Are subdivision changes in the future for planning and zoning?
A proposed ordinance change for building requirements in the unincorporated areas of Emery County is stirring thoughts and comments. This proposal has come about due to a number of requests from citizens wishing to build in those areas but the 10 acre law is prohibiting them from doing so.
It seems all the land inside the incorporated cities is either built on or those who own the property are not willing to sell the land. The only areas remaining available for development are outside the incorporated cities. These proposed changes to the 10 acre law are being investigated for approval to provide more opportunity for citizens to develop property outside the cities.
The key elements of this proposal are: affects new subdivisions only; allows for subdivisions to be of one to five developed lots; lots may be two acres or larger; legal surveys are required; approval for all utilities is required prior to application to subdivide; and a development plan is required.
One of the main intents of this proposed change is to facilitate the orderly development of Emery County. Along those lines, the Emery County master plan must be considered before any development occurs.
"For the past several years, the planning commission has received numerous requests from individuals who wish to develop land outside the incorporated areas. Many of those requests have been verbal and many have been written. The Emery County Board of Commissioners asked us to undertake the project to review and make proposals for the changes," said Mack Huntington, chairman of the planning and zoning commission. "We are gathering comments from the public before we forward our final recommendations to the commissioners."
Huntington explained when the commissioners received the planning commission's final recommendation, they have three options. They can reject it, amend it, or they can adopt it. "They make the final decision," he said. "We oversee land use issues."
All of the comments received during the public hearing phase of the process were against the proposed changes. Many of the comments were concerned with items covered in the draft proposal. One item discussed was the role of the Castle Valley Special Service District in the event of development outside of their boundaries.
It was explained the developer of property outside the incorporated areas is responsible for the approval and installation of all utilities. Following the development of the property, the property owner is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep to those systems. Although, as far as the roads are concerned, the property being considered for subdivision must be on an existing county road.
Julie Love, a member of the planning commission, stated, "Our requirements are every bit as stringent as those of the cities in the county. These proposed changes put the cities in the drivers seat as far as approving any development that takes place around them."
Darrel Leamaster of the CVSSD suggested annexation into a city would be a better alternative. His concern is for the existing residents, who pay a special service district tax, who would be subsidizing the residents outside of the city limits. Leamaster was informed the cities are at liberty to set the impact fees for the residents outside of the limits who are going to benefit from the services provided by the special service district. These impact fees should cover the costs for the city and the district. The cities also have the ability to charge the residents outside of their city, who are connected to their services and do not pay the special service district taxes, a higher rate for the monthly service.
Huntington expressed his concern for the city representatives who were present with negative comments on the proposed changes. "Last year, we approached every city in Emery County and requested your involvement and input on this project. Every one of you told us you were not interested."
Gary Arrington, a member of the planning commission, said, "Emery County has the strictest acreage rules in the entire state. These changes will not affect the entire county. Our job is to plan for the future. We are not trying to tell anyone what to do."
Huntington expressed his appreciation for their participation in the public process and said the planning commission recommendations to the county commissioners.
McCandless had this to say after the meeting, "To me the question on this issue is simple. There is a substantial demand for building lots in the county. Many of these people either cannot find lots in the cities or do not wish to be in a city. Do we want growth in the region to go to Carbon County or do we want to provide an opportunity for that growth to occur in Emery County. Right now almost all of that growth is going to Carbon.
"I think one really important detail that was not discussed at the meeting is that this proposed change does not affect the existing 10 acre rule. It is only a change related to the development of new subdivisions. "
"If someone has 10 acres and comes in for a permit, we will continue to handle it the same way we always have. The proposed changes only apply if someone wants to go through the additional steps required to put together a subdivision. The subdivision can include only one lot if they like, and it can be two acres, but they do have a higher burden of proof than they do with a 10 acre lot.
"Another item that was only lightly discussed was roads. One of the requirements for building a subdivision under the proposed ordinance is that the property has to have frontage on an existing county system road or state highway. So, services like snow removal, garbage pickup and those kinds of services are already being provided on those routes.
"The key elements of the proposal are:
Affects subdivisions only;
Allows for subdivisions of one to five lots to be developed;
Lots may be two acres or larger
A legal, recorded survey on the lot or lots is required.
Prior to division of land as a subdivision, applicant must recieve:
Approval for all utilities - water, sewer, electrical, telephone and roads;
A development plan which including a detailed schedule of development of infrastructure is required before the applicaton will be approved," McCandless said.
Eric Anderson of Emery, said that he knew all the cities in the Emery County, with the exception of Emery, have sent to the Emery County Commissioners letters objecting to the proposed change for subdivisions.
They do not want minor subdivisions of five or more two acre lots. The want to stick with the 10 acre lot size requirement.
Anderson suggests that cities consider annexing land out side of town limits in a planned way to accomadate future growth.
The town of Emery has not sent in a letter to the commissioners yet.