SUBLETTE COUNTY – Landowners with property zoned “agricultural” could have a new option to split off and sell smaller parcels than 35 acres that would keep the parcels’ ag zoning intact.
Sublette County Planner Bart Myers said the county planning and zoning commission (county P&Z) and his staff spent several meetings discussing how ranchers, for example, could sell smaller parcels in keeping with the spirit of the minimum lot size for parcels in the Agricultural zoning district which is 35 acres.
The proposed changes are scheduled to be presented to the Sublette County Commission Jan. 15 for approval, he said.
“The overall density is one dwelling per 35 acres,” Myers said, explaining that the ag landowner could choose to sell 10 acres to a friend or neighbor as long as the “parent parcel” is at least 70 acres or more total.
A 10-acre piece would then need a dedicated “open space” of 25 adjoining acres on the ranch or larger property to make up the total of 35 acres – without actually having to sell all 35 acres. The result would be a smaller piece of property with ag zoning.
“The overall density of one dwelling per 35 acres is in keeping with the statutory exemption from County subdivision regulations,” Myers said.
This “open space subdivision” option would be totally voluntary but would allow more flexibility for ag-land owners, he said.
The open space could still be used for agricultural purposes such as grazing or haying. Structures with three or more walls or roofs would not be allowed on that dedicated open space and lands with conservation easements would not be eligible, Myers added.
This rule, if approved, “codifies” the process by which prior ag-land owners were allowed to divide off less than 35 acres, that have been approved by the county over the past seven or eight years, according to Myers.
“We had no standards,” he said. “But we had a precedent set. We needed to develop these standards. A lot of time and thought went into this.”
Myers said he and the county P&Z commission all felt there should be better options for ag landowners to choose from if they want to sell a parcel and maintain the zoning than to “carve up a ranch into 35-acre parcels.”
“Again, it’s an alternative,” he said. “It’s not required; it’s voluntary.”
The following is an excerpt of the proposed zoning change that includes the development standards for agricultural landowners considering this “open space subdivision” option:
“Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 1 of the Sublette County Zoning and Development Regulations, entitled Administration; the Sublette County Planning Department proposes the addition of the following amendment(s) to the text of the Sublette County Zoning and Development Regulations:
CHAPTER II - ZONING DISTRICTS
Section 3. Authorized Uses.
b. In the Agricultural District (A-1):
(5) Agricultural Open Space Subdivisions in accordance with Chapter III Development Standards, Section 44 of the Zoning and Development Regulations.
CHAPTER III – DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS
Section 44. Agricultural Open Space Subdivision. In the Agricultural zoning district, Minor Subdivisions in which designated open space is provided and the density does not exceed one dwelling unit per 35 acres shall be allowed, subject to the following standards:
The Agricultural zoning is retained with Agricultural Open Space Subdivisions.
a. The parent parcel which will be subdivided must be at least 70 acres.
b. Setbacks for the Agricultural zoning district shall apply.
c. Livestock may be maintained on lots created as part of an Agricultural Open Space Subdivision in accordance with Chapter III, Section 32 of the Zoning and Development Regulations.
d. Newly created Lots shall border and adjoin each other.
e. The newly created lots shall border and adjoin the designated open space.
f. The designated open space and Minor Subdivision lot(s) created are required to be under the same ownership and part of the same parent parcel at the time of the application.
g. Structures with three or more sides and/or a roof are prohibited within the designated open space.
h. Designated open space may be used for bona fide agricultural uses and operations and may not be within an existing or future road easement.
i. The designated open space may not be committed/used as open space for any other purpose.
j. The area proposed for the open space designation shall accomplish one of the following objectives:
1. Protect or provide space for agricultural uses;
2. Protect or provide space for wildlife habitat and/or migration corridors;
3. Protect or provide space for waterbodies, wetlands and/or floodplains;
4. Protect or provide space for scenic vistas, as viewed from public roads.
a. The subdivision plat shall show and define the designated open space and include a plat warning restricting development within the designated open space.
b. An affidavit shall be recorded with the County Clerk. The affidavit shall addresses development restrictions and standards found in this Section which apply to designated open space. The plat warning and affidavit shall be in a form acceptable to the County Attorney.
c. Vacation of the Minor Subdivision lots and/or open space shall require County Commissioner approval.
For the complete article see the 12-18-2012 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-18-2012 paper.
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