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Carbon commissioners ratify zoning changes

Aggie Peirce stands in front of the home she is trying to sell. She and a neighbor were just granted new zoning for their properties.

Sun Advocate reporter

The fourth time was the charm for South Price residents seeking to re-zone their property.

Pace and Tonda Hansen and Aggie Peirce applied to have more than 64 acres re-zoned from five acre parcels to two-and-half but ran into some opposition from neighbors forcing them to undergo two additional hearings. After being bounced back to planning and zoning the residents were finally granted their request at the June 18 Carbon County Board of Commission meeting.

"I fully recognize that you are surrounded by different zonings from RR5 to RR1," said Commissioner Bill Krompel to the Hansens and Peirce. "But I want to add a caveat to the planning and zoning commission when they are making these changes."

Krompel and Commissioner Steve Burge voted at their May 6 meeting to send the request back to planning for a second review before making a final decision. Their decision seemed to be spurred on by very vocal neighbors who showed up for the May 6 public hearing and protested the change.

Citing various quality of life issues Brett Griggs asked the commissioners not to allow the change to two-and-a-half acres. He stated that his family had moved to the area for solitude and freedom and that the smaller parcels would open the door for development and crowding of the rural area.

While the protests resounded at the hearing, Krompel had another issue he shared at the June 4 planning and zoning meeting on the requests. He further expounded on his concerns June 18 before voting to approve the change.

Projecting a little hand-drawn map of the area on to a screen Krompel detailed his concerns about the impact future development on O'Brien Road, that he says is narrow and not built to withstand heavy traffic flow.

"I had a traffic survey done on three roads," he said. "On 3600 South, which has 12-foot wide lanes and a shoulder, there were only 44 vehicles a day; on O'Brien there were 300 to 400 and 2460 South which is also plenty wide has 260 to 280 cars."

However, Commissioner Mike Milovich reminded his colleague that while the information was important that it simply had no place in considering a zone change.

"These points can't be part of the equation," Milovich said.

Milovich was reiterating points made at the second review of the application by the planning and zoning board members. Somehow, the discussions on the requests focused mainly on issues that were tied to development, such as increased traffic flow and density.

The board members and county planning staff seemed a little confused as to how it had evolved into considering future problems, when proposed development wasn't on the table.

Peirce said she was pursuing the change because she wanted to sell her home and that the tentative purchasers just weren't interested in buying five acres of property. The Hansens whose property is across the street from Peirce's said they decided to go in with her on the request to support her efforts and for reasons of their own.

"Aggie needs this change to sell her house and I want to do it because I can," Pace Hansen said.

Krompel however, seemed to see this request as an opportunity to bring to the forefront some broader concerns.

"I would like to see the planning and zoning board more actively involved in our county planning process and looking for solutions to some of our road problems," he said.

Milovich, who also serves on planning, assured the crowd and his fellow commissioner that the board takes concerns into consideration.

"To say that planning and zoning has been engaged is unfair," he said.

With the issues aired Krompel and Milovich moved to approve the zoning change. Commissioner Steve Burge was not present.

In other business commissioners approved Restaurant Tax money for two of the county's premier summer celebrations - Sunnyside's Community Daze and Helper's arts festival.

"Prices of fuel, supplies and so forth have gone up," said Helper Councilman P.J. Jensen in asking for support.

However, before deciding on the exact amount to be granted to Helper, Milovich counseled the representatives at the meeting on fiscal responsibility.

"We have been funding you guys for the last 10 to 11 years," he said. "We want to encourage you to move forward so you can be more self-sufficient."

The festival's co-director Melanie Steele said that they have been trying to pull in enough private support to keep the festival afloat and that they were able to go one year without the county's help.

"Last year was the first year we did not apply for the Restaurant Tax," she said. "We did put out an application for a grant from the state but there were too many others competing for the same money. That's the reason we are coming back for help."

Steele's co-director Marilou Kundmueller seemed a little confused as to why there would be a question of supporting the festival.

"I don't see why there would be any hesitancy on the county's part to keep funding the art's festival," she said.

Milovich informed her of the history between the entities.

"You keep giving us promises and commitments of where you want to be and where you are going," he said. "But we are still here. What is your financial plan? How are you going to make this sustainable."

Despite the caveats, the commission approved $12,500 for this year's arts festival, which was half of what the committee was seeking.

In addition, Krompel and Milovich approved giving Sunnyside City $1,200 to support the rodeo at this year's Community Daze.

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