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Front Page » July 22, 2004 » Local News » County planning board considers road issues
Published 4,100 days ago

County planning board considers road issues

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Carbon County has developed a general policy over the last few years not to accept responsibility or title to roads from developers or private parties unless they are paved. However, that policy came into question before the Planning and Zoning board on the subject of a Kenilworth subdivision under consideration.

In the last few years, Carbon County has developed a general policy of not accepting responsibility and title to roads from developers or private parties unless the byways are paved.

However, the policy came under question at the Carbon County Planning and Zoning Board meeting July 13 when a subdivision near Kenilworth was under consideration and the department staff asked for a clarification on the subject.

"I know what has been done in the recent past, but there is a gravel road standard in the county's development code," said director of planning and zoning, Dave Levanger. "I think we need some kind of clarification on the issue."

"We did take on two subdivisions a few years ago that did not have pavement," said board member Richard Tatton. "But because of complaints from those living there about dust, we ended up paving them."

But board member Earl Gunderson said he believes cement or asphalt are not always the answer for all problems. Levanger confirmed that, in some ways, paved roads actually create more problems.

"One of the things we are dealing with more and more is non-point pollution regulations," stated Levanger. "Pavement causes a lot of that."

Non-point pollution refers to pollution sources that have no single contributor such as an industrial or chemical plant.

Roads that are paved have numerous contributors to water pollution, ranging from the pavement which can bleed oil to vehicles dropping oil and other substances onto the roadway. The materials then get into runoff when precipitation occurs.

The polluted water ends up in streams, lakes and eventually the ocean by flowing directly in or by going through untreated storm drains.

Water also carries pollutants into underground drinking water as it soaks into the ground.

Mel Coonrod, who is planning a subdivision near Kenilworth, pointed out there are often other reasons to have gravel roads in a development, especially one that is considered a mountain retreat type of subdivision.

"I think part of the sales appeal in the type of subdivision we are planning is the fact that people can have horses and they want equestrian trails," he explained. "For instance, we would like to tie the trails in our subdivision in with the new county trail planned for the old railroad bed nearby. But with paved roads, it makes that difficult. People don't like to ride their horses on or across pavement."

At the meeting Coonrod received the board's approval on a rezoning request and the concept for the Vista View subdivision.

During the process, which took almost a year to get to the present stage, Coonrod had to make the decision to keep the roads in the development private, because the cost of paving the streets would make lots so expensive he would not be able to sell them.

"If we had to pave all the roads in the place it would raise the price of the lots to over $100,000," he told the commission. "We solved some of our earlier right of way problems because we were able to buy an additional 76 acres which makes the development adjoin Kenil-worth Road and so we will not be crossing anyone elses property. As the lots are sold our company will control and maintain the roads. Once the lots are all sold, there will be a home owners association which will take the maintenance over."

Coonrod pointed out that the roads will meet county standards in every way except for the paving.

"I have been told by a number of people who take care of roads that gravel roads are actually less expensive to maintain than paved ones," said Coonrod. "I just wonder if the county's perception about what a good road is needs to change."

Tatton said at the end of the discussion that since the development code allows for county owned gravel roads, that the rule about accepting them should not be hard and fast.

"But whatever is done must be palatable to the county," stated Tatton.

The developer's subdivision also came under scrutiny concerning water and sewer systems as well as fire protection.

Coonrod explained that the development would have plenty of water pressure and delivery because it would be tapping off the main line that now goes to Kenilworth.

"Right now, there is a 1,080 gallons per minute of flow in that line and the pressure coming off it is 208 pounds per square inch," he explained. "As for sewer, those houses built north of the wash (that divides the development) will have sewer. Because of the logistical problems of laying a sewer line to the lots south of the wash they will be on septic tank systems."

Coonrod also said that the lots will be developed with a minimum of a two inch water hydrant for fire protection within 30 feet of any home built.

"And since PRWID (Price River Water Improvement District) must pump the water up to the homes in Kenilworth now, and that is so expensive, these new homes will probably cut the cost for water for residents already living there, because these lots will be absorbing part of that expense," he said.

Another zoning issue that was discussed in the meeting concerned what Levanger termed "private camps."

"Each summer we get hammered on this one," he stated. "People come in to our office and tell us they want to pull their RVs onto their private ground in the mountains and keep those units there all summer. Right now we don't allow that. But if we did come up with a way to allow private camps, it might also be a nightmare to enforce. I could see Beaver Creek filling up with trailers if we did something like that."

There are a number of trailers in Beaver Creek and structures which were built without the county's approval.

"I am just concerned about those types of developments fouling streams that we use here in the valley," said Levanger of the area which drains into the Price River. "I am inclined not to support a move to place such a designation into the development code, but I can't say I am totally opposed either. I just have a lot of questions and concerns about doing it."

Tatton suggested that the issue be put on a future agendas the public could comment on the idea and the commission agreed with that."

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