The Casper Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a request by a company to develop six lots on 31.5 acres on the city's west side.

Gorgan, LLC, whose partners are Jesse Morgan -- former Casper City Council member from 2017-2019 -- and Scott Gorrie, asked the commission to rezone the land that the city acquired decades ago for a cemetery south of what is now the Wolf Creek subdivision.

The commission met by teleconference. Its recommendation will go to the Casper City Council in about a month for three readings with public hearings; and the council could approve it, deny it, or approve it with amendments.

The property is about 400 feet wide east to west at its north end and widens to about 900 feet at the south end. It's about 2,200 feet long from north to south on the east side with a deteriorated Moose Street on its west side. It is surrounded by undeveloped public and private land to the east, south and west.

The commission received comments from the public, with a couple of the letters saying the proposed development would enhance the neighborhood.

Several opponents said they moved to Wolf Creek with the expectation that the land would remain open and give easy access to public land for recreation, and that the new development would devalue their homes.

Aerial view of proposed Gorgon Hills. City of Casper, Google Earth
Aerial view of proposed Gorgon Hills. City of Casper, Google Earth

Some were concerned that the additional traffic may pose a hazard to the children of homeowners in Wolf Creek, and noise and dust from construction would be a problem.

Resident Cheryl Hackett, who spoke by phone during public comment period, cited those issues. She asked that if the commission recommended the zone change that it have another access to the property besides Moose Street.

Hackett also questioned whether Morgan acted ethically when he was on the council when the city put the property on the market, he didn't recuse himself from discussions about the property, he voted down earlier bids, and later approved the sale to former Casper businessman Tony Cercy in the summer of 2017. In May 2018, Morgan and Gorrie incorporated Gorgan, LLC, -- an amalgamation of their last names -- which later acquired the property from Cercy.

Casper City Attorney Wallace Trembath told the commission that the previous callers had the legal right to rebut others' comments, that Hackett's comments were of no concern to the commission because he legally owned the land, and that she should take her concerns to the city council.

Morgan responded to Hackett's accusations saying he did not know when he was on the council that he might have the opportunity to buy the land later.

Morgan and surveyor John Bryson said earlier they opposed the city's request that the development follow city code requiring cross streets every 750 feet because the land is hilly and east-west streets would be costly and useless.

But city planner Craig Collins said the streets would be necessary if the land east of the property was ever developed.

Morgan also said access to the public land other than on Moose Street would be closed because the property was now private. However, there are other access points to public land from Wolf Creek, he said.

The commission amended the original recommendation from the staff that drafted the resolution to rezone the land to require only one east-west street, as well as require a cul-de-sac at the south end of Moose Street.

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