SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council voted three times to solidify decisions regarding the open space ordinance for the city of Sheridan.

The council approved the ordinance on third reading and voted on two amendments to the ordinance. Part A of the amendment reduced the required open space for Residential 3 zoning from 17% to 10%, and part B requires additional open space if the city deems insufficient space to accommodate snow removal storage.

Councilors approved Amendment A with a 4-2 vote, denied Amendment B with a vote of 5-1 and approved the ordinance 5-1, with Councilor Kristen Jennings as the only opposing vote.

Current open space regulations require developers to design 8% of open space in areas zoned Residential 1, 10% in Residential 2 zoning areas, 17% in Residential 3 and 10% in Residential 4.

R1 zoning includes a single-family dwelling; R2 includes a two-family dwelling or multiple-family dwelling for not more than four families when housed in a single detaching building; R3 includes multiple-family dwellings or apartment court; and R4 includes mobile and manufactured home parks.

The votes reflected opinions expressed during a study session Dec. 12 and a regular meeting Dec. 19 about the matter.

“The reasoning behind this, as we can see from the examples that Wade (Sanner) gave us earlier on with several of these R3 developments is that most of them end up with green space or open space that’s far greater than a 10 or 15%,” Councilor Aaron Linden said. “What we tend to see is the layout of these opens up for more than 15% (open space). But I think having that ability to be at 10 (percent), we know they go a lot higher than that or taking it to 15% in the case of snow removal, it just makes sense and puts everyone back on an even playing field regardless of what they’re developing.”

Councilor Steve Brantz voted no, noting the lessening of open space requirements goes against the way of life Sheridanites appreciate.

“I just can’t see living in a community where we pile people on top of each other,” Brantz said. “That’s part of the way of life we have here in Sheridan, Wyoming. You can argue the fact this is going to open up some more housing, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Linden refuted Brantz’s comments, noting the lack of open space is an exception to the rule.

Councilor Clint Beaver said he wishes it was 0% required open space, as he said he believes it’s a bad policy for open space regulations and said after completing research that this ordinance was “copied and pasted” from the American Society of Planning Officials from January 1953, with the idea of open spaces starting in the 1940s meant to “correct the deficiency of park and school areas and densely built-up cities.”

“Sheridan is not a densely built-up city,” Beaver said. “Regulations like this get copied and pasted by consultants all over the country…and you inherit regulations that may have been generated in Chicago or New York City or whatever, but it certainly wasn’t originated in Wyoming where densely populated cities are not an issue.”

Some councilors and Mayor Rich Bridger agreed Amendment B was government overreach.

“I really don’t care for the micromanagement this introduces where staff is asked to do additional analysis beyond our historical review of subdivisions,” Beaver said. “It’s also going to pose additional cost on the proponent of subdivisions to add a whole other factor to design. You’ve already got issues with drainage and utility locations. I can’t even imagine everything that has to go in planning a good subdivision, but to add something additional here, I think is real overreach.”

Open space requirements for R2-R3 zoning will now be reduced to 10% from the original 17% for R3 and snow removal language will not be included.

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