RBC I County commissioners approved a rezoning request for Sleepy Cat Ranch, owned by Bob Regulski, from agricultural to rural residential Monday, despite opposition from the Elk Creek Ranch homeowners’ association.
Doug Pratt, land planner for Elk Creek, argued against the unanimous recommendation from the Rio Blanco County Planning Commission to approve the rezoning, saying the analysis was not compliant with the requirements for rezoning.
County staff stated the rezoning would support the revitalization of Sleepy Cat Ranch and bring in needed tax dollars.
Pratt said the 35.32 acre Sleepy Cat parcel has “about 29 acres” in the 100-year floodplain, and 16 acres of wetlands. After required setbacks, access and utilities, Pratt said, only about 1.38 acres remain available for residential development.
By way of contrast, he presented maps showing the lower residential density of Elk Creek Ranch in comparison to any future subdivision plans by Sleepy Cat Ranch.
An attorney for Sleepy Cat Ranch stated, “I do think it’s worth pointing out that there’s a lot of acrimony between these neighbors (Elk Creek and Sleepy Cat). There’s a lawsuit pending. Part of this will be settled by a judge in September.”
In other reports commissioners heard from county assessor Renae Neilson, who said she “expects a pretty heavy protest” period regarding property taxes because “people think their property values should have dropped.”
The median home sale price last year in Meeker was $175,000, and $160,000 in Rangely.
Board chair Shawn Bolton said he wanted “to take a position against the casino” which is proposed in Dinosaur, Colo., in Moffat County, because Rio Blanco County has been “overlooked” in the discussion of potential impacts.
“No one has fully vetted it to the point where the impacts to Rio Blanco County have been addressed,” Bolton said.
The board moved to draft a letter to be sent out to the parties involved.
The board also moved to enter into an intergovernmental agreement between the Board of County Commissioners of Rio Blanco County, the Board of County Commissioners of Garfield County, the Board of County Commissioners of Moffat County, and the Board of County Commissioners of Jackson County for the Greater Sage Grouse Litigation Project.
The litigation project is a response to the BLM’s findings and recommendations regarding protection of Greater Sage Grouse habitat.
“We disagree with the numbers and science they’re using to determine habitat and set regulations,” Bolton said.
The regulations severely limit access to public land, oil and gas leasing and grazing permits in areas designated as sage grouse habitat.
In other business, the commissioners approved Janae Stanworth as the finance director for the county. Stanworth has been filling the role since the beginning of the year.