Property owner Wedge Fike testified at Tuesday’s meeting that he could no longer wait to develop the Regal Estates five lot subdivision between Riverview and Augusta. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – A gentleman’s agreement made between Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit and landowner Wedge Fike several years ago was ratified on a split vote Tuesday night after the city council took a parliamentary procedure “time out.” The issue had originally been tabled on a motion by councilor Richard Gard, seconded by Todd Smith. But after the council had dealt with several other agenda items, Administrative Services Director Courtney Bohlender interrupted the meeting for a point of order.
“I am completely out of order, but I feel uncomfortable with the tabling and I’d like you to take a recess for five minutes so I can research this,” she said. “I don’t want to do the wrong thing.” Bohlender said it was the first time in her 24 years of service that she has interrupted a council meeting.
Bohlender went to her office and brought back a copy of the Roberts Rules of Order, the parliamentary procedures handbook adopted by the city. Bohlender read directly from the handbook, which said that a motion and second to table an item must be ratified by a majority vote, which had not been done in this case. When the vote was taken, the motion to table was defeated 2-3 with Mayor Warpness and council members Mary Ellen Christensen and Jonathan Faubion voting no while Gard and Smith voted yes. The vote on the original motion to approve the agreement with Fike was then approved on a 3-2 vote, with the same split.
The agreement in question, made verbally and before the Riverview Road-Hill Street intersection reconstruction project had been delayed, and Urbigkit fell ill with a brain tumor, gave the city an easement through Fike’s property for a sewer line extension. The sewer line would make it possible for some 56 residents along Mary and Henry streets north of Riverview and for some residents on West Main to have the opportunity to tie into the city’s sewer system. Those residences now are on septic systems, many of which are failing.
Urbigkit and Fike made the verbal agreement that Fike would postpone developing a subdivision south of Riverview Road until the sewer line extension was completed, which would lower the cost of the project. Due to the geography of the area, the only feasible route for the sewer line was through Fike’s property. The delays, however, were costly for Fike, he said, because he was unable to proceed with the subdivision based on the verbal agreement. “This has cost me significant amounts of money,” he said. He also said if the city didn’t put the sewer extension in right away, he was going to proceed with his subdivision, “because I cannot wait any longer.”
Gard moved to table the discussion because he said he did not have enough information on the elevations and proposed route of the sewer line extension, despite the fact that each council member had been provided with a certified engineers map spelling out the elevations and route of the line. Smith seconded, but for a different reason. He said he was uncomfortable voting until a budget amendment had been presented to the council that would provide funding for the project, estimated at $150,000. “It’s hard to vote when we don’t know where (the money) is coming from,” he said.
Earlier in the discussion, Gard said that he didn’t think it was fair that the city would put the sewer line in at its cost through Fike’s property while he and other landowners “downstream had paid full” for a sewer line extension across those properties. “Eli Bebout paid 100 percent of the cost and so did I in the $200,000 range,” he said.
Fike said his cost was granting a 30 foot-wide permanent easement across 1,400 feet of his property in exchange for his five lots to have an opportunity to tie onto the sewer line, and the two years of finance costs he had incurred while the project was delayed. “The cost to the city would triple if I went ahead with my improvements for streets and utilities,” he said. He also said the project would benefit 56 residents north of Riverview Road.
In supporting the project, and calling for the vote, Warpness said “As (Mr. Charles) Stark pointed out, this is a good thing to do, the best thing for those on the north side of Riverview.”