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Commissioners Extend Temporary Moratorium On Aquifer Protection Zone

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Albany County Commissioners voted on Thursday, Jan. 2, to extend the temporary moratorium that prevents building on the Casper Aquifer Protection Overlay Zone (APOZ) by 90 days.

They're using this time to try to clarify how building regulations work in the APOZ. Unclear wording lead to the original moratorium that was put in place in April.

The APOZ is on the eastern side of Laramie and it covers the areas where the Casper Aquifer has 75 feet or less of hard rock protection above it.

"There's the Tumbleweed Gas Station up there. A new owner purchased that property. And so, they wanted to change out some old piping with some new piping, and it wasn't clear for a while whether they could do that on the grandfathering of the property or not," Albany County Planner David Gertsch said.

The Albany County Planning and Zoning Commission made changes to the regulations for building in the APOZ, and the changes are now in public comment period, which will be followed by a public hearing on Feb. 4.

The moratorium extension allows for a possible extra public comment period after the hearing.

Development isn't completely stopped during the moratorium, there's just an extra step for those wanting to build in the APOZ.

"Basically what the moratorium requires is that they come into our office, we review it, make sure it's being done appropriately, and then they can go forth," Gertsch said. "So, there's a whole list of exemptions on there that that allow people to continue to develop in the area, they just have to make sure that they come to the planning office and determine what if that use is an exemption or not."

The final changes to the regulations will apply to building in the entire APOZ.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Ivy Engel, at iengel@uwyo.edu.

Ivy started as a science news intern in the summer of 2019 and has been hooked on broadcast ever since. Her internship was supported by the Wyoming EPSCoR Summer Science Journalism Internship program. In the spring of 2020, she virtually graduated from the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in biology with minors in journalism and business. When she’s not writing for WPR, she enjoys baking, reading, playing with her dog, and caring for her many plants.
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