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County votes against permit to avoid lawsuit

SHERIDAN – Keeping the peace prevailed in a 4-0 decision by County Commissioners on Tuesday against granting a conditional use permit for a Ranchester resident to build an accessory building for his cabinetry business.

Bradley Wieser applied for a CUP to build a 1,500-square-foot, single-story shop next to his house in the Spirit Ridge Subdivision west of Ranchester. The land is zoned urban residential, and each lot is approximately 5 acres in size.

The County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the shop at its meeting Feb. 6. At that meeting, Wieser said he would be the only employee and that he didn’t expect much traffic to or from the business since he could only do work for one house at a time.

Wieser was not at the County Commission meeting Tuesday to present his case.

Chad Aksamit, president of the Spirit Ridge Homeowner’s Association, expressed concern about the precedent that would be established if a commercial business was allowed in an urban residential area. He said four out of seven neighbors were against the shop being built.

Aksamit said the association originally approved Wieser’s shop since he already does cabinetry work in his garage and no issues have been reported. The association decided it was against the shop when Wieser asked if he could move it to the other side of his house.

Commissioner Tom Ringley asked if the association would be against the shop even if it were relocated, and Aksamit said it would because of the use of the shop.

Three or four similar steel-sided shops for personal use already exist in the neighborhood.

“Brad’s building would not be out of place,” Aksamit said.

The commissioners then heard from Mitchel Martin, an attorney with Yonkee and Toner, representing developer Drew Redinger. He said the surrounding neighbors were concerned about traffic and noise associated with a commercial business. He also noted that if the commissioners voted to approve the CUP, it would instigate litigation between Wiesers and the homeowner’s association.

In their 4-0 vote against the CUP, the commissioners cited several common reasons including: wanting to honor the architectural control committee’s stance against the shop, wanting to keep the peace and not be responsible for creating a fight between neighbors and wanting to honor the official covenants for the homeowner’s association which do not allow a separate shop for commercial use.

Commissioner Mike Nickel clarified with County Planner Mark Reid that Wieser could operate a business based in his garage since that is allowed throughout the county.

“The county cannot enforce covenants. That’s between the homeowner’s association and the person who may be violating the covenants. However, had we voted for this, we would have set the people up where they would have had to sue somebody out there in order to prevent them from violating the covenants. We would have been setting up an uneasy situation, to say the least, I would say,” Commission Chairman Terry Cram said.

In other business, commissioners split their vote 2-2 on a request from The Brinton Museum for a waiver of permit fees to build a water treatment plant on the museum grounds. A split vote means the waiver was denied, although it may be considered at a later date.

Commissioners Cram and Steve Maier voted for the waiver, and Commissioners Ringley and Nickel voted against the waiver. Commissioner Bob Rolston was away on business in Washington, D.C.

The fees associated with building the water treatment plant total approximately $2,900 for a $230,000 building.

The Brinton Museum is nearing completion of a 25,500 square foot addition. The Sheridan Area Water Supply system would need to install a pump system to service the new building, so museum staff thought it best to build a water treatment plant.

“We waived a significant amount of permit fees for the main building and have been very supportive,” Maier said. “But this came out of the blue.”

The water treatment plant was not part of the original plans for the museum addition.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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