An oilfield transportation company that wants to expand its business is asking Natrona County’s leaders to rezone 20 acres of property from residential to light industrial — and some Mills residents who would be affected by the change are upset.
“Health and safety are the big concerns,” said John Bates, a Mills resident who organized a community meeting at the Mills Community Hall on Thursday night.
Bates, who resides in the Mountain View neighborhood, said about 50 residents attended the event. Some plan to speak about USA Trucking’s request before the Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission at its Tuesday meeting.
USA Trucking is an oilfield transportation company that specializes in the hauling of drilling mud and all other oilfield and industrial needs, according to its Facebook page. A representative for the company could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
The Planning and Zoning Commission already recommended approving the request earlier this year and sent it along to the Natrona County Commission for consideration. But the Natrona County Commissioners sent it back for further discussion.
“We sent it back to (planning and zoning) because we want the Town of Mills and USA Trucking to talk it over,” said Rob Hendry, the chairman for the Natrona County Commission.
Hendry said the Natrona County Commission is slated to review the matter in April. Though some residents are upset, the chairman said business expansion can be beneficial for the county.
“If (the owner) expands his business that means more trucks, more people and selling more products,” he said. “That means more investment in Natrona County.”
But Hendry said the commissioners will be considering both sides next month.
Mills Mayor Seth Coleman said he attended Thursday’s event to listen to residents’ concerns. But while the rezoning request would involve land that’s adjacent to Mills, he said it is not within the town’s limits.
“As far as direct control over it, we (the Town Council) have none,” he said. “... I was there to support them and to get a better understanding and have more conversations with the affected residents.”
Coleman said the requested zone change would be by the western side of Mills, near the Oregon Trail and Eighth Avenue.
In addition to safety concerns, Bates said residents who live near the potential zone change are worried that noise levels will increase and that the value of their homes will drop. He said several residents already shared these views with the Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this year.
“It’s seems like they’ve decided they’re going to make the zone change and to heck with the people,” Bates said.
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission could not be reached for comment Friday.