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Council tables zone review again; rate request draws fire

Mar 23, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

A group of Riverton residents is frustrated by the second postponement of a rezoning ordinance of the Fuechsel property near the Spencer subdivision in north Riverton.

Riverton City Council members first postponed the discussion at the meeting March 6 because the potential buyers were not ready to present their proposal to the council. The petitioner, Jeffrey Fuechsel, said he would like to develop the area into a welding business, but he was again unable to present his case at the meeting Tuesday.

Ray Apodaca owns land west of where Fuechsel wants to develop, and he has been talking to the city since the fall about developing the plot of land near his property.

"I am just a little frustrated because I thought this whole issue was going to be discussed a few weeks ago," Apodaca said. "I canceled the opportunity to go out of town with my family to show up to the meeting, and when I arrived, they told me the discussion was going to be postponed. I just want to make sure this isn't an ongoing thing, because it has already affected me."

Mayor Ron Warpness said the council shared Apodaca's frustrations and suggested a timeline be placed on the issue to prevent future postponements.

Adjacency concerns

Property owners near the debated area said they have concerns with an industrial business being located there. City staff received a petition from 10 adjoining property owners protesting the proposed zone change.

One more chance

Babs Kruse approached the council and asked the members if they could pull the discussion from the agenda.

"I have gone around to a lot of people who are really concerned about this potential development, and when I heard that the discussion was being postponed, I had to go back around to everyone and tell them it had been pulled from the agenda," Kruse said. "I would really appreciate if something could be done to finalize this."

Mike McDonald asked the council if anyone knew why the issue had been postponed for a second time.

Public services director Bill Urbigkit said city staff was under the impression everything was going to be discussed Tuesday but heard the developers wanted to explore the possibilities of access issues.

Councilman Eric Heiser said if the Fuechsel developers are not ready for the next council meeting then there will be no further discussion.

"If they aren't ready next time, then that is it. We will move on," Heiser said.

Electric rates

The council also discussed Rocky Mountain Power's decision to increase Riverton's electricity rates 10.36 percent. The rate increase came after Rocky Mountain Power reported reduced revenues because of lower energy use by city residents.

Van Parkhurst, a resident who lives in the Reach Foundation development, said many living in the area are on a fixed income, and at the time the homes were constructed, they were told that because they were using electricity exclusively, they would receive a lower rate on their power bill.

He said many residents have had bills close to $500, even in this mild winter. The increase proposed for residential properties was 8.81 percent. An 8.81 percent on a $500 bill would be $44.05 a month.

Heiser said that it gets "a little nauseating" for a company to ask for a raise, get the raise, and then come back and ask for the same raise once again.

"I would like to look into what other municipalities are doing, because at some point this gets a little ridiculous," Heiser said.

The council unanimously voted not to allow the increase on electric rates at this time until the national, state and local economies recover.