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Laramie passes affordable housing measure despite protests

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City of Laramie

Developers and homeowners in Laramie's single-family residential zones now have more options when it comes to what can and can't be built there.

The changes allow developers to build more on a given patch of land, and allow homeowners to maintain one rental – whether that’s a detached unit in the backyard, or a renovated garage. The ordinance also eliminates the garage requirement for single-family homes to allow more space for actual housing. All of the changes are designed to increase the availability and affordability of housing.

But several residents of the city's single-family zones voiced their protest – outside city hall, in letters to the editor, and in public comments before council.

"When I moved to the area where I live, I expected a certain kind of neighborhood that had large enough lots for my children to play, and in general, for the area to be the same carrying on into the future," said Mundy Aron, who also wrote a letter to the editor of theLaramie Boomerang.

But Laramie resident Patrick O’Toole spoke in favor of the ordinance during the council meeting Tuesday night. He said his generation faces skyrocketing housing prices and affordable housing measures like these are desperately needed.

"Most of my friends who are in or entering their 30s have essentially zero hope of buying a house in the foreseeable future," O’Toole said. "They can't do it. They can't dream of it. They can't think about it, and they have to shut that thought process down."

The city council passed the ordinance on a 6-3 vote.

The Council has been tackling the city's housing crisis for nearly a year. It has also approved health and safety standards for the rental units that make up half the city. And in January, councilors changed the city code to allow denser housing in multi-family zones.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.

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