The Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission approved changing zoning designations of areas north and south of Casper at its meeting Tuesday.

No one during the public comments objected to the county development department's recommendation to put Antelope Hills under one zoning designation.

Staff from the development department, which does the field work for the commission, found inconsistencies in code enforcement in the unincorporated community about 15 miles north of Casper along Interstate 25, department director Jason Gutierrez said.

So the department held an open house with 25 residents who supported fully zoning the area as Rural Residential One.

However, the second proposed change met with some opposition.

The East Elkhorn Ranch LLC, recently bought a section — 640 acres or one square mile — and about 216 acres of school lands from the Office of State Lands and Investments for $1.65 million, according to Natrona County property records.

The section, about three miles southeast of Allendale, had been zoned Urban Agriculture (UA) until 2004 when it was rezoned as Mountain Residential One (MR-1), Gutierrez said.

The ranch wanted that land rezoned back to UA for its ranching operations that have included new reservoirs and other infrastructure at the base of Casper Mountain, he added.

The MR-1 designation is problematic because it only allows agricultural operations such as grazing as an accessory to being a resident, Gutierrez said.

But seven homeowners, most who live on Scenic Route south of Wyoming Boulevard and a mile west of the East Elkhorn Ranch property objected.

Bruce Russell didn't object to the agricultural use as much as he was concerned the UA designation could allow subdivisions and manufactured homes, which in turn could devalue neighboring property values, he said. "My issue is the type of development that can happen there."

Ranch representative David Fertig responded that the beauty of the base of Casper Mountain has come about in part because the ranch is developing reservoirs, which in turn water the meadows that also feed the cattle.

Fertig referred to a map of the area that showed homeowners would see little if anything of the rezoned property because of the terrain.

After the meeting, Russell said he would like to see the MR-1 designation changed to allow agriculture.

But Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Harold Wright said revisions in the zoning would need to come from the Natrona County Commission itself.

"The more paperwork you get involved with, the more trouble it becomes trying to take care of things," Wright said.

The Natrona County Commission will make the final decisions on the zoning changes at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 6.