Property owners voice opposition to proposed annexation into Casper - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Property owners voice opposition to proposed annexation into Casper

(City of Casper)

CASPER, Wyo. — 15 “semi-rural, single family residential properties” on the west side of South Poplar Street may be annexed into the City of Casper.

The city council approved on first reading the proposed ordinance to annex the properties on Tuesday, Dec. 3. They’ll need to do so on two further readings for the annexation to be officially enacted.

Councilman Ken Bates voted no. Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson and Councilman Mike Huber were not in attendance.

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Several property owners in the area voiced opposition to the proposal.

“I stand in opposition to the annexation,” Tracy Tract said. “I like the ability to live as a county resident without the restrictions of the city.”

George Benson asked whether his tax rates would increase.

“As I understand it, our property taxes would go up, is that not true?” he asked.

Casper Mayor Charlie Powell said that there would be a slight increase to his property taxes but that this would be offset by paying lower rates for water services once annexed into the city.

City Attorney John Henley said that outside water use agreements with the property owners in question was the basis for the initiation of the annexation. Such agreements stipulated that if the city chose to annex, the property owners would not formally object.

Councilman Steve Freel asked whether all of the properties involved had such agreements in place.

City Manager Carter Napier said that was the case, though it wasn’t necessarily the current owners who had entered into such agreements.

Benson asked whether he could be provided with such agreements for review.

“All you had to do was ask and we’ll get them to you,” Powell said.

Councilman Ken Bates said he had previously requested that the property owners be shown such agreements.

“If they don’t want to be annexed, personally, I don’t think they should be annexed,” Bates added.

Benson said that if the annexation moves forward, he agrees with the proposal to zone it as AG (Urban Agriculture).

Two other property owners also expressed opposition to the proposed annexation, voicing similar concerns.

“How many people have you heard from in favor?” Wendy Norton said.

Powell responded by saying, “It hasn’t been a hot topic.”

The city expects to generate about $18,112 in sales tax and $8,000 in property tax revenue per year if the 13 properties become a part of Casper.

The city has also been conducting various other annexations in the area in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 United States Census, in order to boost the city’s population and their share in money distributed based upon population.

All of the properties already have access to the city’s water service. Some are connected to Casper’s sewer service, but the city says most are using septic systems.

Freel asked whether he was correct in understanding that the Casper-Natrona County Health Department had the power to determine whether the properties relying on septic systems would have to tie in to the sewer system should they be annexed.

“No, I don’t think so,” Napier said, adding that this “was certainly not a condition of annexation.”

Councilman Steve Cathey said that he thought the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality could potentially require property owners to tie-in to the sewer system if their septic systems were linked to pollutants in, for example, Garden Creek.

Napier pointed out that that was a separate issue from the health department’s potential regulatory power over the properties in question.

Cathey pointed out that his yes-vote was partially because it was the first reading for the potential annexation and acknowledged that he was aware that concerns needed to be looked at further.

“All properties involved in the annexation have frontage on a public right-of-way,” Community Development Director Liz Becher writes in a memo. “The properties are all contiguous with the city limits.”

The city council had previously approved the initiation of the annexation and a required report prepared by city staff is included in the council’s work packet.

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If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:

Mayor Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601

If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.