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Western Heritage Lumber

After hours of debate, P&Z continues Western Heritage’s lumber yard CUP application

The owner of Western Heritage Timbers asked Driggs P&Z to recommend approval for his CUP application to run a lumber salvage yard out of the old Ford garage at the north entrance of Driggs, stating that he would manufacture high-end doors and windows onsite, and he planned to improve the outdoor appearance of the property. He also stipulated that in addition to what is already onsite, about 200% more lumber and materials were still being moved to Driggs, but some would be stored offsite. Employees for Western Heritage spoke in support of their employer, while several neighboring landowners spoke in opposition to this lumberyard citing concerns about industrial noises, dust, and general unsightliness. VARD reminded P&Z that the Driggs Comprehensive Plan expressly designated a 197-acre manufacturing zone for specialty manufacturing just like this business, and it is located north of the airport – not in the Ford garage.

P&Z inquired as to whether Western Heritage could simply store all of their large stacks of lumber either indoors or at their offsite storage yard because the visual impacts of the lumberyard severely affected the neighborhood and the entrance of Driggs. The owner said it was not compatible with his business model, but he could fence and screen off the lumber from view. P&Z then debated at great length, several complicated conditions they could impose on Western Heritage in an attempt to contain and soften the impacts of this CUP. P&Z member Rob Bottner then correctly pointed out that the multitude of detailed conditions they were proposing for this CUP would be difficult to enforce and clearly indicated that this lumberyard was simply incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

When a CUP is granted in an inappropriate location, the historical approach has been to impose several complex conditions in an attempt to make the use “fit” the neighborhood. Over time however, it has become clear that enforcement and compliance are the big pitfalls of CUPs. The current situation is no different; to make this square peg fit into a round hole will create years of administrative headaches for the City and County.  

The solution here is really quite simple: P&Z should either deny this CUP and direct Western Heritage to relocate to the Manufacturing zone north of the airport, or they should allow Western Heritage to use the Ford garage as a sales office/showroom while keeping all of their wood storage and manufacturing at their offsite location.   

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