Zoning request turns into discussion about roads
|This railroad crossing at 1500 West and Carbonville Road is in the center of the resident's concern in the area about a number of road issues. Often vehicles must stop on the tracks when waiting to pull onto Carbonville Road. The crossing is also often blocked by trains that are waiting for others to pass on the single line, causing possible problems should emergency vehicles need to access the area. Narrow roads, odd intersections and lack of sidwalks are also concerns of locals.|
A seemingly short agenda for a regular Carbon County Commission meeting last Wednesday, turned from a simple as apple pie kind of formula into a complicated can of worms for commissioners when some local residents of a Carbonville neighborhood brought in a petition asking that a zoning request be denied.
"I'm representing some of the homeowners in the area," said Kevin Axelgard, a resident of Carbonville. "I have a petition here signed by about 80 of them asking you not to approve any zoning changes until an alternate route is put into the area."
The zoning request that Axelgard was referring to was a request from developer Jeff Spainhower to zone three lots near the Ballpark Subdivision from the RR-2.5 and M&G-1 to R-1-20,000. Axelgard explained that many of the residents of the area are concerned about the fact that the only access into the area is from 1500 West and Carbonville Road. With more homes in the area , what residents see as narrow streets will be that much busier, particularly if the zoning changes continue.
"We have no issue with Mr. Spainhower, in fact he has been a very responsible developer, but we just don't think there should be more development until the ingress and egress concerns we have are addressed," he said in further remarks.
Axelgard also expressed concern about other infrastructure as well.
"This summer we will be putting in some new water lines in the area with a grant we have received," stated Axelgard, who is also a board member on the Carbonville Water Company. "We have been working very hard for years to put these lines in, but we are concerned that what the new lines have been engineered for will not meet the requirements of more houses being added to the lines."
The controversy over the subdivision had more to do with the projected number of homes that could be built in the area (around 70) based on Carbon County Planning and Zoning Director Dave Levanger's estimate of what could be done with property that Spainhower has secured in the area.
"I am looking for a zone change only on this small piece of property," said Spainhower when he rose to respond to questions and concerns. "First of all, as we all know and can see there is no market in Carbon County for 70 lots."
He went on to explain that he had secured the piece of property he wanted to rezone so that people who had already built in the subdivision would not face something else being put on the property and then decided it should be included in the subdivision plot.
"The way I see it, there are a lot of places in this county that have only one way in and out or restricted access," he said. "I agree that it would be a good idea to have another access road into the area, but I see no reason to hold up development for that. Besides I have no plan for 70 homes in that area. I am looking more to do close to one acre lots with possibly 12 -20 homes there eventually."
Spainhower also pointed out that he couldn't put houses on the lots without an approval on the water systems viability.
Levanger also commented on the fact that there are places in the county that have one way in and out and also have roads that may not seem adequate.
"We at planning and zoning realize there are some problems in these areas," he said. "Most of all the planning and zoning commission understands. Right now we have a traffic counter from UDOT in place by the railroad tracks on 1500 West to see the rate of travel. Whether a road is narrow or not is really quite relative to who is looking at it. We definitely need to look at this problem."
But these comments did little to dispel the feeling that many of those from the area felt about what might happen.
"I'm not against development," said Gordon Odendahl, another resident of the area. "But I just want us to view this as to the greatest impact it could have on residents. If 70 homes were built in the area that would almost double the number that are there now. There are no sidewalks for kids to walk on and there are drainage issues since the canal was covered up."
Other residents commented on problems with the school buses on the narrow roads, other traffic issues, how the bridge over the Carbon Canal was constructed at a strange angle years ago and how the whole situation will tie into the projected Carbonville Road project.
"The redesign of Carbonville Road is going to create some other problems too," said Steve Tanner. "We need to address these issues as soon as possible. There will be no room to pull off to wait for trains that block 1500 West if the design doesn't provide for it. Right now when a train blocks the intersection there, Mountain States Road gets annihilated with traffic. Just ask those who live there. We need to take advantage of what we are doing now rather than wait five years and have to change it again."
But there were a few residents that saw nothing wrong with the development.
"I have lived in that area for 21 years and I have never been approached about the road problems until Jeff started his subdivision," said Shelly Millring. "I don't think it has to do with water or roads but about the development Jeff is doing. But if you look at our road (2250 North) there is a mobile home in every nook and cranny. The road past my house is very busy, but we bought our land so we could build on it."
The comments pro and con went on for about an hour and a half before Commission Chair Mike Milovich could finally close the public hearing. Commissioners then had a discussion.
"I am struggling with this because people should be able to do what they want with the property within reason," said Commissioner Bill Krompel. "But years ago, I read something that said that subdivisions seldom pay for themselves. Maybe we should table this and get some more information before we make a decision."
But the other two commissioners weren't convinced that the issue was one they could hold up approval over.
"I spent yesterday out there investigating these issues," stated Commissioner Steve Burge. "There are dead end streets and road issues there. We have to ask ourselves when the right time to tackle these problems are; now or later. Jeff has taken on the burden of buying this land single-handedly and I question whether there is a strong enough reason to stop him at this time over this issue over which he had no control. We do need to create a plan to fix this and I think we can resolve it through the planning and zoning process. Maybe we can put some language in that will help with the problem before any future development."
But county attorney Gene Strate pointed out that any intent language could not legally be put with a zoning change.
Levanger pointed out that there were actually many places in that area of the county where people could build a home without coming to the commission because the areas are already zoned for it.
"Only new development like Jeff is doing needs commission approval," he said.
The commission finally approved the zone change with Burge and Milovich voting for it and Krompel voting no.
"I made the motion to approve," said Burge. "But I believe we have been informed now and we can find a reasonable solution to these problems."