Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

The News Editorial: BAPC gives public chance to be heard

On Monday, the Worland Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission will be conducting a public hearing on the special exemption request by Washakie County for a new ambulance station.

In anticipation of a large crowd, the meeting has been moved from its regular location at city hall in the council chambers to the Worland Community Center.

By city code a public hearing is not required for this type of special exemption but Board Chairman Scott Fritzler, seeing the number of people interested in the board’s decisions and listening to some of the concerns felt it was important to have the public hearing and give the public a chance to be notified and a chance to let their voice be heard.

This is not going to be an easy decision for the board. While the county has considered other options for an ambulance station, including constructing a brand new facility, the issue the board will be deciding on Monday is whether to grant a special exemption at the 603 North Road 11 location or not. This location and only this location is the focus of the public hearing.

Yes, they can ask questions about other options but ultimately, they need to decide if the county should be granted a special exemption for an ambulance station on Road 11.

The biggest concerns that have been mentioned in letters to the board and during the initial public meeting in May is traffic with a concern about children from Children’s Resource Center and from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

However, both the county and one opponent, Dick Kroger, admit that North Road 11 is already a high traffic area. Kroger in a letter to the board said he has spoken to the Worland Police Department about the traffic and about how many people speed on that road. He said in the letter that the WPD has worked to address the issue.

The county said they requested a traffic study from the Wyoming Department of Transportation and it showed 1,600 vehicles travel that road per day on average.

Another concern is property value, but in my discussions with two area appraisers that would be hard to quantify without some research and analysis.

Buffalo has an ambulance station in a residential area, according to the appraiser I spoke with and the Cody Regional Health ambulance station in Basin is in a residential neighborhood, between two residences.

I do not know if there are children in the area or not. I do know, having lived in the Basin, that the property was a residential dwelling at one time and a school/church.

Big Horn County Rural Health District No. 1 board member Deb Rathbun told me that Basin did not have any regulations so they did not need a hearing or special exemption. However, she said before the district purchased the property she did talk to most of the neighbors.

Here is where the county went wrong. They made a purchase agreement contingent upon receiving the special exemption; however, neighbors were not notified until reading about the purchase agreement here in the Northern Wyoming News.

Perhaps, the commissioners felt like having an ambulance station, which provides a much needed essential service to the community, would not be opposed.

Perhaps they felt that with an average of about three calls per day an ambulance station would not create an issue wherever it was located.

Perhaps since they were negotiating on a price they did not want details of what they were doing to leak out in case it impacted the price.

I cannot speak to their reasons and we cannot change what happened we can only move forward.

The BAPC is giving the public a chance to speak out regarding the ambulance station and its location.

It is your chance to be heard.

In Basin the Rural Health District Board reached out to its neighbors after the purchase with a neighborhood barbecue and made sure the people knew who to contact if there were issues. Something for the county to consider depending on the decision of the board on Monday.

Nothing is set in stone regarding the ambulance station. The county has made a conditional purchase agreement, the board has not made any decision, to which I can attest having listened to discussions during meetings and after meetings.

The board is giving the public an opportunity to voice their opinion, along with the county an opportunity to voice theirs.

If you go on Monday be respectful of others opinions and be respectful of the decision the board makes. Remember that these are volunteers serving Worland and working for the betterment of the Worland community. They deliberate, they ask tough questions and each decision they make they try to consider what is best for the community as a whole, as well as neighborhoods.

---Karla Pomeroy