Unmaintained Vacant City Properties to be Scrutinized

Rock Springs City Hall (Ann Jantz photo)

By Ann Jantz, wyo4news.com

Rock Springs, Wyoming — The City of Rock Springs will scrutinize how it takes care of its vacant city properties after a city resident offered to buy and maintain a city-owned piece of land in his neighborhood.

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Tom James came before the City Council Tuesday evening and asked if he could buy the vacant lot on Blue Sky Way. He said before the lot became city property in April, it was historically used by neighborhood residents to park their trailers; it has since become filled with weeds and trash. James said if he is allowed to offer a bid on the property, he would grade and gravel it and maintain it so that the people in his neighborhood could have a place to park their recreational vehicles.

People in that neighborhood now must park their RVs in their driveways or along the curb, blocking views, he added.

James would require the RVs to be tagged and in good condition. He said 11-12 trailers would be parked in the 200 x 60 foot area.

“That’s more than enough room,” he added.

Mayor Tim Kaumo told James the city could not simply allow him to offer a bid. Instead, the land would have to be appraised and put up for bid. Kaumo also thought zoning could be an issue and would require an ordinance change

However, Kaumo noted the city not maintaining its vacant properties and allowing them to become trash collectors and filled with weeds is “a problem.”

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“This has been an ongoing issue for years that we need to resolve,” he said.

Councilman Keaton West opposed the idea of putting the property up for bid. He said it could potentially create more complex problems for the city.

James said if the city is not in favor of selling the property, then they should clean it up.

Council members debated different ways to approach the problem. Councilman David Halter suggested offering James a no-cost lease to be the caretaker of the property. It was noted, however, that the city would then be responsible for the upgrades to the property.

Director of Engineering and Operations Paul Kauchich said the land in question is not its own parcel but was, instead, included in the plat and would need its own legal description.

Kaumo thought the land was included in the planned unit development (PUD) of that area, which would make it easier for James to get the area cleaned up, graded and graveled — and would take the care of the property off the shoulders of the city.

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“I think it serves two purposes,” he said.

Before a decision can be made, the issue will be researched by Kauchich and City Attorney Richard Beckwith.

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