Kickstart Kemmerer plan focuses on community appearance, land use, housing

Editor’s Note: This is the second of four articles in a series about Kickstart Kemmerer, the City of Kemmerer’s new comprehensive plan.

The City of Kemmerer recently adopted a 20-year comprehensive plan titled “Kickstart Kemmerer.” The vision statement of the plan is as follows:

“By 2038, Kemmerer will be an attractive community with a diversified economic base where people take pride in their homes, businesses and environment.”

Two of the categories of the plan — which was created by an advisory council with the cooperation of the city council and the zoning board — are Community Appearance and Land Use and Housing.

When the City Council adopted the plan, former city administrator Andrew Nelson said that Kickstart Kemmerer focuses on working with existing amenities and housing because of limited population growth and financial constraints. 

Community Appearance

In the comprehensive plan, the advisory committee agreed that physical attractiveness of the city (on both public and private property) would attract community development and new residents and increase pride in the community by current residents. The plan lists well-maintained streets, parks and yards, as well as inviting storefronts and housing as factors that contribute to a positive community appearance.

The plan offers several potential implementation strategies to help the city reach its goals in the Community Appearance category.

The City of Kemmerer is not obligated to complete any of the projects included in the comprehensive plan, but it provides guidelines for the council and zoning board to consider when making decisions. 

One implementation strategy for Community Appearance is to create welcoming gateways at the major entrances to Kemmerer. In the comprehensive plan, the advisory council suggests improving the signs and landscaping at entrances to the city and update signs that advertise the J.C. Penney mother store.

Another way the council and zoning board could work toward a better community appearance is through code enforcement for issues like tall grass, weeds and abandoned vehicles. The plan suggests updating the city code to allow for a code enforcement plan that has specific goals and is evaluated periodically.

Enhancing streetscape requirements is another strategy for improving how the city looks. The plan suggests requiring new developments to install and maintain sustainable landscaping.

Land Use and Housing

The comprehensive plan cites a 2015 American Community Survey statistic that nearly a quarter of the homes in Kemmerer are vacant, a reflection of the boom and bust cycle of Wyoming’s energy economy.

The plan states that many of the approximately 300 vacant homes in Kemmerer are older and “are on small lots with small homes that do not appeal to a modern clientele in terms of size, finishes, parking, storage or style.” 

Part of Kickstart Kemmerer is a future land use and transportation map that “proposes the future distribution and location of housing, business, industry, civic uses and parks.”

This map was developed with the zoning board. The map is meant to be flexible and allow for future rezoning and land use designations, depending on changes in the community’s goals and implementations.

Nelson said this map was a major product of the comprehensive plan that would help the city work toward its goals.

Major aspects of the map include a possible annexation of Frontier, a trail from the Antelope Ridge subdivision to the trail system on Canyon Road, and more development near Best Western.

The comprehensive plan states that the map can be used to redevelop the housing in lower Kemmerer (especially vacant housing) by identifying locations with narrow lots that can be combined with adjacent properties

“Kemmerer’s current city limits include roughly 7.94 square miles and include land use zones ranging from heavy industrial uses (such as property near the Naughton Power Plant) to higher density residential and mobile home parks,” the plan states.

The comprehensive plan offers several implementation strategies in the Land Use and Housing category.

One strategy is to create a review process for downtown Kemmerer grounded in historic preservation principles. Another is to promote redevelopment of underutilized commercial space in Kemmerer, such as the vacant and underused buildings in the stretch from Taco Time to Ridley’s, which would help the city explore commercial uses in a historic zone. 

Another land use implementation strategy would be for the city to develop a local process to identify and remove blighted buildings in Kemmerer, including money to fund the removal.

Read the Gazette next week for a story about the comprehensive plan’s focus on Economic development and Public infrastructure.