Rezoning permit sparks discussion about housing need near Sunset

(Riverton, WY) – During the city council meeting yesterday a rezoning effort passed its first reading. The ordinance will go through two more readings. 

The property is Buffalo subdivision 1892 W Sunset Blvd, located at the west part of Sunset next to Jaycee Park, Riverton High and Middle schools. During public comment, council members debated the implications of rezoning the area for potential housing development in Riverton. 

“We are asking just for a simple rezone request, we own the land,” Patricia Fitzpatrick said during public comment. Fitzpatrick also cited Governor Gordon’s plan to address housing shortages all over Wyoming, and asserted that the land she owns could be developed into housing units.

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In the only dissenting vote, Councilman Larsen cited the capacity of Sunset Blvd as well as crime in affordable housing apartment complexes such as College Hill.

“Looking at that, the road on Sunset, it’s a two-lane highway… And you’re going to have more traffic than that physically can handle,” Larsen said.

Mayor Gard also commented that the capacity of the Police Department is a potential concern and again cited the College Hill apartments.

The apartment complex receives 400 calls a year according to the Riverton Police Department. 

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Bethany Baldes is on the planning committee for the city of Riverton and also made public comments citing the need for more housing to grow the community. She said, as a real estate agent, there are only 20 houses for sale in the Riverton community right now under $200,000 and that apartments are needed.

“How much are we holding ourselves back in Riverton and stifling ourselves by just worrying about the what-ifs?” Baldes said.

Councilman Bailey said in response to the discussion that there needs to be a stepping stone of apartments to owning a house and right now there are few affordable housing options.

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“I would agree that I think you know, we need more property like this so that we can have you know, our housing in Riverton, we’re missing that piece of the puzzle.”

Before the vote, Mayor Gard offered to put a bond on potential housing properties in the future to make sure that if a property were built on Sunset in the future there would be recourse for the City Council to act. 

“And so I think we got to work together and we got to get in front of these things,” Mayor Gard said. 

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