By Brad Mosher
Fallon County Times
The unanimous denial of a conditional use permit request Monday has proposed developer George Bailey looking for another possibility.
“We are just stymied,” Bailey said after the public hearing concluded.
“We’ll investigate it. We, as a group, have to determine how we can move forward and probably investigate having our annexation and zoning rescinded. Then we can start from scratch. We were just getting caught up in the Catch-22,” he said.
“I wasn’t here (when it started) but we bought into the project and we are dealing with the way the project is.
“Our goal was to put in some really high-quality living opportunities before the people of Baker,” he said. “We’ll figure it out.
“If there was a way to … redo it, we would do it. But, I would think from what we heard from Forrest (Sanderson), the best thing would be to de-annex and get ourselves removed from the city. Then we could start all over with the process, or sell our land – whatever happens,” he added.
The challenges are still how do you conform and how do you get it done, Bailey explained. “It is nobody’s fault. It is just a complex situation that we have to investigate,” the former Plevna School superintendent said.
“I love it here,” Bailey, who currently is living in St. Regis, said.
Council denies permit
The Baker City Council unanimously denied the request for a conditional use permit by Bailey, who is the managing member of the Eagle Landing RV Park. The property involved included 26.7 acres.
He was requesting a conditional use permit to establish a new 14 space recreational vehicle park with an office/washroom facility.
According to Bailey, the purpose of the project was to meet the short-term residential needs of visiting construction workers and season hunters. “A lot of the people that do the construction phase of the pipeline live in RVs during the period of time that they are here (in Baker). Consequently, all of the existing spaces were taken,” he explained to the board.
Bailey said that there was slightly more than one acre which could be used for RV parking. “It was unoccupied. Technically, I thought we could have put 30 sites there.”
According to Kevin Dukart, the city’s zoning administrator, the project had eight areas of non-compliance which needed to be addressed by Bailey for the project.
The property involved is currently zoned as R-4, Dukart explained. It was part of a preliminary approved phased subdivision.
“The tract is currently zoned Residential 4 which permits single family attached and multi-family dwellings. The current use zoning of the properties east, west and south of the property are zoned R-2 attached dwellings, or agriculture. To the north, is general commercial,” Dukart said.
Dukart referred the conditional use permit to the city council.
The zoning administrator explained that the conditional use permit application did not sufficiently conform to conditional use criteria.
Dukart cited a dozen shortcomings, including not conforming to Fallon County growth policies, not conforming to 25-foot setback guidelines, not conforming to a 50-foot access to a public right of way, adverse issues regarding the developers ability to complete the subdivision due to the R-4 and R-2 zoned designation, absence of a plan to extend Kimball Avenue, absence of a lighting plan, absence of a plan for improvements on 6th Street West regarding curbs, gutters and sidewalks, absence of extension of the public water main and the absence of a design plan to provide fire hydrant services to the development, absence of a drainage analysis, departure from the public meeting statement denying the recreational vehicle plan use for the subdivision and non-conformance with the proposal to findings of fact.
“The zoning administrator recommends denial,” Dukart told the council.
Bailey responded to the non-compliance items cited by the zoning administrator that most of the problems could be handled. “Fire hydrants? We definitely would want some fire hydrants. If there was a need for more, we would definitely address that,” he said. “We definitely want to have lights in there for the people.”
Bailey also stressed that the community still needs RV spaces for people coming to Baker to work on proposed construction projects. “They’ll need a place to live or we’ll force them into neighboring areas. It would also increase the city’s tax base.”
During public comment, the council listened to several proponents, several local residents speaking against the permit being granted as well as one saying he was neutral about the permit, but had questions about how it would impact the community planning procedures.
One opponent said that whether or not the construction workers and others come to Baker looking for RV spaces, once it would be built, it would not go away. “There are a lot of people over there on 6th Street that do not want that. They don’t want it as neighbors. They don’t want it to bring down property values,” he said.
According to Cody Strandbakke, the RV park will bring people in who are not conducive to raising families.
Anna Straub felt there were several shortcomings to the project. “I haven’t seen a map. R-4 housing should stay that way,” she told the council. “It sounds like there are a lot of issues in non-conformance. I ask the board to deny the petition.”
Others cited increased traffic on the residential street and the project just being a temporary solution which will drive down property values.
Sanderson, a senior planner at KLJ Engineering and the city’s subdivision administrator, spent more than 20 minutes explaining some of the problems and unintentional impacts the city would face if they approved the conditional use permit.
He brought maps of the subdivision. “What it shows is the master plan that was approved by the city council encompasses all of the R-4s which runs along 6th,” he said.
“I am presenting as a neutral party. It matters not to me one way or the other how you decide on the land use issue. What matters to me is the fact that this is a major subdivision and it holds an approval. That approval has some 15 years remaining.
“For the life of me, I do not know how I could file a final plat when the proposal before you (the council) this evening for a subdivision has never been through preliminary plat. I don’t know how we get that done,” he said.
“We have established that all of the property under the application is all R-4 and R-4 does allow for RV Parks as a conditional use. Storage of RVs is not an RV Park,” Sanderson stressed. “Those are two separate and distinct land uses. One of those land uses is subject to subdivision. That being an RV Park.“It creates a quandary,” he added.
“We have already established it doesn’t hold an approval for an RV Park.”
Sanderson quoted from the original application. “The project description of the Eagle Edition Subdivision – a 73 lot residential 34-townhouse lot 136 residential units via six apartment buildings on two proposed lots, a combined area for storage units and recreational vehicle parking and one community center major subdivision and buildings for lease or rent project.
“I didn’t hear RV Park anywhere in that description,” Sanderson said.
He also cited a public statement by the owner that specifically said they would not be building an RV Park.
He questioned if the original project would have received approval if it had mentioned RV Park in the initial paperwork. “We will never know that answer,” Sanderson said.
He also said the subdivision’s phases one, two and three were off the table because of the change to an RV Park.
“That’s fine, but what happens to the interconnecting roads, the water system, the sewer system and the traffic patterns,” Sanderson said. “The compatibility is all part of subdivision review and approval.”
In addition, approval of the conditional use permit could put the city and the developer in a position where they no longer adhere to the binding contract that is subdivision approval for the project. “Therefore, the conclusion would have to be arrived at that the approvals are void,” he added.