Zoning hole and special use flowers
Saratoga Planning commission hears permit plea, zoning officer possibilities
March 20, 2019
Despite just barely having a quorum, the Saratoga Planning Commission was able to move through their agenda with relative ease on the evening of March 12 at the Saratoga Town Hall. Acting Chairman Tom Westring and town council representative Bob Keel were joined via phone by planning commission member Jim Beckmann via phone as they heard from Louis Waits, co-owner of the Flower Pot, and discussed the soon-to-be vacant zoning officer position and the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Town of Saratoga and Carbon County.
Under items from the public, Waits, joined by his wife, Kinee, and mother-in-law, Kathy Wallace, approached the planning commission about the issuance of a special use permit.
“My wife and I, we purchased it (The Flower Pot) in January of this year and we’ve been leasing a building here in town for the business and we’re applying for a special use permit from the city to be able to move it into Kathy’s garage until we can find a place that we can put the business,” said Waits. “We’re not having any luck finding a building that we can lease right at the moment. So, we’ve been talking with Dan (Ferrin) about getting a special permit and we’ve got our application and we’ve got the signatures. One of the issues we have is that, March 31 our lease comes up due on our building and we need to be out of our building by then.”
Ferrin informed the members of the planning commission that, while the Flower Pot had applied for a special use permit, there had not been enough time to properly advertise for a public hearing. Waits asked the planning commission if it were possible for a special use permit to be issued for a two week period starting March 31 until the public hearing could be held at the next meeting of the planning commission.
“We’re going to have lots of lost product if we can’t sell for those two weeks, so we’re going to ask you guys if there’s a way that we could possibly go ahead and sell out of her garage for those two weeks until you guys make a decision if we can have a permit or not. If we can’t, we’ll shut down that day,” Waits said. “I know it’s a special thing we’re asking.”
Following discussion among the members of the commission, Keel asked that Waits come to the March 19 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council to ask about the special use permit.
Ferrin had submitted his two weeks notice at the March 5 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council and, because of his resignation, the planning commission discussed how to approach the upcoming vacancy. As discussion began, Ferrin addressed the members of the commission.
“I have a suggestion, if it helps. I do know of somebody that would fill that position, if it were a full-time position. I think the town’s kind of reluctant on doing that quite yet, but if they had a recommendation from you guys to request that as a full-time position, maybe it could be filled, but that person that did it could also fill in part-time with water and streets and sewer,” said Ferrin.
Keel asked if Ferrin was suggesting the Town of Saratoga create a crossover position where the future zoning officer would also work for the streets department or the water and sewer department.
“Right. I think, as far as the planning and zoning part, it should be more of a full-time position. Probably isn’t going to take 40-hours a week to do that position, but it would be at least, probably, half-time to three quarters,” Ferrin said.
Ferrin told the commission that he was given a $20,000 budget by the Town of Saratoga and had to stay within that amount. He added that he figured out his office hours based on that budget.
“With that said, with me gone, they don’t have to pay the next person near as much because they’re not a licensed engineer and all that stuff,” said Ferrin.
Ordinance No. 844, which was passed on June 19, 2018, lists salary and benefits under planning as $51,250 per year for the 2018/2019 fiscal year with a budget for general expenses of $48,576.
Keel stated that he was not opposed to the idea of having a full-time zoning officer and suggested that Suzie Cox, town clerk, could contact neighboring municipalities to figure out what they were paying zoning officers.
Understanding the MOU
Near the beginning of the meeting, Carbon County Commissioner Sue Jones had asked the planning commission if they would be discussing the MOU between the Town of Saratoga and Carbon County. Keel had informed her that the last business the town council had acted on was for the Town of Saratoga’s attorney, Tom Thompson, to contact Carbon County Attorney Ashley Mayfield-Davis.
“Which they did and I hadn’t heard from Sid (Fox) if they came up with anything,” said Jones.
“I hadn’t heard back from Mr. Thompson, either, so, that’s where we’re at, but if you have something you’d like to discuss I have no problem discussing that,” Keel said.
It was during the Feb. 27 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council that Thompson had expressed concern about the MOU, especially in regards to building permits issued by the Town of Saratoga for the Old Baldy Club. Thompson’s concern was the town had no power to issue building permits for the Old Baldy Club nor other residential areas outside the municipality’s limits.
“The Old Baldy overlay, it sounded a lot more complicated than Sid and his staff and the county intended as far as the building permits. The town does not have authority outside of their municipal boundaries. Period. End of story. So, it is a county function. The county is not giving away its authority. The county is saying that part of our authority, in the process you have to go through with the county to get your Old Baldy building permit, is through the Town of Saratoga,” Jones said.
During the 2018 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature, House Bill 14, which restricted extraterritorial jurisdiction of municipalities outside their corporate limits, was introduced and eventually signed into law by former governor Matt Mead. Part of what HB14 amended in the Wyoming Statutes was W.S. 34-12-203.
Under the new language, when a county received a plat application, it would solicit comments from the governing body of a municipality with a population of less than 4,000 if the proposed plat was within one-half mile of the town’s corporate limit to determine effects on the infrastructure.
The MOU between the Town of Saratoga and Carbon County would, along with requiring the two entities to work together on land use planning around Saratoga, codify the issuance of building permits by the town to Old Baldy.
Keel informed Jones that he would attempt to bring the discussion of the MOU back up during the next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council. He stated that, with the explanation from Jones about the MOU, he felt more comfortable with the document.
The next meeting of the Saratoga Planning Commission will be at 5:30 p.m. on April 9 at the Saratoga Town Hall.