I supported wind towers on the former Texaco Refinery. For one thing, the property belongs to somebody and I believe people or companies should be able to use their property as they wish as long as it doesn’t adversely affect their neighbors. Wind towers on a former refinery site seem logical. And residents of the area no doubt knew their property was in the neighborhood of a former refinery property when they purchased it.
But Stan Mundy, whose property abuts the former refinery, claims the county violated their own setback requirements and steamrolled him in their haste to site the towers. Mundy has been vocal– very vocal—-about the setback.
Now he wants to ask the County Board of Equalization, which is composed of three county commissioners, for consideration to lower his property taxes. He says the proximity of the towers to his house impacts his property value.
Look at the photo on the front page of today’s Casper Journal. What is the first thing you honestly see? For me it is the wind towers. Then I see a tractor and a horse trailer. He talks about some dangers and noise with respect to the towers and told me, “Nobody is going to want to buy my place to live there.”
The commissioners set a date for property tax hearings. But Mundy could not make that date because his daughter was graduating from boot camp in South Carolina. The expense of hiring a court reporter for a second hearing was cited as one reason the hearing would not be rescheduled.
A recording of the Natrona County Commissioners in August discussing Mundy’s pending tax hearing reveals a nearly unanimous willingness to deny his request for apparently another reason. Mundy has clearly been a pain in the commissioner’s neck. (You can hear the recording at http://trib.com)
Commissioner Barb Peryam called Mundy “that son of a bitch” on the recording. This is only mildly shocking. We are all human. And as Commissioner Peryam points out when asked by the Casper Journal about her comments (Commissioner threatened critic, page 1 of today’s Journal), frustrations mount. So do pressures from a myriad of other things. Life is just like that. We all experience it. We all know it. While it might bother some, we probably all understand it.
But it is not an excuse for bad behavior.
The part of this story that bothers me is the threat to use code enforcement against a critic; and that nearly every commissioner laughed about it. I do not believe the commission as a whole would do that. And there are a number of angles to each commissioner’s perspective on this.
But listen to the tape for yourself. You will clearly hear the county employees responding to their bosses. They will, as they should, do what is asked of them by their employer(s).
Code enforcement is a very serious thing. It is necessary to keep me from impacting you negatively; and hopefully you from impacting me negatively. But code enforcement should be honorable. Even a whiff of its use as a tool of vengeance by anyone, elected or not, taints the process. It is inexcusable. It is no laughing matter.
I do not know if Mundy’s assertions are true. But it doesn’t matter either way. If there is any question about any aspect of the wind tower placement, including property tax adjustments, he should receive a fair hearing. It is the only way future placements of wind towers can be made without questions of abuse. Every property owner deserves that, even critics of the Natrona County Commission.
Like him or not and favor wind towers or not, Mundy, deserves a fair property tax hearing. The recording makes you wonder if he can get one.
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