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County planning board reviews draft of proposed zoning ordinance revisions

By Sun Advocate

During a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 5, the Carbon County planning commission reviewed the draft rewrite of proposed zoning ordinances.
Most of the changes involve only the names of zones. But there are significant changes in the offering in some areas of the county, including the addition of a 12,000 foot zone that does not exist in the current code.
“The more I look at it, the harder it is for me to keep these ordinances in line,” mentioned commission member Linda Topolovec.
What Topolovec was referring to was the number of 8,000 square foot zones the ordinance presently has and would have under the rewrite.
“We need that number of zones,” explained the county planning director Dave Levanger. “There are many kinds of buildings on that size of lot. We need it to keep the consistency.”
“For instance, multiple family dwellings and single family areas need to be designated,” pointed out the planning director. “There needs to be areas where single family homes can be built and multiple family structures such as a duplexes aren’t. Multiple dwelling units tend to bring down property values for single family residences.”
Most of the changes in the zoning areas that the officials are proposing have to do with really describing what goes on in certain areas, added Levanger. Right now, the terms are not very descriptive.
“We are going to really look at these and decide what goes on in those areas,” said the county planning director. “We want to use global positioning to look at real watershed areas instead of supposed ones. That way when someone comes in for a zoning change for a building permit or conditional use permit we can be more specific about the area and what is going on there.”
The county’s geographic information department is beginning a project to look at the areas. The springs, streams and wells will be pinpointed to within a few inches of where the areas are on maps.
Discussing the county watershed, the commission addressed the situation around Scofield Reservoir and the construction of structures in the area.
“Often, people will buy a parcel of land around the reservoir and think it is a place where they can build a cabin or structure,” indicated Levanger. “Just because someone owns property next to the lake doesn’t mean they can build. They need a plot plan that includes sewer and water provisions.”
In the past, the county’s zoning guidelines have allowed for the building of cabins on a 5,600 square foot lot. But that may change.
“Personally, I think the bigger the better,” stated Levanger. “Some of those lots where people have cabins have no room left to park even a car.”
Carbon Commissioner Mike Milovich, county government’s representative on the planning board, spoke about his personal experience with the situation.
“I own one of those types of lots up there with a 700 foot cabin on it,” pointed out Milovich. “I had to buy a small piece of land next door so, when people come to visit or I have guests, there is a place for them to park. Some of the people up there on those lots must have visitors park on the highway when they have guests because there is not room.’
Topolovec was also concerned about the water quality with so many structures in the area and others that may come in the future.
“As far as I am concerned, the shores around the reservoir are probably the most critical of watershed areas,” said Topolovec. “And maybe they should be more important than we have viewed them before.”
The planning commission members agreed that they needed to look at larger lots around the lake for the purpose of building structures, possibly in the 12,000 square foot range.
“There will be a lot of comment about this idea,” predicted Levanger. “There are a lot of people who own land up there and think they can build on it. But we have already told them they can’t without the proper provisions.”
Another matter of importance involves the move to establish a general building lot size of 12,000 square feet and moving away from the traditional 8,000 square foot lots across the county.
“Homes seem to get bigger with every generation,” commented Richard Tatton, planning commission chairman. “I just look at what my parents had, what I have and what my kids have done. Each generation builds bigger homes.”
Currently, the county has provision for 8,000 and 20,0000 square foot lots, but nothing in between. The problem is the building set backs. Once large houses are built on a lot of 8,000 square feet, there is little space left.
“That’s the reason we’re proposing a 12,000 square foot lot, too,” said Levanger. “That’s roughly a quarter acre lot.”
Acting on other business items, the county planning commission:
•Granted a request for a conditional use permit and zoning change from CE-1 to CE-2 for a gas well from the JM Huber Company in Emma Park on property owned by Jim Jensen.
The request involved one of the company’s wells that was already in place that had fallen through the cracks when permits were issued.
The concern was raised by other land owners in the area during the planning commission’s meeting last month. Discussion ensued about the conditions set up with each well site. One of the things brought out at the last meeting was that wells should never have less than a five foot fence surrounding the sites.
•Approved abandoning the French Quarter subdivision in Wellington and rezoning the property back to RR-2.5. The decision was made after two months of debate. George Harmond, deputy county attorney, studied the issue and indicated that a hold-harmless agreement signed by property owner Gary Scow will eliminate liability for Carbon government.

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