Limited agriculture ordinances pass on final reading
April 27, 2023
At last week’s Thermopolis Town Council meeting, Town Treasurer/Clerk Tracey Van Heule presented Budget Resolution 573, which covered minor changes to the balancing sheet. The council voted and passed the approval of the budget resolution.
During citizen participation, Mayor Adam Estenson and the council members reviewed the Limited Urban Agriculture Ordinances in their three parts for its third and final reading. One is for an ordinance to allow agricultural animals in town, the second is for establishing animal nuisance violations, and the third is for stock running at large. The council voted on these separately, whereas in the previous meetings; they voted on them as a whole.
During discussion prior to voting, council member Bill Malloy wanted to require the approval of neighbors to be added to the ordinance for a proposed permit for ag animals in the town. Main chicken proponent Darren Butcher spoke and disagreed by defending personal property rights and that permission of neighbors should not be included. Mayor Estenson said he wanted “favorable interactions practiced” regarding neighbors and said that “a number of people that are uncomfortable with being put in that situation” if it came to others deciding if a property owner could have the animals.
Concerned citizen John Roden spoke in opposition, mentioning the issue of flies and odor becoming a nuisance and said there needs to be “strong guidelines” and regulations for the matter. Hot Springs County Commissioner Paul Galovich was present in the audience and said he is against the granting of permission by neighbors because it would create “animosity” and “attacks the individual” and that nuisance laws will address the issues.
Mayor Estenson said in response, “We have control over issuing the permit. We are giving ourselves and the ordinance the ability to issue or not. And we’re really pushing people towards the educational side of this. And that’s what I’ve really liked about this ordinance from the beginning, is it wasn’t heavy-handed because we are pushing towards the ultimate goal, which is that it’s more of a lifestyle for people who want to raise livestock on their property.”
Beth Keller, a nurse practitioner at Hot Springs Health, said, “I just moved here back in September. I raised chickens for roughly ten years when I lived in Laramie. Laramie is a very chicken-oriented town, I guess you could say. They allow up to 12 chickens. No roosters, of course. Every fall they would have the Tour de Coop where you would pick out three different houses in town and you would go and you would see their chicken coops, and I never noticed a smell.”
The mayor and council voted on each of the three-part ordinances. Council member Dusty Lewis was not present. In all three votes, Mayor Estenson, Council members Bill Malloy and Rachel Hughes voted in favor, whereas Council member John Dorman Senior voted against all three ordinances. Therefore, all three ordinances succeeded and will become part of the town code official in the April 27 public notice issue of the Thermopolis Independent Record.
Mayor Adam Estenson also said that in March 2024, they will revisit this subject and determine if the ordinances are a success or not.
Meri Ann Dorman, on behalf of Main Street Thermopolis, presented an idea for downtown beautification. Dorman proposed a mural project for the old fire hall which potentially could be contracted by Sage Brushes out of Lander. The total cost for the project is $25,300. Dorman asked the town for $5,150 as a portion of the possible contract. Main Street Thermopolis would provide a match as well for $5,150 and they would apply for a grant from Wyoming Main Street for the remainder of the total cost. The work would take two to three months to complete and would start this summer. The copyright of the image in the mural would belong to both Main Street Thermopolis and the Town of Thermopolis. The specific design would be decided within the next month and Sage Brushes would provide a proof-of-concept proposal for review. The council voted and passed the approval of the $5,150 contingent that Main Street Thermopolis approves their match when they meet next and the grant application to Wyoming Main Street is approved.