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Wyoming News

Zoning for high-density apartment complex rejected

By Carrie Haderlie Wyoming Tribune Eagle,


CHEYENNE — A final attempt to zone 10 acres in northeastern Cheyenne to allow for a high-density apartment complex failed Monday night.

During the regular Cheyenne City Council meeting, a motion to zone land at Ridge Road and Holland Court “City NR-3” failed for a final time.

“There is no way to bring this back at this point,” Mayor Patrick Collins said Tuesday. “All the parliamentary things that would bring (the zoning designation) back are exhausted, so it is dead.”

The NR-3 zoning designation was reconsidered by the council Monday, according to council member Richard Johnson, because of a motion to reconsider made by another councilor on Feb. 27. In February, Michelle Aldrich made a motion to zone the property MR, a lower-density zoning designation. That motion failed. Following the failed designation, she brought the original motion back, and it was ultimately postponed. That meant the NR-3 designation was discussed for a final time on Monday.

Gateway Construction had requested the zoning designation to allow for an apartment complex with exercise facilities, a swimming pool and up to 195 units on site, in an attempt to address Cheyenne’s need for affordable housing for young professionals. A zoning map amendment to establish zoning on any parcel within the city can be initiated in a variety of ways, according to Seth Lloyd, senior planner for the city.

“The most common is by the applicant or the owner of the land, but the city can initiate the zoning map amendment, as well. Our current anticipation is that the applicant would choose a zone and resubmit through the process again,” Lloyd said Tuesday.

Collins said city staff will continue to work with the developer, Jason Stephan of Gateway Construction, on future zoning discussions.

“I do think that we need to have a zone there. If there are zoning violations, we want to have the ability and authority to correct those,” Collins said. “That property is really pretty rough right now, and it would be nice to be in a position that, if there was a health and safety issue, to be able to help with that. At this point, we are sort of in no man’s land.”

As the parcel was annexed into the city in late February, city laws do apply.

“It is part of the city, so we have the ability to enforce city laws there. The one thing that would be (excluded) are our zoning rules,” Collins said.

The apartment complex plan was supported by the city’s Plan Cheyenne document, which “supports apartments in this location by encouraging the development of workforce housing,” according to Lloyd.

Planning and Development Department Director Charles Bloom said Tuesday that the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force final report presented to the council in the fall of 2022 included reducing “NIMBYism,” an acronym for resistance to development standing for “not in my backyard.”

Because the city received “multiple” petitions protesting the zone change, Lloyd said, the NR-3 designation required a supermajority, or eight affirmative votes, to pass.

Voting in the affirmative were councilors Scott Roybal, Jeff White, Bryan Cook, Tom Segrave, Richard Johnson, Ken Esquibel and Mayor Patrick Collins. Voting against the zoning designation were councilors Michelle Aldrich and Pete Laybourn. Councilor Mark Rinne was absent Monday and did not vote.

Much of the nearly two-hour discussion Monday night echoed discussions held at the Feb. 27 council meeting, with neighboring property owners expressing concern over the high-density apartments, increased traffic and potential drainage issues. Supporters talked about the need for high-density housing in Cheyenne.

“Why do we need multi-family residential, and why do we need increased density? Because this council told us we do. We have done study after study; 5,000 units we need in Cheyenne,” said Dale Steenbergen, president and CEO of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce. “Where are we going to put those? Where is the right place to put those?”

Laybourn said that he would vote no on the zone change because, in part, it is in the best interest of local residents to be concerned about development next to their own properties.

“I do want to emphasize that I have no question about the quality of the developer,” Laybourn said. “But what I am really concerned about is what I heard tonight in regard to ‘NIMBYs.’ It is right to be concerned about what happens across the backyard. It is right for you to consider the livability of your neighborhood when that traffic is increased to the degree it will be increased here. There is nothing wrong with people organizing and coming forward through this process in a respectful, careful manner.”

Collins, who voted in favor of the failed zoning designation, said that the “public process really worked.”

“We had a full house, standing room only, and that was gratifying. People came, and they spoke, they were on point and eloquent and respectful. It was a good conversation yesterday, so from the perspective of local government, it worked well,” Collins said.

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