By Ernie Over, WyoToday

The Riverton City Council Tuesday night passed on second reading an ordinance changing the zoning of the United Presbyterian Church building on North Broadway to from residential 2(R2) to commercial office zoning. That’s not the end of the story, though. 

Through over an hour of testimony, residents of the area surrounding Teter Park remain opposed to the zoning change, but agreed to proceed to a third reading to find a solution that would allow the church to sell its property and for a behavior health and wellness company to buy it, with the residential area to be protected from unwanted future development.

Community Development Director Mike Miller said only one of three options is available to allow the sale under the present R2 zoning. That would be to apply to the city’s Board of Adjustments for a special use under non-conforming use provisions, but that requires renewal every three years.

A realtor representing the church and the potential buyers, Home Source Realty’s George Piplica, said it was the wish of most of the residents to go forward with the vote on second reading and then look at what uses under the commercial zone could be limited. It was noted the third reading could be postponed by two additional weeks, giving all parties more time to find a solution. 

Council member Mike Bailey urged the council to move forward with the vote to exhaust every option available before the third reading. Mayor Tim Hancock reiterated there would still be one more reading of the ordinance and he told the big crowd of residents in attendance that they are being heard and that they can be heard again at third reading. 

Much of the testimony given at Tuesday’s meeting was the same as the comments heard at the public hearing and first reading two weeks ago. Residents expressed concern that a rezone could usher in more intense development in the future.

In other business, when Hancock called for a motion to have staff prepare funding contracts for the EDGE half-cent economic development tax committees’ recommendations to fund four entities, the council fell silent. And it stayed silent for an uncomfortable amount of time. Councilor Kyle Larson finally broke the silence and said he wanted to hear from the applicants on how they intended to use the money. It was noted the budgets and usages were contained in the applications in the council packet. But Larson said he wanted to hear it from them personally. 

The committee had recommended funding Brunton Company $76,286, Legacy Foam Solutions, $90,000, Media Adventure Queen Podcast $3,464 and Riverton Youth Soccer $125,000. The Brunton funding was explained to be used to produce illuminated transits and compasses for the military, starting with prototypes the military could examine. Production would need to be ramped up with the assistance of Riverton manufacturers Legacy Molding and Pertech to supply the needed parts. Legacy Foam spokesman Reg Larson said the business is looking to expand and build an injection unit that could be used by WYDOT to repair sink holes and other such highway applications. Josh Saltsgaver said the funding to Riverton Youth Soccer would allow development of new soccer fields next to Willow Creek School. However, it was noted there may not be enough water resources available to irrigate the fields.

Ultimately, city staff were instructed to begin preparing funding agreements for all but the soccer application, but councilors agreed to earmark those funds so when the water supply issue is resolved the funds could be released.

Other business

• Rezoning of the Riverview Cove subdivision from residential R-1 to residential R2-A was approved. 

• A second reading was on the Reddon Addition Plat and Annexation in the RainTree Estates was approved.

• Councilors approved a bid from Peterbilt of Wyoming for one new roll-off truck for a price of $244,154. The bid came in $42,706 lower than the budget for the purchase. 

• The council approved a $3,548,900 award to Viper Underground for the Automated Metering Infrastructure and Lead and Copper Rule compliance Project. The only bid submitted for the work totaled $7,764,250. Viper Underground agreed to negotiate the final price. To reduce the cost of the project, all one-inch meter and appurtenances were removed from the project and 538 of the 3/4 inch meters from a total of 3,568 meters were removed to bring the project to its budget. The 538 meters removed from the work may be purchased at a later date. Estimated delivery of the meters and transmitters is 40 weeks. 

• Councilors approved an engineering proposal from Inberg-Miller Engineers in the amount of $22,700 to cover maintenance at the site of a Phytoremediation project at the old landfill off Smith Road and Park Avenue while the Department of Environmental Quality determines whether the project is feasible and can mitigate the site. The project involves the planting of hybrid poplar, cottonwood and willow trees and bushes. The roots of the plantings would intercept contaminated water flowing from the former dump sites before it would reach the Wind River. 

The council then adjourned into an executive session. (See story page 1A.)