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Bill revives old land swap issue near city

Jan 25, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The parcel north of Riverton has been under discussion since 2006.

A bill that passed through the Wyoming Senate on Thursday could help put a piece of property north of Riverton to different use.

The parcel, which lies just north of Riverton near the Wyoming Modelers Park, has been the subject of discussions since 2006, when city leaders started working on a land swap involving the Department of Corrections and a private investor who was interested in the property as a commercial retail center.

The DOC pulled out of the deal in 2011 citing public concern over the land exchange process.

"There's been a lot of discussion about the land north of town by the Honor Farm," Wyoming Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said this week. "They haven't been able to really get going or get moving with the DOC. It's sort of frustrating to all of us."

Retail hopes

City leaders in recent years said a commercial retail complex on the property would bring more sales tax dollars to the city and help develop Riverton into a stronger presence in the regional market. Bebout agreed that the parcel, like many in Wyoming, could be put to better use.

"(The land) out there at the Honor Farm is being utilized for agriculture," Bebout said. "If there's a need to put that into some kind of commercial (use), let the free markets and that exist."

Senate File 90, which he sponsored this year, puts the Wyoming State Board of Land Commissioners in charge of the management and control of certain institutional lands. The SBLC, like the State Loan and Investment Board, includes Wyoming's governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and the state superintendent of public instruction.

"They'll try to put those lands to the highest and best use," Bebout said.

Do-pass recommendation

SF90 was received for introduction to the Senate on Jan. 9 and referred to the Agriculture, State and Public Lands & Water Resources Committee. The committee recommended passage on Jan. 18, and the bill was placed on general file that day.

SF90 was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Jan. 18, and on Jan. 21 that group also recommended it be passed.

The bill was placed on general file again on Jan. 21, and minor amendments were adopted Jan. 24, when SF90 was approved in the Senate. It will go on to the House of Representatives for consideration next.

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Legislature, Wyoming