RANCHESTER — Ranchester Town Council passed on second reading an ordinance to annex 37.5 acres adjacent to Tongue River Middle School into town limits.
The annexation is comprised of lot 2 of the Spirit Ridge subdivision, which developer Drew Redinger has proposed for single and multi-family units, such as duplexes. The development could include more than 100 lots. Redinger developed Stonebrook Meadows east of town.
Lot 1 of Spirit Ridge was purchased by Sheridan County School District 1 and annexed in 2010. The site is intended to be used for a new elementary school.
The Council held a similar discussion Tuesday as it did when it first considered the annexation Dec. 17.
Councilman Dennis Dunn wants to zone a 300-foot strip of the annexation located along U.S. Highway 14 as B-1 business and zone the rest of the land R-2 residential.
“There are a lot of signs that an economic boom is coming,” Dunn said. “I’m just saying let’s not be nearsighted on this.”
Dunn said he wants to make sure businesses have an area in which to develop if Ranchester grows.
Redinger said he’s not opposed to zoning a portion of the development for business use.
But rather that he’d like to do so after he knows what kind of interest there is in both residential and business development.
“As developers, we have to go by where the need is when we’re developing or we’ll find ourselves in too much money borrowed and not able to pay it back,” Redinger said.
Redinger noted that it would be wise to temper progressive thinking by looking at Ranchester’s past struggles with developing business.
The council approved the annexation with the intent to split zoning between B-1 business and R-2 residential. Mayor Allen Moore said zoning can be re-examined and adjusted later if needed.
The final reading for the annexation will be Jan. 21. Redinger hopes to have a preliminary plat ready for first reading at that meeting, as well.
In other business, the council discussed how to best handle needed repairs on the flour mill on Railway Street. It was decided that ideally the town and the railroad company should split the cost of the repairs.
Ranchester Town Council’s two members of the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board, Peter Clark and Randy Sundquist, said the board would meet tonight in a workshop to discuss hiring an engineer. The board, which is committed to bringing natural gas to Ranchester and Dayton, needs an engineer on hand to meet requirements for a grant application to the State Loans and Investments Board.
Council members approved bills for December in the amount of $23,842.78 for payroll and $37,978.61 for other expenses.