RANCHESTER — Ranchester Town Council approved on first reading the annexation of lot 2 of the Spirit Ridge subdivision at its meeting Tuesday. The 37.5-acre property is located west of Ranchester adjacent to Tongue River Middle School and surrounding land for a proposed elementary school.
The approval of the annexation followed a public hearing in which the developer, Drew Redinger, who also developed Stonebrook Meadows east of town, presented preliminary plans for a subdivision likely to progress in three phases. He said the development will include single and multi-family units, such as duplexes. All in all, the development could include more than 100 lots.
“The school is pretty excited about this. They would really like to see it happen. They feel like it will keep kids coming to school here,” Redinger said.
Redinger hopes to begin building in June.
Lot 1 of Spirit Ridge was purchased by Sheridan County School District 1 and annexed in 2010, Town Engineer Chris Johnson said.
“Lot 2 has always been planned to be a city development. The rest of Spirit Ridge was developed as county lots, and they will most likely remain county lots for a long time,” Johnson said.
Town councilors discussed possible zoning in the annexation at length but did not come to a final determination. Zoning recommendations and other issues such as utilities and water rights for the area will be discussed at later readings for the annexation.
Town Councilor Dennis Dunn wanted to see a strip of the property that runs alongside U.S. Highway 14 be zoned as B-1 business in order to entice businesses with prime, highway frontage property that may be more appealing than already developed business property in town. He said doing so would fit with the long-term goals for Ranchester’s development.
Dunn held a “if you zone it, they will come” stance on making sure businesses know they have a place to grow. He also thought business growth could spur residential growth, and vice versa.
Redinger worried that zoning part of the property B-1 would hamper his ability to make a return on his investment. He said there is no demand for business property now, so the town should focus on expanding residential development, which will eventually spur the need for business.
Other councilors said they wanted to do what would help the developer first and that the land could be rezoned if business interest spiked later.
In other business:
• The council approved on third and final reading an ordinance relating to minors dining in bars. The ordinance will require children under 21 to be accompanied by and adult 21 or over when dining in bars. Children will not be allowed in bars after the hour of 10 p.m.
• Councilors approved purchasing a new pump for the sewer vac truck in the amount of $2,300 and a new pump for the sewer system for $2,300 to replace an old failing pump.
• Bills in the amount of $26,601.24 were approved.