SHERIDAN — Members of Sheridan City Council unanimously approved on first reading an ordinance that would rezone two parcels of land on Illinois Street from R-2 Residential to B-1 Business at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
The two properties, located at 705 and 717 Illinois St. south of Coffeen Avenue, were purchased by First Federal Savings Bank in December 2012.
The bank submitted a rezone request in order to use the properties for additional parking and office space for support staff, First Federal Savings Bank Executive Vice President Kevin Bailey said.
The rezone was passed by the Council on the condition that the bank execute a development agreement with nearby residents before third reading of the ordinance.
The need for an agreement was proposed after nearby residents expressed concerns about the rezone at the July 8 city Planning Commission meeting.
Residents wanted to make sure the bank did what it said it was going to do once the land was rezoned to B-1, a broad zone that allows many uses, Bailey said in his presentation to the Council.
Bailey and the bank’s developers have been meeting with residents to draft an agreement to ensure that any development will match the look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood and mitigate concerns about traffic and lighting.
The office building will be single story and architecturally similar to surrounding houses, and the parking lot will incorporate hedges, green space and low impact lighting.
Following the Planning Commission meeting July 8, de facto neighborhood representative Ernie Scott gathered 24 signatures from nearby residents on a petition to City Council to reject the rezone request. The petition stipulated that the ordinance be approved by a three-fourths vote (6 votes) from the council.
In the meantime, residents and bank officials decided to draft a development agreement to protect the interests of concerned residents.
“I’m happy with where things are headed,” Scott said.
Councilman Levi Dominguez questioned how much legal authority the development agreement would hold if the property was sold in the future, and Mayor Dave Kinskey assured that the city would have its attorney, Gregory Von Krosigk, look into the matter.
“There was some opposition from the neighborhood, which, duly, rightfully so,” Dominguez said. “At this point, it’s initial hesitation was that we were encroaching, we were inching our way into a residential area, although it was a little finicky with B-1 on one side and R-2 running down on the other side.
“I think it’s moving in the right direction, so as we get that development agreement and make sure that the neighbors are protected and the bank is also protected, it is a win-win situation.”
In other business:
• The Council approved on second reading amending Ordinance 2137 to allow limited signage on non-residential buildings in R-3 zoning districts and to change the setback requirements to increase flexibility in sign placement.
Non-residential buildings in R-3 zoning are currently limited to a 1-foot by 1-foot sign, which had proved problematic for city staff and business owners, according to a staff memo from Planning and Development Director Robert Briggs.
• Councilor Shelleen Smith provided an update for the Council on her time at the Northeast Wyoming Municipal Leadership Group meeting in Gillette Saturday. NEWY is comprised of leaders from 15 municipalities in northeast Wyoming.
The meeting focused on an upcoming NEWY Energy and Tourism tour for legislative staffers from Washington, D.C., Aug. 4-8. The staffers will learn about resource development in Wyoming and how it relates to communities and tourism, another key portion of Wyoming’s economy, Smith said.
“We plan on showing them that it doesn’t make a huge impact on our environment in Wyoming,” Smith said. “We still have one of the most beautiful states, and we enjoy great numbers of tourists here every year, and that’s an important part of our economy also. We find that we can pair both of those things very well here in Wyoming, and we want to share that message, and we want them to know how important energy development is to Wyoming.”
The Energy and Tourism tour will be funded by NEWY and the State of Wyoming.