Planning for full-time
Saratoga Town Council discusses vacant zoning officer position
June 9, 2021
As construction appears to be ramping up in the area, the Town of Saratoga is once again operating without a planning and zoning officer. The Saratoga Town Council discussed the potential of making the position full-time during their June 1 meeting.
The discussion comes following the resignation of Alex Dorothy, who had contracted with the Town in October 2020 to perform building inspections and review building permits. The Town of Saratoga, in fact, has been without a permanent planning and zoning officer since March 2019 following the resignation of Dan Ferrin.
Kent Smith, as the planning and zoning officer before Ferrin, returned to the Town on an as-needed basis up until his own resignation in September 2020.
“Without a planning and zoning officer right now, we, as a group, need to decide how we need to keep moving forward. If we want to start advertising for a part-time or if we want to look at what we’re going to budget in the workshops for a full-time (position),” says Mayor Creed James. “If that’s the direction we want to move, do we want to start advertising now?”
James added there were three building permits at town hall which still needed to be reviewed and that, while he would try to make time to do so, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to get through all of them.“That’s something the council needs to address sooner than later,” James said. “If we’re moving in the direction of a full-time planning and zoning officer, I would think we’d want to start advertising as soon as possible to try to find applicants for that position.”
Since the resignation of Ferrin more than two years ago, the governing body has discussed whether or not the position should be full-time. When former Councilmember Bob Keel was the representative to the planning commission, members of the commission expressed their desire to see a full-time position but it was ultimately budgeted to be part-time. Even so, the Town of Saratoga had at least one applicant who preferred the part-time position.
Last year, after the resignation of Smith, Councilmember D’Ron Campbell and Councilmember Jon Nelson reviewed building permits until Dorothy had contracted with the Town of Saratoga. It was during this time when a building permit for Memorial Hospital of Carbon County to construct the recently opened Health Clinic-Platte Valley was approved. The approval of the building permit eventually led to Nelson publicly explaining his process of reviewing the permit and engaging in a discussion with local business owner Randy Raymer about off-street parking and the definitions of adjacent and abutting.
At the June 1 meeting, Campbell expressed her belief the position should be reviewed and advertised as soon as possible due to the amount of construction taking place in Saratoga. For example, Octagon Construction is currently developing one portion of a subdivision just west of Airport Avenue and Triple D Construction is constructing a series of condominiums at Vista Dawn Subdivision west of Saratoga Middle/High School.
Nelson stated the governing body should look at making the position full-time if they were hoping to hire and keep a qualified person as the planning and zoning officer. James asked the council if they should spend the next two weeks reviewing building permits while discussing the potential of a full-time position in upcoming budget workshops.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to starting advertising now as long as we don’t make the hire until the budget’s passed. I think that timeline would work. We’re not going to get somebody hired in the next two weeks either way,” said Nelson. “I think we’d need to look at the job description in further detail if we’re going to restructure it a little bit, make it into more of that code enforcement officer and not just be a permit reviewer and inspector on buildings.”
A motion to begin advertising for a full-time planning and zoning officer once a job description was in place passed unanimously.
The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 6 p.m. on June 15 at Saratoga Town Hall.