The Riverton City Council is pictured at a meeting in May. (File photo)

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton City Council Tuesday night signed off on a Business Ready Community grant from IDEA, Inc. as the first step in making land now in use by the Wyoming Honor Farm available for development. IDEA, Inc. is the city’s economic development organization.

“We had to reapply after we withdrew our first application last month when the Wyoming Business Council raised questions about what we planned for the land,” City Administrator Steven Weaver said.   The parcel in question sits north of Walmart and south of Honor Farm Road, all on the east side of Highway 26/789.

The process of turning the state land into private hands was initiated in the last legislative session when Sen. Eli Bebout’s bill, S.F. 90, was adopted that allowed surplus state land to be sold.

“Riverton is mostly landlocked and this parcel would allow additional commercial and residential development to the north,” Weaver said. “We really don’t want the land, the point is to get the property into private hands, but we had to be involved to get the land into an auction. It’s a long process with many steps.”

The 300 plus-acre parcel has been valued at $1.66 million dollars.

“Our proposal to the business council contains a 100 percent recapture agreement after the land is sold if we (IDEA, Inc.) gets the parcel. We will bid the valuation amount and if someone bids one dollar more than we do, they’ll get it,” Weaver said.

Provisions of S.F. 90 would set aside money for the State Department of Corrections for them to buy other nearby land to replace this parcel. The DOC is concerned they would lose valuable crop land if the sale goes through, Weaver indicated.

The council also approved a conceptual plan for the property that contained where roads, commercial property and residential zones would be located on the site. “We want a full-scale development there. It’s the only way to grow,” he said.

The revised proposal will be presented to the Business Council at its August meeting to be held in Powell.  If the application is approved, it still must go through the Wyoming State Land Board and the State Loan and Investment Board, made up of Wyoming’s top five elected officials.