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SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s County Commissioners have overturned a decision by the county’s public works office to enable J2 Inc. to operate a U-Haul truck rental business along Fort Road in the Downer Addition.
The board held a zoning appeal hearing during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, where they unanimously agreed the truck rental business could fit under a loose definition of permitted uses described by the county’s zoning regulations. The property in question is zoned C-2, commercial, a classification that provides for the establishment of small retail or wholesale businesses, shipping ports and warehouse activities.
Sheridan County Planner Mark Reid explained his office was obligated to deny the initial request.
“The first thing the office does is ascertain if the proposed use is listed in the zoning ergs table of permitted uses,” Reid said. “The proposed use, generically speaking, of a rental business nowhere on the table is listed.”
Reid said it was unclear whether a rental business would fall among the allowance provided for closely related industries described.
“The staff is obligated to apply the standards evenly across the district,” he said. “There may be some attributes of the Fort Road location that are desirable from a business standpoint, but we don’t have that discretion.”
Deputy County Attorney Lynne Smith said the commissioner’s decision will act as a precedent for all other areas within the county zoned under the C-2 designation.
Commissioner Tom Ringley commended the public works office for deferring the decision to the board of commissioners, as the proposal fit into a gray area of zoning regulation.
In other business, the Sheridan County Commissioners:
• issued a five-year quarry permit to Leo M. Ankney to expand an existing gravel quarry north of Beatty Spur Road by 48.1 acres.
The permit also includes crushing and hauling operations with provisions that the area to be mined must be staked off, maintain a 100-foot setback from the Tongue River, and avoid mining three prominent drainage ways on the designated property. The quarry will share dust abatement costs on Beatty Spur Road with the county, and will operate within established hours.
• confirmed the reappointment of Les Engelter to a four-year term on the Board of Directors of the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center.
• accepted an agreement from the Wyoming Department of Transportation for 2013-14 congestion mitigation and air quality operations in the county. State grant funds will total $336,000 and require an $84,000 local match. The local share of the funding will come from Capital Facilities Tax revenues.
• The commissioners enacted an initiative that requires county employees to contribute 20 percent of their health insurance premium costs.
County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said in 2005, county employees did not pay any portion toward their health insurance and a uniform additional fee for other family members to be covered.
An employee contribution to the premiums was added in 2010, which required the employee to contribute 12 percent of the selected plan premiums for both family and individual coverage. Increases in 2011 and last year brought the employee-paid percentage of the premium to 15 percent. This year’s increase represents another 5 percent increase.
• agreed to request $20,800 of state airport aid to restripe the runways at Sheridan County Airport.
The request proposes an 80/20 split in funding with a local match of $5,200.
• refunded a portion of a permit fee to Garber Agri-Business, Inc., after it was determined the county road did not need to be trenched.
Nancy Garber had secured a right-of-way installation in August of 2012 and approached the commissioners again to retract her request. Garber had initially paid $800 for the permit, and the commissioners agreed to refund $450. The balance of the account was kept by the county as an administrative fee.
• granted a waiver to Montana-Dakota Utilities for licensing fees for the installation of a Natural Gas Distribution system along County Road 103, which runs roughly toward the Brinton Museum south of Big Horn.
The fee expense, $26,025, would otherwise have been passed on to MDU customers who tap in to the line.
The Sheridan County Commissioners approved the waiver, though Commissioner Terry Cram voted against the approval, citing his uneasiness at granting fee waivers when the county recently underwent budget cuts of approximately $200,000.
Commissioner Bob Rolston defended the fee waiver, and said the gas line could promote community development.
• unanimously voted to show their support for the Sheridan College bond issue that will be put to public vote Aug. 20.