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The small but vocal band of citizens protesting an ordinance change that would allow grocery stores and other small businesses in some Casper neighborhoods will hold a public meeting tonight.

The change, which would make it possible for personal service shops, small businesses or grocery stores to establish themselves in residential neighborhoods, was delayed by the Casper City Council so opponents could organize the informational meeting.

“I’m just concerned that we respect our Constitution and the unalienable rights of our property owners,” said Linda Bergeron, an unsuccessful political candidate who has spearheaded the opposition and organized the meeting.

According to Bergeron and a handful of others, the ordinance change is described in language similar to a United Nations resolution known as Agenda 21, which the opponents say would attempt to control growth and resources.

They also implicate the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other government departments in a scheme to take away property rights through regulations.

In previous meetings, council members and city staff have said that the change would increase property rights by giving residents more allowed uses for their plot of land. They’ve also said that this type of development — now often referred to as mixed-used development or smart growth — existed for decades before planned subdivisions and the post-World War II highway culture that separated businesses and houses. The Grant Street Grocery is usually cited as an example of what mixed-use development would embody on city blocks.

Bergeron said she will drop her opposition to the change if language describing the ordinance as “smart growth” is dropped from the provision.

That language is only used to describe the reasons for an ordinance or change and does not go into the city’s code book, city staff have said.

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Reach reporter Joe O’Sullivan at 307-266-0639 or joe.osullivan@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/osullivan. Follow him on Twitter: @caspercityjoe.

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