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Front Page » March 25, 2008 » Local News » Ordinance change allows for development of two acre lots...
Published 3,254 days ago

Ordinance change allows for development of two acre lots in the county

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Emery County commissioners approve the subdivision ordinance. Gary Kofford, Drew Sitterud and Jeff Horrocks.

The Emery County Commissioners approved the planning and zoning changes to the subdivision ordinance which will allow someone to build on two acres of land in the county. The ordinance comes with many requirements to allow this to be done. This new ordinance, Article 13, hopes to facilitate the orderly development of the county.

Mike McCandless, planning and zoning administrator for Emery County said the passing of this ordinance has been the culmination of five years of work by the planning and zoning commission. He believes the ordinance has built in protections to allow for controlled growth in the county. Each lot must have county or state road frontage. The services in the county are delivered along existing county roads. "Using existing roads makes sense because this is where the utilities already exist. Growth will be limited to where available services exist."

The cities have been encouraged to annex land into the city before improvements are made to lots near the city. In doing so, this would make the cities responsible for putting these services into the newly annexed area. In other areas around Utah, a developer will develop the land and be responsible for all the services at their expense and then come to the city and ask for annexation after this preparatory work has been completed. This method removes the responsibility from the city to provide services to developing areas.

At the commission meeting where the subdivision ordinance was approved, it was brought up the cities were being urged to place a moratorium on all water connections outside the cities. This will cause problems for those people wishing to build on their two acres. The county commissioners held a public hearing at the meeting and many residents spoke in favor of the subdivision ordinance and the Castle Valley Special Service District spoke against the change to two acres. Amber Barnes said she is in favor of the change to two acres because she has been unable to find someone willing to sell a lot in Ferron. "I want to stay in Ferron, but no one is willing to sell," said Barnes. "I would like it to change to give more opportunity to stay in Ferron."

Ron Barney spoke and said his granddaughter has been to 11 different individuals to buy a lot. She was turned down each time. Some people are saving their land for oil and gas development. "I don't see a problem with two acre lots. We need a place for kids to live. We are exporting our greatest asset our youth," said Barney.

Darrel Leamaster, manager of the Castle Valley Special Service District presented two letters of opposition to the subdivision ordinance to the commission. The administrative control board of the CVSSD is opposed to the two acre change. The 10 acre rule encourages growth in the cities. Leamaster acknowledged the problem cities are having with people unwilling to sell available lots and the cities are working on this. The district fears that growth will occur in a doughnut shape around the cities if the ordinance goes into effect, because that's where the services are. Leamaster said in the February meeting of the CVSSD they voted to no longer approve hookups outside of the cities. Connections outside the cities create problems in maintenance for lines, installations or repairs. "The district can avoid those problems by not selling the connections. We will honor all current agreements and easements," said Leamaster. Leamaster encouraged the commission not to pass the ordinance.

The cities have a long history of providing water beyond the boundaries of the cities. Individual water users inside the county and outside the cities are responsible for expenses involved in these connections. McCandless pointed out that even people within the cities are responsible for their own lines behind the meter. People are required to repair their own water lines at their own expense.

In the northern end of the county North Emery Water provides the culinary water service to county residents. As a result property owners around Huntington, Cleveland, Elmo and in Lawrence would not be effected by a moritorium by CVSSD. The board of North Emery water users is supportive of the new ordinance.

Darrell Gardner also spoke against the change to two acres. He said he owns several acres of property around Cleveland and Orangeville and enjoys the rural life. He doesn't like the idea of urbanization. He has a cattle operation and doesn't want urban people moving in and telling him what to do. Gardner also worries about the property values in the county going up and not being able to afford higher taxes.

When the ordinance was being discussed, Commissioner Kofford compared it to a chess game; "It's hard to sit here and try to push a square peg into a round hole. From the comments we've heard one family says they are for it and we have continually heard for years how that 10 acre rule needs to be changed to two acres. So we are passing that ordinance to allow building on two acres lots, but now these people will go to the city and the city will say there is a moratorium on water connections. The county needs to break this log jam. Some people want to stay rural but they want the same services. Our tax base has eroded from the days when the power plants were first built. We need new growth. We can't continue to provide the same services, without growth and an increased tax base. How do we break the cycle," said Kofford.

He said the taxes in the county are as high as they can go. The planning and zoning commission is in favor of the change from 10 acres down to two acre lots. Several people on the board have been working on this ordinance for years at the insistence of county residents. "I apologize to the people of Emery County as we go to two acres." Kofford said it will cause heartache because now people will have the land and they will be told they can't get a water connection.

Sheriff LaMar Guymon also sits on the commission board as a non-voting member. He said he can't pick a side on the issue, but if someone has a 10 acre lot now, then they can control what happens around them for 10 acres. "It's petty for the cities to shut it off now and say nobody else can, (have a water connection). This ordinance gives an orderly way to grow not controlled by government. The growth is around the cities now. If someone wants to build a house now, they can get the ground, but can't get the water. If I have a 100 acres I can control what's around me," said Guymon.

Bill Dellos is a member of the planning and zoning commission, he said at one of their meetings they learned that the services of Orangeville are only operating at 40-50 percent of capacity. This leaves a lot of room for growth. "I love this county and want to see it grow," said Dellos.

Leamaster spoke again saying he doesn't want to be misunderstood. The cities want growth. They want the land to be annexed into the city first and then built upon. "Opening growth up to everywhere would be chaotic. We are not opposed to growth," said Leamaster.

All of the commissioners voted for the approval of the two acre subdivision ordinance.

McCandless said a lot of money has been spent in the county since the 10 acre ordinance came into effect in 1979. There are many more paved roads in the county now than at that time. At that time the infrastructure wasn't as far reaching as it is now. The ordinances have not kept up with the growth in the county. The county is bound by its laws and ordinances. The planning and zoning commission is obligated to review change and see how it meets the goals for the county's general plan. McCandless feels the new subdivision ordinance will work to preserve rural lifestyles. Now farmland will not have to be taken out of production just to provide 10 acres so a landowner's family will have a place to build. Two acres can be used for a home and the other eight acres can remain under cultivation.

McCandless was impressed the commissioners held another public hearing on the zoning issue. The planning and zoning held a public hearing last year, which was the only one legally required. McCandless said the county has experienced record house building the last two years. Forty-50 new houses have been built countywide. "This is a positive opportunity for new growth. These subdivisions will have a more intense review than the 10 acre ordinance. A public hearing will be held on each one," said McCandless.

The ordinance will implement the county's major street plan. The ordinance will facilitate the orderly transfer of the ownership of building sites in a manner consistent with state law. The ordinance will facilitate the provision of adequate water, sewer, drainage, utilities, fire protection and other services to developing areas of the county. The ordinance will establish the rights, duties and responsibilities of subdividers with respect to the development of land within the county.

The new ordinance puts forth the following minimum requirements in order to be considered a minor subdivision. Minor subdivisions shall be allowed only within the A-1 zone in Emery County. Not more than five lots may be created. Each lot must contain at least two acres. Meets and bounds are acceptable legal descriptions for minor subdivisions, so long as they have been provided by a certified surveyor and a record of survey is filed in accordance with UCA 17-271-605(2)(6); however plats and plat maps are acceptable and preferred.

The division does not result in remnant land, land that cannot be developed due to size set backs, etc. that did not previously exist.

Minor subdivisions do not require addition of infrastructure above and beyond that which is available generally in the surrounding properties, curb, gutter sidewalk would only be required if the adjoining properties have those amenities at the time of application.

The developer may present a development plan that upon approval by the land use authority, allows for staged development-lots may be developed individually, in groups or all at once, so long as the plan and the accompanying schedule is met.

Each lot shall have the required frontage on an improved public street, county road, or public highway as set forth in this ordinance. Each lot shall meet all applicable cross section and construction standards as set forth in this ordinance.

Concerning streets and roads- While gravel roads are an acceptable construction medium for the surface of streets and roads, all streets and roads shall be improved in conformance with the applicable cross-section and construction standards as adopted by the county commission. Residential minor roads constructed within the subdivision shall have a right of way width of not less than 60 feet. Streets and roads are defined as such if the roadway serves three or more lots in a subdivision.

Driveway access-The minimum width of a driveway shall be 12 feet. The maximum grade of a driveway shall not exceed 10 percent. Twelve percent grades may be allowed for up to but not to exceed 250 lineal feet. Any driveway longer than 300 feet, shall have either a designated turn around area large enough for a 40 foot emergency vehicle to make a complete turn, or shall have 24 feet wide passing areas, at least 60 feet in length every 500 feet. A driveway is defined as such if it serves two or less lots within a subdivision.

This change in the subdivision ordinance will have no effect on the 10 acre building rules. Anyone wishing to build on 10 acres will still have to meet the requirements of that existing ordinance. The change only affects proposed lots smaller than 10 acres.

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