Two local landowners found that setting up a subdivision requires jumping through several hoops at the Carbon County planning and zoning board meeting on Tuesday.
Mel Coonrod and Cody Ware requested the board's approval on rezoning land located down the hill from Kenilworth. Coonrod and Ware hope to develop a small subdivision at the site. But access to the property became one sticking point in the proposal.
Coonrod recently received a zone change on a piece of land in the same area so he could build a home. He purchased another 70 acres along with Ware next to property. They requested the board's approval on changing the land from the mining and grazing designation to the residential five-acre zone.
"I remember a problem with access to your original piece of property," said Commissioner Mike Milovich, who serves as county government's representative on the planning and zoning panel. "Whatever happened with that?"
Coonrod explained that he has an agreement with Anadarko to use a gas field road, but nothing permanent has been established.
"When I checked with Blackhawk Coal, they said there would be no problem in doing so," stated Coonrod. "However, I have not heard back from them since."
Blackhawk has company property where Coonrod could establish permanent access to the proposed subdivision.
"With the newly purchased property that has direct access to the highway, we could now build a road into the area. But based on what the county requires for standards, it would be prohibitive in terms of cost," he continued
Coonrod explained that the two men wanted to not only build homes at the site, but develop a few lots for sale to pay for the purchase of the land as well as improvements to make the lots viable for buyers.
"Our problem is the idea of putting in a 22-foot paved road," stated Coonrod. "With the price of asphalt right now, we couldn't sell the lots for enough to cover the cost. We were thinking more of a 22 foot gravel road. Besides, we're not sure we want a paved road into the area anyway."
But Milovich and planning board members were concerned about the future of such a road.
"Here's the problem," noted Milovich. "If you want to turn the road over the county to maintain, it needs to be paved. If you want it to be a private lane and it accesses the number of houses you want to put in, it still needs to be 22 feet wide, but it can be gravel. But there is a limit on the number of houses such a road can service. Besides, we have found that, once a road is in, people want it paved."
Coonrod said he and Ware had driven around the county and found a number of unpaved roads leading to homes. However, Milovich indicated that the roads in question were actually private lanes.
Planning board member Earl Gunderson expressed concern that any kind of dirt or gravel road might create problems for fire trucks should the emergency vehicles have to respond to the area during wet or snowy weather.
Planning board member Lynna Topolovec felt that more details needed to be put on paper before the zoning could be changed on the property.
"I have some concerns about what you want to do in the future with this property," stated Topolovec. "We need something conceptual and more concrete to go on."
Ware said he wanted to start building his house on the property during the summer.
Planning panel members indicated that the two landowners could develop a conceptual plan and come back to the May meeting for the board's approval.
In the event the two landowners put in a private gravel road and later paved it, Coonrod asked if it could be turned over to the county.
Milovich indicated that the road could be turned over to the county as long as it met the established standards at the time of transfer.
In unrelated business at the Tuesday planning board meeting, the county's development staff disseminated information for the members.
First was a heads-up about a court case in Salt Lake County. Salt Lake County had been requiring a developer to widen a road running by a company project.
A court of appeals ruled that the county's actions against the developer were illegal because the officials had not conducted sufficient hearings and weighed evidence that the developer should have to comply.
The court ruled that the county would have to schedule hearings in the matter and respond to the developer's claims that a "taking" had occurred.
One court of appeals judge wrote a dissenting opinion, indicating that a taking should be immediately found and the developer should be paid compensation if the road improvements were made mandatory without substantial evidence to support the county's order.
The court case could have some impact on development in Carbon County because, depending on the situation. Roads around a development such as a subdivision need improvement when the development is put in place at the site and the county may make that part of the improvement costs that a developer must absorb.
The is largely because a home or homes in an area with an unimproved road or one with improper right of ways attached to it creates problems in terms of public services issues.
"It all comes down to tying the property and the requested improvements together," pointed out county planning director Dave Levanger on Wednesday.
"A number of years ago, a court case in the northwest by a business owner against a county that forced her to give them a piece of property with a trail on it in trade for the right to expand her business," explained the planning and zoning representative. "In the end, the supreme court ruled municipalities couldn't ask for improvements or rights that weren't directly related to the development itself."
Since the county has became aware of that result, local officials have been very conscious about only requiring what is absolutely necessary from developers.
Gayla Williams, deputy zoning administrator, presented the planning board members with a letter from the Bill Barrett Corporation.
The letter spelled out the compnay's proposed surface water monitoring program for the area around Nine Mile Canyon.
Bill Barrett Corporation has various facilities and gas wells operating in the Nine Mile area and the company is looking at developing more.
The company's proposed plan is to take initial samples from two locations in Dry Creek and two in Nine Mile Creek four times during the first year. After the first year, the areas will tested on an annual basis.
The planning board took the letter outlining the Bill Barrett Corporation proposal under advisement.