Casper City Council: Hold off gravel mine response for now | #citycouncil

CASPER, Wyo. — The controversy about a proposed gravel mine west of Casper touches on state and Natrona County roles, environmental concerns, quality of life, property values, and probable damage from heavy haul trucks on Coates and Squaw Creek roads.

The latter is largely a Natrona County issue because Coates Road is the same as Natrona County Road 503.

But roughly the first mile of Coates Road south from Wyoming Highway 220 was paved by the creation of a Local Assessment District with contributions from the County, the City and residents within the city limits of Coates Road, according to the Casper City Manager’s Office.

Tuesday, Coates Road resident Robert Strohman, who lives within the city limits, told the Casper City Council of his concerns about road damage from trucks hauling gravel, and referred to the LAD.

The road was paved on the cheap and it has served its purpose, but it won’t be able to handle haul trucks, Strohman said.

He asked for help from the Council for help to keep Coates Road as a residential and not heavy haul street.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like spending money for nothing,” Strohman said.

Mayor Steve Cathey told him that the Council is concerned because of the city’s contribution to the Coates Road paving. “We are looking at ways to address that situation.”

Vice Mayor Lisa Engebretsen asked whether the city could impose a weight limit and speed limit on Coates Road.

City Manager Carter Napier responded that the question deserves more research in terms what ordinances currently state about residential streets and heavy truck traffic, and his office could come back with more information.

The controversy started in mid-February when Coates Road and Squaw Creek residents learned of the proposed gravel mining by Prism Logistics, LLC — managed by Kyle True — which had obtained mining leases from the State Board of Land Commissioners.

That launched a grassroots movement with hundreds of area residents attending organizational meetings and Natrona County Commission meetings to voice their opposition about probable environmental and property damage. On March 18, Gordon vetoed Senate File 44, which would have given county commissioners more oversight of state lands. Meanwhile, organizers created the more formal Casper Mountain Preservation Alliance.

Thursday, the Board of Land Commissioners — comprised of the top five state elected officials — will conduct its monthly meeting at the Thyra Thomson State Office Building, 444 W. Collins Drive, at 9 a.m.

Towards the end of Tuesday’s Council meeting Councilor Kyle Gamroth gently put the brakes on an immediate City response.

He and other Councilors favored putting the Coates Road matter on the agenda for a work session possibly for a Council resolution, and Napier agreed.

A more appropriate time to research and respond could wait when and if Prism Logistics asks the Natrona County Commission for a Conditional Use Permit to mine in the area, Gamroth said.

City Attorney Eric Nelson said this is complicated.

Before Prism Logistics could move forward with a Limited Mining Operation it would need a Conditional Use Permit from the County, which would require a 60-day advance notification of the neighbors and then public comment. That request also would go to the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which would require a public notice and public comment.

Gamroth said the State Board of Land Commissioners could rescind the leases or Prism Logistics could drop its plans to seek a Conditional Use Permit from the County, which would render the whole controversy moot.

So any serious research could be premature if not pointless, he said.

“I don’t want City staff to go through a bunch of homework on a bunch of hypotheticals if it gets killed at some point,” Gamroth said.

Napier agreed with waiting, but if Prism files an application for a Conditional Use Permit, the Council will be obligated to weigh in on the gravel mining’s effects on the maintenance of Coates Road.

Cathey liked the idea of waiting until an application, because the City would then have a 60-day window to schedule a work session and then start research.

Until the City sees an application, Nelson said it doesn’t know what will be proposed.

“It would be hard for Council to take a position without knowing some of the finer points of what’s being sought,” he said.

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