A local developer will have to wait 30 days to find out the answer to his request to rezone 170 acres of land in Erda from agricultural to rural residential property.
After neighboring property owners raised concerns about the impact of increased housing density on water quantity and quality, the Tooele County Planning Commission voted at their March 2 meeting to postpone a vote on an application to rezone 170 acres of land east of Droubay Road and south of Arrowhead Lane.
That request is to switch from Agriculture 20 Acre, which permits one residence per 20-acre lot, to Rural Residential Five Acre, which allows one residence per five-acre lot.
“I think we need to have more discussion on this when we have more commission members here,” said Matt Peterson, a planning commission member.
Local real estate developer Joe White submitted the rezone application on behalf of the property owners, who are Moyle Limited Liability Co. and the Sagers Family Partnership.
Tooele County Planner Blaine Gehring presented a staff report suggesting that the planning commission send the rezone request to the county commission with a favorable recommendation.
“The request is in compliance with the county’s general plan and the surrounding property has already been rezoned RR-5.” Gehring said.
The property in question consists of two triangular pieces of land that are the northwest corner of two larger parcels. Each parcel is bisected by Union Pacific railroad tracks.
The southeast portion of the parcels are in the Pine Canyon Township and were rezoned RR-5 by the Pine Canyon Planning Commission, according to Gehring.
The railroad tracks are the boundary line between Pine Canyon and Erda townships so the land on the other side of the tracks was not included in the rezone, Gehring said.
Several neighbors spoke during the public hearing expressing concerns about a rezone that they fear will potentially increase the number of water wells and septic systems in the area.
“I’m worried that with the growth we will soon run out of water and find that sewage has seeped into wells,” said Ray Stewart, who lives on nearby Country Lane.
Wes Shields, who lives adjacent to the property in question, was also concerned about water and septic systems.
“How many more wells and septic systems can this area handle?” he asked.
Stansbury Park officials, with wells in the same aquifer as the property requesting a change in zoning designation, expressed concerns about going to smaller lots in the area.
“The more holes you punch in the aquifer, the greater the chances for contamination and depleting the aquifer,” said Randy Jones, Stansbury Park Service Agency manager. “Smaller and smaller lots means more wells.”
Karman Barton said she is afraid that the rezone to five-acre lots may open the door to even smaller lots like the 2.5 acre lots that were approved as part of a planned unit development in Arrowhead Estates.
Those lots are adjacent to the property now under consideration for a rezone.
“My concern is that the neighborhood that I moved to Erda for is being taken away from me,” Barton said. “The fact that the strip next to me got moved to 2.5 acre lots was a big concern to me. I felt like my rights were being taken away. I like Erda and I don’t want it to change. I don’t want my quality of life to change so someone else can make money.”
Gehring assured the planning commission that even with the zoning change, the subdivision approval process includes a review by the county health department for septic tanks and the developer would also need to demonstrate adequate water rights.
Planning commission member Lynn Butterfield recused himself from the public hearing and vote on the rezone. Although he is not directly involved in the current property development under review, as a real estate broker, Butterfield said he has represented both Joe White and the Moyle family in the past.
With five out of seven planning commissioners present for the meeting, Butterfield’s withdrawal left four commissioners to discuss and vote on the rezone.
Matt Peterson, Martie Leo, and Todd Castagno voted to table a vote on the rezone request until the planning commission’s April meeting. Jill Thomas voted against the motion to table. Planning commissioners Julie Pawlak and Bryan Coulter were absent.
“I don’t think having a pocket of A-20 in the middle of RR-5 is a bad thing,” said Thomas. “It is a good thing to leave open space.”
The Tooele County Planning Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for April 2. The planning commission holds public hearings on rezone requests and forwards their recommendation to the county commission for final action.