Town moves on site for residential development

by nathan oster

The Greybull Town Council is moving ahead with plans to developing a housing subdivision on a 316-acre property east of town after a lengthy and at times contentious discussion Monday night ended in a 3-2 vote.

Mayor Myles Foley and Councilmen Scott Mattis and Clay Collingwood, who were on the prevailing side, prefer the site which the town already owns over one owned by the state and preferred by Councilman Marvin Hunt, who was joined in the dissent by Councilwoman Marquerite Van Dyke.

The town attempted for years, without success, to acquire the property that Hunt prefers from the state. It lies on the northeast corner of the 534-acre “Tin Can Alley” site, with frontage along U.S. Highway 14 and bordered on the backside by Road 28/Basin Garden Road.

Frustrated by those long-stalled negotations with the state, Foley, Mattis and Collingwood have pivoted to the 316 acres that lie directly behind the Tin Can Alley site. The town owns the property, which lies a couple miles up Road 28 from its intersection with U.S. Highway 14.

Hunt has independently visited with state officials in recent months and is steadfast in his belief that the town can still obtain the site he prefers, around the “frog pond” and town shop. The key is an easement, he said, and because it’s already been appraised, the site could be available for a swap by as early as April if one can be obtained.

While saying he understood Hunt’s concerns, Collingwood said, “If I was looking to buy a property, I’d pick the view (looking toward the Big Horns from the 316 acre property, aka, the Bluffs) every day.”

Hunt disagreed, saying “We can argue view from now until breakfast.”

Collingwood said, “At the end of the day, what people want most is a view.”

But Hunt countered once more, saying “If that was true, Emblem would be a booming metropolis because you can see every mountain in the Big Horn Basin from there.”

Foley said he sees more positives in the 316-acre site than in the state-owned location, citing the potential for trails and recreation. Collingwood and Foley also voiced doubt about the availability of the site that Hunt prefers.

“I’d like to start moving forward developing the 316 acres,” said Foley. “I don’t think they are going to come up with a solution (for the other location) very fast. We could still be sitting here two years from now, talking about (the site owned by the state).”

As part of the motion to proceed with the 316-acre site’s development, the council also voted to pursue an easement that would allow traffic to access it through the state-owned Tin Can Alley site. As it stands, the only access is off Road 28.

GDA Engineers, which has already performed a topographic survey of the 316 acres, will now be tasked with providing an estimate to the town of what it would cost to see the project through to completion.

GDA would also be asked to provide a layout for the general development. One developed by Paul Thur, the town’s administrator/finance director, envisions it looking like an E — with three roads coming off Road 28 and proceeding to the west and a long road connecting them running north and south. The residential development would go on the westernmost side of the property.

The town town’s initial thinking is that the site has the potential for 20 to 30 residential lots, each of them consisting of 2 to 3 acres. In terms of the general layout, Thur said the current vision is to have short cul-de-sacs coming off the main roads with only three lots on each cul-de-sac, which would keep people spread out and minimize the building on top of each other.

A number of other issues will also need to be worked out, including annexation of the property into town limits, easements from the BLM, the availability of water, power and natural gas, septic systems, the language of a reversionary clause which would come into play when the lots are put up for bid, and the sale process itself.

Thur said the town is expecting public input and hopes to have concept drawings available at its December meeting.