It’s back to the drawing board for both Triple D Construction firm and Trivest Enterprises. The fates of two separate development projects likely hinge on zone change amendments that have to pass through the Saratoga Planning Commission, and neither got the nod from the commission at a July 12 meeting attended by around 10 people.
Rory Grubb normally serves as chair of the planning commission, but since he was representing Trivest at the July 12 meeting, he recused his spot at the table early on in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Trivest wants to build six townhouses on an approximately 4.2 acre parcel on the southern end of town, West of HWY 130 on Sierra Madre Avenue. That parcel is currently zoned RD 7200, but to construct the townhomes, Grubb petitioned to have the parcel changed to RD 9000.
Tim Lamprecht, the owner of nearby Valley Foods, pointed out at the July 12 meeting that the RD 9000 designation would allow for the future construction of a trailer park. Grubb offered assurances that he had no intentions of building a trailer court, but this did not sufficiently quell the anxieties of Lamprecht and the commission.
“One thing we got clarification from the attorney on is that we cannot make any zoning change contingent on anything else,” commission member Will Faust explained to Grubb. The board then voted down Grubb’s proposal.
Grubb said that though he was disappointed in losing construction time as summer winds down, Trivest would be reapplying for a zone change to RD 9002 at the next planning commission meeting. The RD 9002 designation does not allow for mobile homes, and this appears likely to address the commission’s concerns.
Triple D announced July 12 that it was pulling its zone change application rather than going ahead with a vote. Technically, the zone change was being applied for by Swanson Brothers, the current owners of the land in question on the western edge of town, but the Swansons designated Triple D to represent their interests at the planning commission. Triple D wants to purchase the lot from Swanson Brothers, but will only go through with the purchase if they are able to develop the land to their specifications.
According to Brian Drake of Triple D, the construction firm will now be pursuing the development through a “planned unit development” (PUD) process instead of through the zone change process.
“It seems as though there’s no ordinance to do what we’re trying to do (on the parcel),” Drake said of Triple D’s latest approach.
Drake said a PUD would allow his firm and the planning commission to work together more closely during the drafting process and he hopes this greater flexibility will let him address the regulators’ concerns as they arise. Triple D representatives have presented several different proposals to the planning commission since early spring, tweaking their strategy each time to address the commission’s concerns.
Other business at the meeting included a brief presentation from Carbon County Planning Director Sid Fox. Fox told the group that new state legislation has given county commissioners in Wyoming jurisdiction over town “influence areas.” These “buffer zones” are areas outside of, but within one mile of town limits. The commission agreed that the town of Saratoga and County officials should make sure that existing planning practices in Saratoga that regulate these influence areas are legal.
At the end of the meeting, the commission formally passed and adopted the Saratoga Master Plan. This had also been done at the commission’s June meeting, but a technicality had nullified that action.
The next planning commission meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. August 9 at the Saratoga Town Hall.