Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

County considers new rules for large parcels


February 11, 2021

County regulations provide guidance as to what a landowner may and may not do when it comes to such things as placement of mailboxes and cattleguards – but only if they own less than 35 acres. Concerns are mounting that there are no rules governing the much larger parcels that are now being sold to people moving from outside of the state.

“A whole lot of people are coming here who don’t share the same values we do,” said Roger Connett, Crook County Land Use Planning and Zoning Commission.

Nobody wants more regulations, he said, but there should be some basic things in place for these large lot subdivisions.

Commissioner Fred Devish provided an overview of the problem at last week’s meeting: the county is experiencing an influx of new residents from all across the United States and realtors are now picking up deals for thousand-acre tracts and breaking them up into parcels. These parcels, he said, are above the 35-acre limit at which the county’s regulations apply.

Things will certainly work differently in Crook County to what these new residents are used to, Devish said, so it would benefit the county to get ahead of the potential problem. Road & Bridge Foreman Morgan Ellsbury agreed that it’s easy to imagine the owners of these expensive new houses at some point fighting with his department to obtain a better county road or an increase in maintenance.

This, said Ellsbury, is a way to address the problem beforehand in the same way the county sets expectations for smaller parcels. It’s unlikely to catch every potential problem, but it provides a basis.

“We need a way to get them to the table beforehand,” he said.

County Attorney Joe Baron discussed the role of covenants in the development of subdivisions, and also noted that any time you can introduce a review process that encourages the developers to spend some time and money making sure things get done properly, the result is always better.

The current county regulations for subdivisions cover issues ranging from design and engineering standards to street lighting, fire safety and drainage. Devish suggested that other counties will have dealt with a similar issue and may have documentation that can be used as a starting point as the land use board begins investigating possible regulations.


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