A Casper Clash of Values: Homeowners Object to New Developments
Casper City Council on Tuesday coped with a clash of values between developers who want to build homes -- and make money doing so -- and nearby residents who believe new subdivisions will devalue their own homes.
The council approved on first reading three ordinances that would change the zoning and plats for three proposed subdivisions in the south-central and eastern areas of the city, according to the meeting agenda.
The strongest opposition focused on the proposed 59-acre Greenway Park III Addition at the northeast corner of South Missouri Avenue and East 21st Street.
The owners of the property -- Preserve Casper, LLC, and Haystack Properties, LLC, - both based in Lonetree, Colo. -- have proposed 429 dwelling units on 54 lots with 368 of those already approved. Of the 54 dwelling units, 35 will be zoned R-2 [One Unit Residential] and 22 will be zoned R-3 [One to Four Unit Residential] for attached single family residential units, known as "twinhomes."
The development would include a 55-foot easement on its east side so as not to obstruct the westward views from the homes in the Rustic Ridge subdivision immediately to the east.
But several Rustic Ridge residents unsuccessfully tried to persuade the council to not change the zoning, if not stop the developments because of their potential effects on traffic, safety and their own property values.
Vicki Primrose said she and neighboring homeowners oppose Greenway Park because many of them live there because of that subdivision's elevation and an unobstructed view looking west.
"If we allow all of that construction to build up there, we're going to lose that, which means [their] house is going to be devalued so the other 69 homes in Rustic Ridge," she said.
Primrose asked if the language in the zone change could require the homes in the subdivision be limited to one story.
Heidi Wilhelm, vice president of the Rustic Ridge homeowners association, said her fellow residents in their half-million- to million-dollar homes will wind up looking at a solid row of roofs.
"The developer is looking purely for financial gain," Wilhelm said. "I think that's a very sad thing."
After the public hearing about Greenway Park, council member Bob Hopkins said he understood the concerns about Rustic Ridge residents' desires for the view, but said the development would fill in an empty area of the city.
Steve Cathey recounted where he built his house in 1990 and had a full view of Casper Mountain, but that's gone after subsequent development, he said.
That's progress, Cathey said. "If you want this city to grow, these things are going to happen."
When people are house-hunting, they need to look what they're buying and where, and take some responsibility for that, he said.
Khrystyn Lutz said the property owners have the right to build what they want within the limits of the zoning.
The same goes with the developer in a capitalist economy, Lutz said.
"To argue that the developer doesn't have the right to make a financial gain on his investment, but then to on the other hand [for Rustic Ridge residents] to argue that they'll lose investment on their home -- we're talking about the same thing," she said.
Another proposed zoning change also met with some resistance.
Realtor Lisa Burridge told the council she is representing the owners of the proposed 50-acre Kensington Heights No. 1 subdivision with about 150 lots from Wyoming Boulevard east to Boots Drive in the Centennial Hills subdivsion and from Country Club Road north to Centennial Village Drive.
The ordinance would vacate and replat the previous Cambridge Addition that was originally part of Centennial Hills. The subdivision was to be developed as a Planned Unit Development that focused on "smart growth" and traffic calming, the latter of which included narrow streets that have proven to be difficult to plow.
Burridge wants to change the PUD to R-2, which is more restrictive in what builders can do, she said.
The first portion of the subdivision would be 26 lots larger than those to the east with regular street widths, she said.
But Joe Toups of the Centennial Hills Homeowners Association said he wasn't opposed to development as much as he wanted to protect his 500 fellow homeowners that are downwind from blowing trash, airborne construction debris and dirt storms. "Anything that happens will have a huge impact on us."
Toups asked if the city has conducted traffic studies, if it will require the new houses to conform to the styles of those in Centennial Hills, and if it has conducted drainage studies because of the occasional flash-flooding on the streets.
"We just want to look forward to having a productive dialog with the city, the developers -- an outcome we could all live with," he said.
Council member Bob Hopkins said Toups brought up an important point about blowing debris, and the city staff conducts checks on construction sites.
The R-2 designation, Hopkins added, has more restrictive building standards than a PUD.
Unlike Greenway Park and Kensington Heights, the first ordinance for the 7.5-acre Garden Creek Square Addition No. 2 received little comment.
The Garden Creek Square Addition would be at the northwest corner of South Coffman Avenue and Southwest Wyoming Boulevard,
The ordinance vacates, replats and changes the zoning for a plat in 1999 that never materialized as a development.
The ordinance would change one of the lots in the Garden Creek Square Addition No. 2 to R-4 [High Density Residential] for a 49-unit, multifamily senior housing project. City staff is reviewing that proposal.
The other lot will remain zoned C-2 [General Business].
The land is owned by J.G.V., LLC.