For the week of July 1 thru July 7, 1998  

Silver Creek hunting cabins pass

Cattle feedlot will moo-ve

Express Staff Writer

A Picabo rancher who wants to build three guest cabins edging scenic Silver Creek won the county’s nod last week.

Nick Purdy’s application to build the 2,500-square-foot "cabin-like" guest accommodations as part of his RR Ranch hunting and fishing operation finally won over Blaine County hearing examiner Jill Eshman.

The cabins are considered part of Purdy’s agricultural business, and Blaine County has no ordinance spelling out what a "guest ranch" is, exactly.

"The way I was first presented with it, it didn’t look like a guest ranch to me," Eshman said at the last public hearing on the matter in June.

She asked Purdy to prove beyond suspicion that the cabins were not, in fact, a three-lot subdivision in disguise.

Eshman’s suspicion was not without warrant.

Purdy plans to sell about 12 yearly, monthly and weekly permits to stay in the cabins.

Though Purdy and attorney Ed Lawson insisted the cabins were not a masked subdivision, the yearly passes troubled Eshman.

She said they could serve more as a year-long lease than a permit for intermittent stay.

To darken the line between "guest ranch" and "subdivision" Eshman handed Purdy a few conditions along with his approval.

"A residence shall not be occupied for more than 30 consecutive days...and in no event shall a permit holder occupy a residence for more than 150 days in any 12 month period," Eshman’s decision reads.

Purdy must also send a Blaine County administrator his quarterly report of who used each cabin, when and for how long.

"All attempts are being made to preserve the Silver Creek and its surrounding areas." Jill Eshman, Blaine County Hearing Examiner


As for the cattle feedlot, when Purdy relocates the 500 head of cattle to his adjacent property farther from Silver Creek, he must apply for another conditional use permit from the county planning and zoning department, Eshman decided.

Sheds, corrals and mangers will be torn down, manure and some soil will be removed and topsoil and gravel will go in to cover the area.

On Purdy’s behalf, Eshman wrote, "All attempts are being made to preserve the Silver Creek and its surrounding areas, including respecting a 50-foot riparian setback."

This part of the application is what convinced the Nature Conservancy, a group that owns a conservation easement on the proposed cabin sites, to back Purdy.

The Nature Conservancy amended its original agreement with Purdy to allow the cabins to replace the feedlot, which was considered damaging to the Silver Creek ecology.

Purdy must still show the P&Z administrator actual floor plans for all three cabins before he can apply for a building permit.


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