EVANSTON — The Uinta County Commissioners approved a conditional use permit during the Nov. 7 meeting, authorizing Mt. West Entertainment to construct eight “cabinettes” near the Blacks Fork River in the Millburne area for use as rental units.
County Planner Kent Williams said the company owns 41 acres of property off highway 411 and would like to construct small cabins for group rentals. Williams said there was a well-attended public hearing a couple of months ago, during which residents could share their concerns about the proposal.
As a result of concerns shared during that public hearing, nine conditions were set for the conditional use permit. Those include limiting the use to short-term rentals, establishing quiet hours, a stipulation that the cabins were to be used by groups and only one group at a time, that construction be limited to the eight units, that the rental units not be visible from the road, that ATV use be kept to a minimum, that tents could be used only on established tent sites, that no camp trailers or RVs be allowed, and that the permit be reviewed on a yearly basis.
Williams said the recommendation of the planning and zoning committee was to approve the CUP, with the nine stipulations agreed upon during the public hearing.
Dave Nelson, representative of Mt. West Entertainment, then presented to the commission. He said the company has similar operations in other locations and he feels this property is ideal for the rental cabins. “This is a special piece of property,” said Nelson. “You have some great snowmobile country.”
Nelson said at their other locations individuals have to sign a strict contract to rent the cabins, that they rent to only one group at a time and they are primarily used for family reunions. He also said a property manager visits the site twice a day to assure that all rules are being followed.
He said the reason behind constructing the small cabins is to prevent motor homes and trailers from going in and out, potentially damaging the property. Nelson said they call them “cabinettes” because they are small, with a sleeping area and small bathroom facilities. The property already has water and sewer systems on site, although Nelson said he suspects the septic system will need to be replaced.
Commissioner Craig Welling said he thought it was a wonderful idea, but he was concerned about having a commercial operation on this property, which is near some residences, and was also concerned about the potential for increased ATV use on the road. Nelson said their group could control ATV usage on the property itself, but they had no authority to regulate licensed ATV usage on the road.
Nelson said that legally Mt. West Entertainment could already rent the property to motor homes or trailers, but they want to cut down on potential damage and construct the cabins for rentals instead.
Williams explained to the commissioners the county has no language in current statutes to restrict short-term rentals of the property or to restrict the construction of the cabins. The CUP was being sought because the county does have language regarding the rental of the cabins after construction.
Welling also questioned Nelson as to why they only sought to build eight cabins on a large piece of property. “It’s a great area and we want to keep it that way,” said Nelson. “This is not us just trying to get a foot in the door and then do something totally different.”
Williams pointed out that the CUP would require a yearly review and could be rescinded if obligations were not being met.
Welling’s final concern was about taxation of the property, given that this would be a commercial use on property that is not zoned as commercial. Williams said that the taxation would be done based on how the property is being used.
“If we were to change the zoning to commercial, that opens the door to other activities,” said Williams. “The CUP allows for some control of what is done there.” From a planning office perspective, Williams said he would much rather have the CUP than a zoning change because the conditional use permit is reviewed annually and they can take concerns of neighbors into account and keep track of what is going on at the property.
Nelson said he believes the cabin rentals could bring revenue into the county and the nearby town of Mountain View.
After all of Welling’s concerns were addressed and questions answered, the commissioners voted to approve the conditional use permit for construction and rental of the cabins.
Other items on the agenda at the meeting included the approval of an encroachment fee waiver for the Bridger Valley Joint Powers Board to install a new water line to serve the new Micheli subdivision. The commissioners approved the waiver from one government agency to another government agency operating inside Uinta County.
County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson requested a budget amendment to move $29,000 from one area of the budget to another due to some staffing changes. Hutchinson said the amendment was also necessary because of the receipt of Community Services Block Grant funding. “We have to do a budget amendment every year because the CSBG money doesn’t come in until October,” said Hutchinson. The amendment was approved.
The commissioners also approved two grant contracts with the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police for funding to conduct underage alcohol and tobacco inspections. Uinta County Sheriff Doug Matthews said the two $1,700 grants pay for deputies to conduct operations to target the sale of alcohol and/or tobacco to minors.