SHERIDAN — While Sheridan County commissioners did not fully buy into the arguments made by neighbors regarding a landowner request for a lot size variance, they denied the request that would have created two parcels out of 110 acres.
The request came from Nelson Goose Creek, LLC, which sought a lot size variance to form a 75-acre and 35-acre plot in an area currently zoned agricultural.
The area in which the property is located — as well as adjacent areas — are identified as agricultural/resource on the Future Land Use Plan, which is part of the county’s comprehensive plan. Currently, parcels of land in that area are required to be at least 80 acres per dwelling unit.
Neighbors of the property spoke against the variance. One said that a new home and outbuildings would block the view of the Bighorn Mountains from her home. Another expressed the need to avoid piecemeal exceptions to zoning rules.
Zoning regulations allow for variances “when special conditions and a literal enforcement of the regulation results in unnecessary hardship.”
Megan Crow of MC2 Engineering & Construction spoke on behalf of Nelson Goose Creek. She noted the lot sizes of surrounding properties also vary in size. The hardship, she said, centers around the idea that lifelong ranchers need resources in order to retire.
“They want to retire,” she said of ranchers like her client. “But they need some money to be able to retire.”
By dividing off a piece of the 110-acre property, Nelson Goose Creek would be able to more easily continue its agriculture operation and raise funds at the same time.
County commissioners acknowledged the arguments, but most noted the applicant's case did not adequately demonstrate hardship.
“A lot of effort when into our plan to conserve the reasons we all live here in the first place,” Commissioner Terry Cram said. “There is always going to be someone caught on the edge. … If you make an exception here, another exception and another exception, pretty soon the plan doesn’t mean anything.”
Board Chair Nick Siddle was the only commissioner who voted in favor of the variance, indicating he believed private property rights should weigh heavily on the decision.
Despite being denied the variance, Nelson Goose Creek could pursue a conservation design subdivision to split the ownership of the land for residential purposes.
In other business, Sheridan County commissioners:
• approved a bid for work on the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library roof. The bid went to Dick Anderson Construction, Inc. with a base amount of $1,025,385 and a unit price of $234 for each 32-square-foot piece of sheathing material that needs replaced. The commissioners also approved a bid for Y Environmental for asbestos testing related to the project.
• approved a lease agreement between the county and Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Association.
• approved an application for federal assistance to fund a long-term parking lot at the Sheridan County Airport. The project involves grading, paving and drainage design for the area just south of the airport manager’s office. The lot will provide an additional 96 parking spaces. The total estimated project cost is $1,066,667, with the Federal Aviation Administration paying $1 million, the Wyoming Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division paying $40,000 and the county covering the remaining $26,667.
• approved the notice of intent to adopt rules and regulations governing the Trailside subdivision at Woodland Park, an affordable housing project. The notice opens the public comment period on the rules. A public hearing on the rules is set for Dec. 4 at 9 a.m.