The Saratoga Sun -

Update and clarify

 

February 21, 2018



Title 18, the municipal code that dictates zoning, is a bit of a mess. Much of it hasn’t been updated since it was adopted nearly 40 years ago. Along with the outdated language and standards, one also has to deal with definitions that vary from section to section. Anyone who has taken the time to read Title 18 knows it is complicated.

One of the primary reasons for these complications can be found in the varying definitions of the same structure. Manufactured home and mobile home are often used interchangeably for the same thing: a portable unit or structure that is built on a permanent chassis before being transported to a site to be used as a permanent dwelling.

How many times, though, has someone called a mobile home a trailer or a mobile home park a trailer park? When people hear “manufactured home” do they think of a mobile home or do they think of modular homes?

For example, the definition of manufactured homes under “Floodplain Management” in 18.54.020 states that a manufactured home is designated for use “with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities.” The current text of this section goes on to include “park trailers, travel trailers and other similar vehicles” if they are placed on a location for six consecutive months.

The current definition of a mobile home, which can be found under 18.06.320, states that the definition of mobile homes “shall not include travel trailers, motorized homes, pickup coaches or camping trailers.”

Under section 18.

06.490, which defines recreational vehicles, the text reads “recreational vehicles shall not be considered as a dwelling nor shall they be occupied as such.”

The permitted uses within RD 6000, which are defined in section 18.21.020, state “the occupancy of trailers shall be prohibited at all times.” Not having a clear definition of what a trailer is or is not can lead to someone having their own interpretation of the code.

Adding to the definition dilemma of Title 18 is the language of chapter 18.57, which covers mobile home parks. The beginning of this section clearly states that a mobile home park can neither be constructed nor run without prior approval and a permit from the Wyoming Department of Health. A majority of the section references the health department, but they have not performed this function since 1991.

These definitions need to be consistent and the municipal code needs updated.

The Saratoga Planning Commission is tasked with making decisions based on the wording of the municipal code. When that code contradicts itself, or references processes that have not taken place in over 20 years, the planning commission cannot make a clear decision. It is neither in the best interest of the commission nor the citizens of Saratoga for judgement calls to be made on a case-by-case basis.

The current planning commission is looking at a massive undertaking in rewriting Title 18. Yes, things will change —and change all too often hurts. As the wave of one energy boom descends and another heads our way, Saratoga and other towns in the county must be prepared.

Part of being prepared, and the task of the planning commission, is to mitigate the growth of the town. Unchecked growth may not seem to have any immediate effects, but the lasting effects are felt for generations. One only has to look at the exponential growth of Denver to see the truth of this.

Saratoga may not see an influx of new residents preceding the next potential energy boom. Whether it does or not, however, should not be the sole reason to rewrite and update sections of the municipal code. A town is a living, breathing entity and as such requires proper care and maintenance. This includes the planning and zoning of the town and making a decision on which areas should be single-family homes, mobile homes, overnight camping parks or businesses.

The planning commission should be lauded for going through the arduous task of rewriting Title 18. No malice is intended in this endeavor. This is not a case of an elite few deciding what the rest of the town should or shouldn’t do. This is a matter of ensuring the healthy growth of Saratoga.

If anyone is curious how conflicting the current text of Title 18 truly is, they can go to town hall and ask for a copy. They can also go to www.saratoga.govoffice2.com and find the ordinances online.

Everyone has, or should have, a vested interest in the future of their town. Part of this interest includes taking the time to attend regularly scheduled meetings where these discussions are taking place. Whether it is the town council, the planning commission, the landfill board or any other assembly. These meetings are important and it is where the vital decisions that will affect your town take place and they are open to the public for a reason.

Many people have busy schedules and can’t always make these meetings, we understand that. You can still get the official minutes from the town hall or read the Saratoga Sun to find out what happened. If you still can’t make it, write a well thought out letter or an email so your voice can be heard. When these governing bodies meet, they make time for correspondence and they want to hear from you.

Additionally, a vacancy currently exists on the Saratoga Planning Commission. If you want to be more involved in the future of the town, submit a letter of interest. The commission meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the Saratoga Town Hall.

 

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