Today the Sheridan County Commission voted 3 – 2 to approve Ramaco Wyoming Coal Company’s application to rezone 114 acres in the Tongue River Valley from agricultural to light industrial. Powder River Basin Resource Council (Resource Council) had lodged comments opposing the rezoning, as had a number of Resource Council members.

Testimony stretched out for three hours with parties on both sides delivering comments to the commissioners. A number of Resource Council members delivered comments in opposition to the rezoning:

“Our family has been in this area 108 years…This area is totally unsuited to industrial zoning…It’s a classic example of an alluvial valley floor…The land proposed for the development has a high water table and hydraulically connected to the Tongue River and the Kleenburn Ponds. Any industrial spills or contaminated runoff will end up in the river or the recreation area in short order. Only about one percent of the land in the Tongue River Basin in Wyoming is irrigated or sub-irrigated…approving this rezone will take between five and 10 percent of the agriculturally productive sub-irrigated land in the Tongue River Basin out of production,” commented John Buyok who ranches near the development site..

“We chose to live out there because it’s quiet…it’s sad to even think about a rezone. {The rezone} will create increased traffic, dust, and noise…Who wants to sit on their front porch and see a manufacturing facility?…The roads out there aren’t in good shape. Who is going to upkeep them?…Plus there is a lack of infrastructure; they should go to the Hi-Tech Park instead, where it {the project} belongs,” commented Bonnie Aksamit, whose home sits next door to the proposed industrial park.

“Today’s decision was disappointing, and we are still concerned about the location. We still don’t believe this particular place is appropriate for what they want to do,” said Jill Morrison, Executive Director of the Resource Council. “We feel that this was an arbitrary decision not in keeping with the commission’s prior rezoning decisions which has resulted in spot zoning.”

“Ramaco has made a lot of promises, and we hope they follow through with them. After listening to their presentations, they talked a good game, but as neighboring landowners, we’re still skeptical,” said Joan Tellez, a Resource Council member who lives near the site. “This rezone is permanent, and now Ramaco can do whatever they want out there. They have no conditions, and that makes us nervous about the future.”


The Powder River Basin Resource Council, founded in 1973, is a family agriculture and conservation organization in Wyoming. Resource Council members are family farmers and ranchers and concerned citizens who are committed to conservation of our unique land, mineral, water, and clean air resources.