The Laramie City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to hear comment on the proposed sale of public land to Mountain Cement Company, and some Council members say they would rather hold on to the property.

The City proposes to sell 722.6 acres of undeveloped land on Monolith Ranch for $400,000 -- $2,500 above its appraised value -- without calling for bids on the property. According to the City’s public notice, the sale is “for a use which the governing body determines will benefit the economic development of the municipality.”

But Councilor Vicki Henry, a member of that governing body, disagrees.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with the economic development of the municipality,” says Henry. “I think that the City should have more control. It is our land and I don’t think we should sell it.”

Henry says Mountain Cement already owns the property’s subsurface rights and informed the City it was looking for shale. Henry says she doesn’t want the area scarred by mining.

“I would rather see it developed a little bit at a time,” says Henry.

“I think that it would behoove the City to lease the land to them for their mining operation so that we can control the reclamation and the amount of the seven hundred twenty-two acres that is being mined all at once,” says Henry.

Councilor Joe Shumway says a lease would let the City retain the property for future recreation use or development while allowing Mountain Cement to extract the shale they are pursuing.

“If we outright sell it, that’s going to diminish our options,” says Shumway. “Right now, without hearing more from other council members and from the public comment, I don’t know that I’m ready to say that I’m definitely going one way or the other, but right now I favor a lease over a sale.”

The City originally purchased Monolith Ranch to obtain the water rights, and the acreage in question would not affect those water rights.

Henry says selling the land would be a short-sighted move by the City.

“Anytime you have a large block of property, it gives you more opportunities in the unforeseen future,” says Shumway. “If we were to take off something like five, eight percent of the total piece of the property, then that not only says that we’re willing to sell off for a short-term gain but it’s also telling other people that they can come in and negotiate to purchase other pieces of the property too.”

Mountain Cement Company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

More From Y95 Country