Rod Road, 7 miles north of Daniel.

They agonized longer but in the end Moyes pitched that he always planned to subdivide when he bought the property. Would the board rather see his vision or several 10,000-square-foot “mega-mansions,” he asked.

After more comments and questions, time came for the board to choose whether or not to recommend the rezoning to county commissioners. Greenhalgh and Marincic voted aye, Tan voted nay, and Burroughs and Lacinak visibly struggled with their decisions then supported rezoning, 4-1.

Dover-Noble rezone

County planner Dennis Fornstrom reviewed the Dover-Dorothy Noble Trust application first, explaining WYDOT still owns adjacent property and the 28-acre, ag-zoned parcel’s neighborhood “has seen a lot of construction activity over the years.”

It would have a road through the center, highway commercial frontage and light industrial uses for perhaps contractors’ shops, according to Ryan Wells, Jorgensen surveyor (and chair of the Pinedale P&Z Board).

“It’s surrounded by three major highways, one of the busiest intersections in the county,” Wells said of its “best and most efficient use. It’s a great opportunity for the county to grow responsibly and provide an opportunity for small businesses here.”

Dover explained that “active” light-industrial listings are around Sand Draw, the Pinedale Airport and places farther from Pinedale. The family’s water-well drilling company would move there from the Pinedale Industrial Site.

Burroughs asked about greater sage-grouse.

Wyoming Game and Fish’s Brandon Scurlock said upcoming state regulations would limit sage-grouse core habitat surface disturbance to 5 percent of the “new Daniel core area” that covers much of Sublette County.

Developers would “purchase debits” from a sagebrush-habitat “bank” at five debits per acre over 5 percent, at about $6,000 per credit, he said.

Tan questioned heavy traffic entering Highway 354 across from the Daniel Junction complex.

Wells said the colored map of rezoned lots did not necessarily reflect a subdivision master plan. Traffic and water studies wouldn’t occur until that point, Wells said.

Lacinak checked with Fornstrom: “Technically we’re not doing the actual lots (mapped) here?”

Fornstrom said acreage for each type of split rezoning could be added together and reconfigured for a subdivision request: “The acreage amount is what they’re proposing for rezoning.”

Dover-Noble public comments

Tia Leo is a homeowner on Horse Creek Road where residences face the proposed light-industrial and highway commercial lots, she said.

“To me this is a residential area. Those are all homes here,” she said, adding many neighbors fell outside the distance to receive notifications. “Keep industrial in industrial – you give them a blank check for what they could put there.”

Dover’s request for multifamily housing could bring eight units for every 5 acres, Fornstrom said.

WYDOT estimates that every housing unit uses its entrance on average 10 times a day, Leo said.

“We are not Jackson Hole. We are not their bedroom community. I don’t think Sublette County wants to be a bedroom for Jackson Hole.”

Leo reminded the board that those already owning homes there need their rights protected too. “Don’t forget the people who have been paying taxes here for 20 years.”

Katie Robertson noted the parcel’s proximity to the Green River and its creeks. “My biggest concern is the watershed. There’s a very special habitat there.”

Greenhalgh said MFR-requirements for water and sewer are “a Wyoming DEQ thing” for a subdivision master plan.

Lacinak said “so many zones in one area” went against the grain for him; highway commercial lots made sense but he “would like to see something complementary to the Daniel Junction” instead of light industrial on the corner.

Burroughs compared the map to pieces of spaghetti thrown “against the wall and pick whatever sticks.” “Employee housing” would mean rental housing; Burroughs would prefer “mostly commercial” although Leo made good points abut changing Daniel’s character, she added

Greenhalgh touted mixed zones, referring to dead cities and factories where housing can’t be built. “Apartments is what Sublette County needs because no one is going to play with the town (of Pinedale).”

Rich Johnson addressed the MFR potential for Teton County employers to pay $4,000 to $5,000 a month, “inherently housing more of Jackson’s work force rather than Sublette County.”

“I don’t think where people work is of any relevance to Planning & Zoning,” Greenhalgh said.

Rezoning would set a precedent with billionaire Joe Ricketts owning about 60 acres across the highway, Leo said.

“Who owns acreage across the street has nothing to do with this application,” Greenhalgh said. He asked the board if the application met Sublette County Comprehensive Plan’s 10 goals.

Lacinak called it “a very difficult decision; there’s not a clear right or wrong here.”

Marincic agreed, saying the county has fewer businesses now than when he was a kid.

Burroughs said nothing gave her a “clear and convincing” view that it agrees with the comprehensive plan.

Tan said, “We all want things to grow – I don’t know if they all follow the comprehensive plan.”

Moyes’ rezone

Fornstrom described pending boundary changes if Moyes’ application is approved. The “sliver” across Highway 191 on 40 Rod Road is the single 10-acre parcel. On the west side of the highway, the larger parcel would split into 5-acre or larger lots.

Shaffer said the proposed building layout for 51 lots take into account for the pasture’s topography, slope and drainage. He described meetings with the Papes and Vandersloot ranch owners to provide complete access to their important Apex Irrigation Ditch.

Deeds and surveys for boundary changes will be prepared for county commissioners, he said. Remaining water rights on Moyes’ parcel would be divided between each lot.

“The surrounding lots are 10 acres,” Tan said. “Is it more lucrative to make it 5 acres?”

Moyes said 51 lots is “our worst-case scenario.”

Topography requires 5-acre lots in some places and with flexibility he could have some 5-acre to 10-acre pieces.

“If the worst case is 5-acre lots, what is the best-case scenario?” Marincic asked.

Moyes’ “best guess is we’ll end up with 30 to 40 lots in there.”

Burroughs asked what would stop a buyer from wanting to split a 5-acre lot in two.

“They’d have to come back to you to split it,” Moyes said.

He talked about his vision for “an open corridor,” wildlife-friendly fences and space for families to have livestock. He and Seehafer acknowledged needing to address upcoming policies for greater sage-grouse core habitat and mule deer-pronghorn habitat and corridors.

Seehafer said, “Going forward in Sublette County with any new subdivision it’s going to affect how we develop in the future. … We’re going to break the ice.”

Scurlock said this property is “very important” for mule deer and pronghorn summer and winter ranges. The migration corridor there is “fairly narrow,” he said

One sage-grouse lek will require mitigation “in some way to maintain open space while developing,” he said.

Mule deer and pronghorn maps show high and medium use there, he said.

Game and Fish funnels wildlife via highway game fencing to overpasses by Daniel with “no option but to cross there.”

Marincic asked if lots could be clustered.

Moyes suggested a covenant that “creates unbuildable places” 150 feet from each fence.

Game and Fish, wildlife groups and citizens worked hard to prevent an Endangered Species Act listing for greater sage-grouse, Scurlock said. “Each lot will have a horse, dog and fence.”

Seehafer showed similar subdivisions, all on the east side of Highway 191, from Warren Bridge to Green River Ranches and 40 Rod, most with 10-acre lots.

Public comment

Tesa Manning agreed there is a “housing crisis” but “I don’t think Sublette County zoning regulations encourage us to consider the needs of other counties.”

“Once we infringe on the migration routes – it’s something we can never take back,” she said. “… I don’t know if zoning more property in the northern part of the county is a good long-term approach.”

This would be the first development in that stretch west of the highway north of Daniel and wildlife shifted there away from east-side subdivisions, Mark Anselmi noted.

Anselmi served on the Sublette Mule Deer Migration Working Group for the Red Desert to Hoback migration route.

Anselmi said mule deer have a great fidelity to their migration route that Moyes’ “alleyway going through the subdivision” would disrupt, he said. “Let’s leave this zoned agricultural and be on our way.”

“I’m here for the wildlife,” Dave Stephens said. “If history repeats itself, this subdivision would go through.”

Dan Bailey referred to biologist Hall Sawyer’s migration studies and suggested the board use those “for all of Sublette County to keep the migration route for mule deer open.”

He asked, “Do we block off more of the path for mule deer? We would never get it back.”

Johnson said “three-quarters” of the lots in Green River Ranches and Warren Bridge subdivisions are vacant, asking Moyes what he was selling his for. Moyes didn’t know yet, citing factors.

“What he’s going to sell his land for has nothing to do with rezoning,” Greenhalgh said.

One woman supported the rezone, saying younger generations want to return here and raise their families.

Also, Fred Pape said he believed Moyes has the right to do what he wants with his property.

Moyes told the board: “I hate to play the ‘what if’ game. We did buy this land with the intent of subdividing. … Sublette County is behind in housing, it needs housing just to stay alive.”


Lacinak liked the “thoughtfulness” of the request. “This is tough. We do need housing in Sublette County.”

He asked if this “is a really critical piece of that migration corridor.

Scurlock said it was a “fairly narrow corridor.”

Burroughs said her decision would be “straightforward except for the wildlife issue.”

Marincic said he wanted clarification of the state’s new wildlife guidelines and directions. “I can’t deny his request, myself.”

“These maps tell the story for me – migration,” Tan said. “So that’s where I’m at.

Greenhalgh said Moyes could divide the property into eight 40-acre lots – “Eight houses or 30 houses, the deer are still going to be bothered.”

Sublette County needs more housing, he said, and the choice here is “mega-mansions or reasonably affordable housing.”

“Until the state wants to make real orders and real decisions the state should have made 30 years ago, it’s hard to sit here and stomp all over private property rights,” he said.

Next meeting

Sublette County Planning & Zoning Board recommendations are forwarded to Sublette County commissioners for final votes. These two rezone requests are on their Tuesday, Aug. 2, agenda. Greenhalgh advised people with comments to come in person to voice their opinions.

For more information, contact Sublette County Planner Dennis Fornstrom at [email protected]


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