Would a legitimate company treat neighbors this way?

Re: Ramaco project

Ramaco submitted an application to the Sheridan County Planning and Zoning Commission to have property north of Sheridan, next to the Tongue River rezoned from agricultural to industrial. Ramaco’s application included false personal attacks on my wife and I, the Sheridan Community Land Trust and several of our neighbors.

Ramaco claims we allowed spreading of “petroleum tank remediation waste” on our property in violation of our conservation easement with SCLT. They claim we received payment for allowing this activity. It took very creative editing of the project files to try to make this project look like ours. First, the project was entirely our neighbor’s. Second, the only material placed within our property boundaries was placed on a county road easement. Third, our only involvement was to insist that material placed within our boundaries be tested to make sure it was not hazardous. Fourth, we did not receive any payment, and fifth, they created a map with arbitrary boundaries that purports to show the material was spread over more than half a square mile of our property while failing to show property boundaries or the location of the disposal pit for hazardous materials on our neighbor’s property. What is the relevance of this false representation on their rezoning application for an industrial plant?

Ramaco’s second attack is more irrelevant. Ramaco claims our conservation easement is invalid because they have a superior reserved surface use right to our property. What relevance this assertion has to their rezoning application is unknown and it contradicts their own engineering consultant’s professional opinion as requested by us prior to establishment of the easement. It appears it was included solely to attack us and the SCLT. Ramaco’s claimed superior surface right is limited to access to “mine, extract or remove said coal or minerals.” If they had done their homework before purchasing the mineral rights to our property, they would know that all of the high-quality coal was removed long ago and the subsidence and water flooding in the old mine precludes any other mining. They have no surface use right to our property.

In addition, Ramaco claims its neighbors are using their properties for industrial uses, which should enable them to use their land for industrial purposes. In our case, they provided photographs obtained from the county assessor showing a greenhouse, a grain bin and a machine shed and claim these structures are industrial in purpose. All of the farmers and ranchers in the county will be interested to learn that typical outbuildings found on agricultural property are industrial uses that somehow justify placing a chemical plant next to them.

I’ve been a registered professional engineer in Wyoming for 34 years. I’ve done consulting work for most of the major coal mines in the state and various industrial facilities. This is the only company I’ve ever dealt with that is so unprofessional as to include false and irrelevant attacks on the neighbors in a regulatory document. Unfortunately, this is the way Ramaco has treated neighbors ever since it came to Sheridan County.

We’re not against mining. In fact, I understand that Ramaco is in the process of revising their mine plan to do exactly what I recommended they do to get a mining permit in my testimony before the Environmental Quality Council. We’re also not against a carbon fiber plant in Sheridan County. However, it should be located in the industrial park where the required infrastructure is in place and not on the banks of the Tongue River where any accidents would have major consequences for many people for many years.

 John and Vanessa Buyok



‘Breathtaking’ debt

Re: Weatherby, Vacutech

The Weatherby company currently operates out of a 35,000-square-foot rental in Paso Robles (California) with 65 employees. By moving to Sheridan, the company will triple its square footage and to fill the space will triple employment.

Weatherby products, guns and bullets, sold to a buyer outside of Sheridan County, these sales will not realize sales tax collection on the local level. Sales tax is collected at the point of delivery.

Vacutech sells its product outside of Sheridan County. Mr. Tom Johnson, the performance officer for the Wyoming Business Council, told me that the question of sales tax revenue was irrelevant. He said, “What do you want, a town full of shoe stores?”

The Weatherby company will not pay rent for the first four years of the lease on the new building. The company has a 60-year history. I would ask, how much has Weatherby experienced market expansion over the last 30 years? How many guns do they sell, not how much space can they fill. Sheridan will have a debt of $15 million for the Weatherby and Vacutech buildings. This money is a loan. That is $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the city. It is breathtaking when a small town takes on a $15 million debt for economic development. If we did not build it, would Weatherby have come? Why did Cody and Laramie step back from Weatherby?

Vicki Taylor