Council holds public hearing for plat and zoning changes

Cynthia Sheeley/Torrington Telegram Dennis Estes presenting the preliminary plat and zoning change. James Eddington also photographed.

TORRINGTON – The Torrington City Council convened for its second November meeting on Nov. 15 at the Torrington Council Chambers.  Mayor Randy Adams was present with council members Ted Kinney, Richard Patterson, Dennis Kelly, and Kate Steinbock.

Two public hearings were held at this meeting for the approval of a preliminary plat and a zoning change.

Dennis Estes, the buildings and grounds superintendent, presented the Volunteers of America’s request for the preliminary plat for Lot A of the Southwest Wyoming Mental Health Center.

“Thank you, Mayor and Council, Volunteers of America is the new owner of Peak Wellness,” Estes explained. “What they’re asking us to do is vacate the current plat and replat it into three lots.”

The first lot would be the Peak Wellness building, the second would be the apartment buildings off of Albany, and the third would be an empty lot.

“The issue with this preliminary plat is that we have some issues with easements in here,” Estes continued. “Currently, there’s an easement all the way around for utilities, which is good for everybody, but (at the alley) it gets convoluted a little bit.”

Estes explained that the easement for this alley is only to be used for utilities. It is not a public right of way, nor can the garbage truck driver utilize it. At this time, the garbage truck driver has to back up in the street and then turn around.

“We’ve asked the owners (of the plat with the easement) if they would like to dedicate this to the public,” Estes said. “We’re going to work out a new easement here.”

The Planning Commission has approved these changes. With the approval of the council, they will go back to Benchmark, the land engineers on this project, and finalize the new plat.

Estes also presented the G.G. Ella Holdings, LLC request for a zone change from R-3 Residential to C-1 Commercial on lots 9 and 10, block 5. This location is the old Wagner’s Floral building and its parking lot.

“The Wagner’s Floral building has been Wagner’s Floral since I believe, the early 40s and 50s,” Estes said. “Wagner’s Floral has been a floral shop forever. It was never sewn into the residential and continued like that until 1971 when the city resolved everything in town. So, in our ordinance, it is considered a legal, non-conforming use.”

Estes explained that the shop could operate under this use as long as its use didn’t change, nor the footprint of the building. Since the building was never legally zoned as commercial, the new owners, who want to do something different with the building, have to rezone it.

“A lot of the residents around there had called me prior to this, concerned that their taxes were going to change,” Estes said. “The county assessor assured me that (this building) is still going to be charged commercial tax, (like before). Their taxes will not change unless something drastically changes in the area.”

The Planning Commission approved this change. With the approval of the council, the zoning will continue to its three ordinance readings before taking effect. The first reading took place at this meeting, the last reading will be at the meeting on Dec. 20.

The council allowed the public to comment in favor or against both of these changes. No one in the audience took a stand for either side. The council unanimously approved both the preliminary plat and the zoning change.

Jeff Harkins, the director of public works, presented the changes to the sanitation collection fees and its first ordinance reading.

This year there was a three percent inflation increase in prices. Moving forward, this inflation factor will be added every year on Jan. 1. The city has also simplified its pricing plan for the baler and landfill tipping.

The council unanimously approved these fees and its first reading. This ordinance will be read a total of three times. The last reading will be at the meeting on Dec. 20.

Buck Klemola was present at the meeting to challenge the need for the new stop sign and the 15-mph speed limit on Albany Avenue. As a resident who lives on Sheridan Street, just off Albany Avenue, Klemola argued that there was no need for the new stop sign and that the speed limit should be changed back to 25 mph. He also brought up a couple of other issues involving the ball fields off of this road and winter weather conditions.

The council listened to his argument and then explained that these changes were made for safety concerns and excessive dust in the air from the dirt road. The council did not vote on this issue, decisions will be made at a future meeting.

At the meeting, the council approved a special event permit for Leann Mattis and Moriah Harkins with the Goshen County Economic Development to hold the 2022 Christmas Parade on Dec. 2.

The council introduced a new proclamation for November. This proclamation is for Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26.

“The government of the City of Torrington, WY celebrates our local small businesses and the contributions they make to our local economy and community,” City Attorney, James Eddington said. “The City of Torrington, WY supports our local businesses that create jobs, boost our local economy, and preserve our communities.”

The council unanimously approved the proclamation.

Harkins explained the results of the wage study that the Wage Committee did recently. The Wage Committee came up with recommendations for all the various positions needed. The change, effective in the first part of December, will amount to $50,534.

The council unanimously accepted the wage study results.

David Dent, the city’s golf pro, was present to discuss the upcoming changes to the 2023 golf season. The council unanimously approved the annual fees and schedule for the golf course for 2023.

During the mayoral informational part of the meeting, Adams gave updates on the amount of COVID-related illnesses in the county.

“As of Monday, Nov. 14, there are seven new COVID exposures that have officially been reported,” Adams said. “There is currently one person being treated at Community Hospital for a COVID-related illness and one influenza patient as well. Our community risk level has been reduced from high to medium.”

Adams announced the last vaccination clinic was held on Nov. 15 in the Pony Express room. For more information or to make an appointment for the next clinic call Public Health.

Before the last meeting, the city was approved for $3.5 million to fund its waste-water treatment plant. However, it remains to be seen when they’ll get access to those funds.

Also, the Mayor announced recognition at the Goshen County Economic Development’s Annual meeting which took place on Nov. 17. Along with many other nominations, Chief of Police Matt Johnson was nominated for the Community Leader Award and Electrical Department Employee Michael Schuler for the Community Volunteer of the Year Award.

The next meeting of the Torrington City Council will take place Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Torrington City Council Chambers at 436 East 22nd Avenue.

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