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Commission denies request for approval of 12-lot subdivision

Sun Advocate reporter

With large vehicles, such as buses, traveling Robertson Lane, there is little room for vehicles to pass. For residents, this represents a safety concern, particularly for children walking to and from the bus stop. The county has already prohibited parking on the pavement. Now residents are asking that the road be improved or an alternate route be constructed before development in the area be allowed to move forward.

A subdivision proposed for development south of Price was delayed last week by Carbon County commissioners.

While three other subdivisions were approved without opposition, residents from the neighborhood near the fourth proposed project spoke out against the development at a public hearing on Sept. 6.

The South Meadows subdivision is one of a series of projects proposed by Angelo Kiahtipes in the area in recent years. The proposal is a 12-lot subdivision which would expand development at approximately 3000 South and 710 West.

As part of the process of approving a subdivision, a developer first appears before the county planning and zoning board.

In a series of appearances, developers address issues surrounding the subdivision and the board inspects engineering and other documents to ensure that the development is in line with other planning efforts in the area and that health and safety can be adequately maintained in the new subdivision.

Once the planning board agrees that the developer has met all necessary requirements, it forwards the matter to the county commission and schedules a public hearing. At any point along the way, members of the public can attend planning meetings, but only the public hearing is advertised with a legal notice in Sun Advocate.

That process concerned some residents in the area, who said they would have spoken out against the development earlier, had they been aware of the proposal.

But those same members of the public arrived at a public hearing last week, where they addressed their concerns relating to the development to commissioners.

The widest concern addressed by area residents was that roads in the area are not adequate to handle any more traffic than they do now.

However, secondary concerns of sewer, water and other issues arose as the public presented a case against the subdivision.

In order to access the proposed subdivision from Utah Highway 10, drivers must wind through a series of streets. A single access route from Highway 10 serves existing development and any additional homes would increase traffic on these roads.

The first of these streets is Robertson Lane, which connects to Highway 10 at 2000 South. From Robertson Lane, drivers turn south on 500 West, which becomes 2550 South. At this point, drivers can choose one of two routes, either continuing on 2550 South or turning onto 660 West. Both of the streets eventually become 2640 South, where drivers can turn south on 710 West.

It is at the end of 710 West where developers plan to create the 12 lots on a cul de sac, which would connect to 710 West just south of current development. Residents argued that the roads which access the subdivision, some of which are as narrow as 22 feet wide, are not wide enough to handle the current load, let alone any additional traffic generated by new development.

Robertson Lane has already been recognized as a problem street. The 22-foot road serves not only the neighborhood where the subdivision is proposed, but also serves residents who live on Petitti Lane and other streets north of the area.

"We did attempt at one point to widen the road, but we had property easement issues," said Commissioner Mike Milovich.

Instead of widening the road, the county placed signs along Robertson Lane prohibiting vehicles from parking on the pavement.

County planning director explained that a few years ago, the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments had looked into possible routes to reduce traffic on Highway 10. In particular, the study found that residents who live in Westwood and Carbonville, and those who live near the Carbon County Fairgrounds, could be diverted onto a possible route which would begin near the Holiday Inn on 100 North and Hospital Drive and onto possible future roads, which connect to Highway 10 near Four Mile Hill

The results of that study led to a decision by county commissioners at that time that a corridor be established for such a road. Any development which fell into that corridor would need to maintain that corridor so that the road could be built at a later date.

The handful of landowners who have developed along the corridor have done so. One of the most recent developments in the traffic corridor has been under construction in recent months just south of 100 South near Hospital Drive. But at this point, the rest of the road is far from being built.

Further, without the planned traffic corridor, which could provide an alternate route for residents near the proposed South Meadows subdivision, residents are left with a single route into and out of their subdivision.

Brad Jarvis, a property owner just down the street from the proposed subdivision, told commissioners that there are 57 drivers on 710 West alone, to say nothing of the other roads which must be used to access the subdivision.

There are also 16 children who live on 710 West, who must walk to the bottom of their street to get to the school bus stop. Any children who would live in the proposed subdivision would have to do the same, since the bus cannot turn around on the cul de sacs in the area.

That creates some safety concerns, as a subdivision would generate more traffic on a street without sidewalks. In particular, during the winter, when children must walk on the street, the road is extremely narrow. With snow encroaching on the roads safety can be at risk as drivers attempt to pass each other. It becomes especially difficult on garbage collection days, when the street is further restricted by garbage cans and garbage trucks.

Without a secondary route, residents said they are opposed to any future development in the area.

More than the traffic volume, residents indicated that they are concerned about the safety of drivers, pedestrians and people in their yards and driveways, which have occasionally become accident scenes.

"I've lost four dogs in three years," said Neldon Noyes, a Robertson Lane resident. "I'd hate to lose a grandkid."

The county had decided a few years ago in reviewing another development in the same area, that a secondary road would be required, said Milovich.

In that decision, the county had blocked further development until a secondary route could be established.

Mark Tonc, who lives on Robertson Lane, said that many drivers ignore the speed limit and create a hazard.

Other residents present at the public hearing said that vehicle speed is also a problem on other streets in the area.

Tonc asked what could be done about driver speeds and said he favored installing speed bumps along the neighborhood roads.

Milovich said that speed bumps create additional hazards. If drivers continue to speed, they may lose control as their vehicles lose contact with the road. Rather than keeping speeding incidents contained to roads and shoulders, residents could have speeding incidents end in their driveways, front yards and living rooms.

By the end of the public hearing, transportation issues had ranged from turn lanes on Utah Highway 10, to street widths and from high-speed drivers to possible secondary routes. But in the end, most of the questions came down to property issues and funding to expand existing roads.

"What can we do to get the ball rolling?" asked Dave Jensen who lives just a few blocks from the proposed subdivision. Jensen said he was not opposed to the subdivision, but was opposed to development without addressing the safety and other concerns raised by members of the public.

"The public is not against responsible development," summarized Commissioner Bill Krompel after the public hearing came to a close. "But there are some issues."

Krompel said that the most obvious concerns were that Robertson Lane is not wide enough. Access to and from Highway 10 presented certain safety concerns and a secondary access route would be necessary for safety reasons.

And until those issues can be resolved, commissioners will likely curtail further development in the area.

The highway itself, is a state problem, pointed out Levanger. He said that in order to bring Highway 10 up to standards that would handle its current load, the Utah Department of Transportation is looking at more than $25 million in property easements alone. And that doesn't include paying for engineering, materials and labor to actually make it wider.

In order to handle the issues presented, the county proposed an ad hoc committee, comprised of residents, the developer, county officials and representatives of UDOT and the Price River Water Improvement District. The proposed subdivision goes back to the planning and zoning board for review.

"If you decide not to allow development out there, we won't develop," said Kiahtipes. "But no one had better develop out there."

In separate planning and zoning issues, county commissioners approved three other subdivisions. Two of those subdivisions are on land currently owned by Circle K Ranch, which Kiahtipes is in the process of developing.

One subdivision has been divided into 10 lots, and phase three of the North Creek subdivision was approved at 5695 South Upper Miller Creek Road.

The other, Circle K subdivision, Plat M, a 14-lot subdivision, is located at 2460 South 1000 East, just across the highway from the proposed South Meadows subdivision

A third subdivision, phase six of the Aspen Cove subdivision, creates 21 lots north of Scofield Reservoir for developer Mark Nelson.

In unrelated planning matters, the commission approved a zone change in the Hiawatha area. In the early '90s, the city had been rezoned as a watershed in a blanket decision by the commission that classified all areas higher than 7,000 feet as watersheds.

Property owner ANR Inc. requested that three of six sections of the city be rezoned as residential. Other areas of the city have already been rezoned as light commercial and historical preservation districts.

The final matter before the commission forwarded from the planning commission was for a conditional use permit for Garth Frandsen to place a liquid storage tank facility in the Ridge Road Industrial Park.

Frandsen said he plans to store two types of liquid products used in drilling gas wells and maintaining gas field roads.

County commissioners approved the permit and noted that the facility is the type of business that creates added value for gas developers in the county.

These types of businesses promote gas exploration and drilling by supporting the energy-related activities that are fueling the local economy.

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