Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter Photographer 

Commissioners deny Branin land use change

 


The Hot Springs County Commissioners met Tuesday evening for their second meeting for the month of April.

Mary McDougal with Hot Springs County Public Health approached the commissioners for approval to apply for a grant through TNF/CPI that would cover children in danger of out-of-home placement within the county.

The grant is one Public Health has applied for and received over the last 15 years in conjunction with the counseling center aimed at helping children, their parents and grandparents and even foster families.

The first year, the grant was awarded in the amount of $45,000, however, McDougal said it has decreased every year since the beginning with just $20,000 received last year. The grant is a federal grant that comes through the State Department of Family Services.

The commissioners approved McDougal's request, letting her apply for the grant in the amount of $30,000 for the coming year.

Derrick Burrows spoke with the commissioners regarding the possibility of purchasing approximately three acres of the land at the old airport that borders his land in the hopes of "squaring up" his property.

Burrows indicated that he would consider other alternatives such as allowing access to the airport across his property from the highway, something he feels could be beneficial to the county once a decision is made on what to do with the old airport.

The access would allow folks to get to the airport via the highway rather than having to go through town and up airport hill, something that could be a boon, especially when the weather is bad in the winter.

Currently, Burrows has some non-permanent items on the county's land and the commissioners asked that he remove those items until a decision is made, letting him know that they will keep his suggestion in mind as they go through the re-use discussions.

A public hearing was held on the Branin land use change that came up before the Land Use Planning Committee last month.

At the time, the committee passed the land use change up to the commissioners with a "do not pass" recommendation.

The land use change revolves around an approximate six-acre plot of land in the Kirby Creek Subdivision. The owner, Leslie Branin, would like to have four cabins and two RV parking spaces on the land with the intent to build her own home there some time in the future.

Several surrounding landowners voiced their negative opinion of the project, citing safety concerns for families and livestock in the area as well as their dislike of the possibility of having what they feel amounts to a hotel in the midst of agricultural land.

A single home septic system was installed on the property along with a duplex featuring two "cabins", much like hotel rooms, along with the two RV spaces. Another duplex is in the planning stage for the property.

Ed Luhm, the attorney representing Branin, said his client wants to do what's right to make everything come together and requested the commissioners approve the land use change to commercial.

Luhm said his client is in a bit of a quandry over the entire situation and knows there are a lot of conditions associated with the project that are going to cost her a lot of time and money, but she is willing to do whatever is reasonable.

He said Branin feels this is a reasonable use for the property even though it kind of falls between the cracks of a rental property and a vacation rental.

County Attorney Jerry Williams indicated that the commissioners may need to look even deeper into the situation, citing a property near the canyon that wanted to do basically the same thing, but the fire marshall stepped in and required a sprinkler system for the buildings, bringing the business opportunity to a halt.

In order to grant the land use change, the plans for the property must meet the absolute checklist provided in the county's land use plan.

All three commissioners agreed the plan does not meet the requirements in the absolute checklist and consequently denied the land use change.

 

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