Commissioners affirmed by a 3-2 vote the special use permit application decision by the County Planning Commission for the Pine Tree Inn and Bakery in Panaca, with certain stipulations.

Pine Tree is a bed-and-breakfast offering year-round accommodations in Panaca. The special use permit would extend to another property the owners have purchased.

Commissioner Varlin Higbee said the board spent about 90 minutes discussing the item June 18 and hearing from both sides on the issue.

He said the Panaca Town Board had first denied the request by owners Robert and Carol Mathews and Shane and Jenny Mathews on a 3-2 vote.

“Then it went to the Planning Commission,” he said, “and there the request was approved, but that was a divided vote, also.”

According to Commissioner Nathan Katschke, Karl and Tanya Black of Panaca then appealed the Planning Commission decision to the Board of County Commissioners as an agenda item during the June 18 meeting.

After lengthy discussion and hearing both sides of the argument, commissioners affimed the Planning Commission’s decision in a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Paul Donohue and Nathan Katschke voted No.

Katschke said that in passing the item, it does include some stipulations, i.e. “a fence along one of the property lines that a neighbor requested and changing language in the special use permit from ‘rooms’ to ‘rentals.’”

Higbee said some of the neighbors in the area of the Pine Tree expressed concerns of potential increased traffic and parking on N 3rd Street.

“But,” he reasoned, “Pine Tree Inn and Bakery is not an event-oriented place,” and he didn’t think it would generate as much traffic and parking as might be of concern.

He said part of Pine Tree does have an event center where family reunions, weddings, receptions and various other social events could be held, “but not a high number of such events each year.”

Katschke said he voted against passing the item because “the County has an ordinance that defines what a bed-and-breakfast is. In the ordinance, it allows for no more than five rooms to be rented out and is not supposed to be in an area zoned for rural residential.”

However, County Planning and Building Director Cory Lytle said, “A special use permit can modify allowable uses in almost any zoning district. Our County Code specifically states that a bed-and-breakfast is allowed within a residential area by acquiring a special use permit.”

Katschke added, “The Planning Commission had not allowed the additional bunkhouse unless it was used in conjunction with the whole property. Commissioners did not change that clause.

Even though he voted against issuing the permit, Katschke said he felt since the permit was asking for just one more room, it wouldn’t be that troublesome. “I just wanted to see it go in accordance with our laws and ordinances. And I am not opposed to changing an ordinance later on either.”