The French Quarter issue was remedied last Wednesday when the Carbon County Commission voted to abandon the subdivision, but keep the zoning on the property in place.
The debate has continued for more than two months. The issue has bounced between the planing-zoning board, which recommended the changes, and the commission meetings, where residents voiced concerns about reversing the process that started when the farm land was changed to a R-1-2000 designation for the housing development.
"I think, when you hear what he wants to do with the land, this can all be worked out," said Joane Pappas White referring to the petition from Gary Scow for the change. "I don't think his desires and what we all want are that different."
White has been a critic of abandoning the subdivision due to water problems that have reportedly affected 125 acres she leases nearby.
"I just want to put the ground back into one lot so I can farm it," Scow told the commission. "I want one area to build a house and the rest I want to return to agricultural use."
Part of the debate has apparently involved misunderstandings about what a R-1-2000 zone will and will not allow. Scow has been concerned that, if the subdivision were abandoned without a zoning change, it would not allow him to do some things he wants to do.
"As a department, we want to keep the zoning intact," said county building director Dave Levanger. "It is important to note that, under these conditions, the land can be used for what Mr. Scow wants to do under the present zoning. All you, as a commission, have to do is abandon the subdivision and he can proceed with his plans."
In the past, there has been concern that the county would be liable if the utilities were left in place and created problems for people living nearby. Shane Campbell of Scamp Construction told the commission that some sewer and water lines were laid with gravel underneath. Even if plugged, the lines could act as a leach drain, carrying water away from some areas and toward others. Scamp Construction installed the utilities, but halted construction when the project defaulted.
"One of our biggest concerns is that someone will come in and try to develop something less than was originally proposed on the land using the present utility systems," indicated White . "The type of development proposed, a very classy subdivision, was what neighbors agreed to. We don't want something else in its place."
White felt the county shouldn't let Scow assume liability because, if something went wrong, he would not have the resources to handle the situation.
One problem identified by officials was the way the letter of credit was handled. The zoning department released $75,000 of the line because of the partial completion of the project was presented, $200,000 remained when it was revoked. Most officials have questioned the way the lending institution handled the matter.
"I have never seen a bank of this caliber do this type of thing," said Levanger.
The commissioners agreed that abandoning the subdivision plat along with an agreement by Scow to plug the utility lines and not rezoning represented the best answer.
Acting on unrelated agenda items, the commission:
Discussed the possibility of a website for the animal shelter.
According to Patty Pierce, animal control director, such a site would allow the shelter to put photos of animals they pick up or have for adoption on the web and the result would be more owners found and more adoptions made.
The county will look into a way the site can be set up through their internal system rather than having a totally separate site.
Opened bids for concrete ready mix for the road department. Two bids were received; one from Christensen Ready Mix of Huntington for $75 a yard. Another came from Geneva Rock with the bid based on the bag mix in the yard; five bag mix for $72.50, a five and a half bag mix per yard for $75 or a six bag per yard mix for $77.50. Lawmakers asked road supervisor Ray Hanson to review the bids and make a recommendation.
Opened bids for a truck for maintenance and abatement. Mountain View Motors submitted a bid for $20, 417. But Community Motors submitted a number of bids for various trucks that fit the county's specifications . The bids ranged from $16,750 to $19,500. The commission will have the director of that department, Mike Johnson look the bids over for a recommendation.
Shane Baggs from Peak Cablevision approached the commission about another change in the existing franchise. The change will move the cable system to PRECIS a company that handles many rural cable systems. Baggs told the commission that he feels this company will be more committed to the community based on their record of healthy capital expenditures toward rural cable franchises they own.
Gary Harrison, service manager of Carbon/Emery Telcom, updated Carbon officials on the company's activities. Since taking over the telephone system from Qwest last April, the company has laid 24 miles of new cable and added voice messaging to local services.
In addition, the company has added DSL service to some areas and are planning on expanding that to most areas soon. Harrison also discussed Helper's old phone system and how the company plans to upgrade the situation.
Discussed several remaining issues in dealing with the repermitting process at the county land fill. According to state regulations, Carbon government has to have a fund put aside to close the landfill if the county becomes insolvent. The estimated revenues required to finish the repermitting total $61,460.
According to Commissioner Bill Krompel the state allows a county to put up 20 percent of the money the first year of the permit and then add to it in subsequent years.
Commissioner Mike Milovich suggested that the county look at the budget and include all the money needed as soon as possible.