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February 6, 2014
Grantsville tables subdivision plan for developer to make alterations

A proposal for a new subdivision in Grantsville City was tabled after a wave of community input and a fierce debate between the developer and council members.

As currently planned, Wells Crossing, a proposed subdivision at 600 S. Hale Street, features 236 lots on 125 acres. That density is somewhat eased from the development proposal to the Grantsville Planning and Zoning Commission in October, which was for 243 lots on the parcel. The land is currently zoned for half-acre lots.

Under the development’s current proposal, 19 lots are a half acre larger, while 101 lots range from .27 to .32 acres. The remainder range from a third to just under a half an acre. The average lot size is .36 acres.

In addition, the development proposes a 3.75-acre park, storm runoff retention facility, and dedicated land to Grantsville City for future roads to potentially connect Hale and Nygreen Streets. Private land would also have to be purchased by the city to allow such a road to be completed.

Most concerns expressed by residents who live near the proposed subdivision include construction and new residential traffic, storm runoff, more strain on water and sewer lines, and the increased housing density jeopardizing the rural feel of the area.

“That’s a lot of houses and a lot of traffic,” said Zach Fuller, who lives near 500 S. Hale Street. “I’d like to be able to go on my front porch and not have to stare at a wall of houses a half block away and not be able to see the mountains.”

Fuller noted that he worries the increased traffic will make the neighborhood less safe for his three young children.

Gary Snow, also an area resident, said the open feel of his house and yard has already been compromised by the Blake Mountain subdivision on south Hale Street. He is concerned the current infrastructure will be further threatened by more than 200 more houses, and the construction vehicles they would require.

“That road wasn’t designed for the traffic there is now,” he said.

An outlet road onto Mormon Train Road for the subdivision was proposed, but residents questioned how much it would be used instead of Hale Street, which is a more direct route to downtown Grantsville.

“If somebody wants to go to the gas station or Soelberg’s, they’re not going to go around on Mormon Train Road — they’re going to go through Hale Street,” said Tom Camp, another resident.

Sam Drown, a representative for Wells Crossing, argued that during the course of development, Hale Street would be improved, easing residents’ current infrastructure frustrations.

“We agree that there’s a problem with the road and we plan on participating with the city on the improvement of that road,” he said. “We realize that we’re going to have an impact on it, and just from a marketing perspective, as well, it’s important for that road to be nice and be safe and to support the development that we propose.”

Drown said he believed those improvements and the park, which would be handed over to the city, would more than make up for the increased density the development needed, and the openness of the park would compensate for the decreased lot size. Were the development to stick to half-acre lots, Drown said, none of those amenities could be provided.

“I’m in the minority here, but in my opinion, third-acre lots are nicer than half-acre lots,” he said. “People can landscape them, they can afford to live there. The city is getting something in exchange for this.”

Members of the Grantsville City Council were split over the proposal, which is only at the “planned unit development” stage, meaning a developer still has to achieve a number of other proposals and permits before ground can be broken.

Comments from the planning and zoning meeting last fall, which drew a crowd of about two dozen residents who spoke against it and was ultimately denied by the commission, threw weight against the proposal. Council members did concede that some of the planning and zoning commission’s suggestions had been taken, though some said it wasn’t enough.

“The planning and zoning, they weren’t happy with your plan at all,” said Councilman Mike Colson. “They said you were wasting a lot of peoples’ time by even bringing this to them. And you cut out maybe five or six, seven lots from it, but you still have a lot of lots that are less than a third of an acre.”

He added, “I don’t know if you’re just misunderstanding or there’s some confusion on a planned unit development, but a planned unit development isn’t to allow a developer to come in and just, for economic reasons, try to jam as many lots in their acreage as possible.”

Colson further said he did not feel the park and other amenities compensated for the increased density, especially since it was likely the park would mostly be used by residents of that subdivision, rather than being easily accessible to other city residents.

Because the council’s consideration of the plan was an appeal of planning and zoning commission’s denial, denying the motion would mean Wells Crossing could not reapply for a P.U.D. for two years.

Councilman Scott Stice, joining the meeting remotely, said he was not in favor of the current plan, but believed it could be amended in the pre-development process to something more in line with the city’s vision.

Councilman Neil Critchlow agreed, saying he thought, if lot sizes were increased and some other changes made, the development would be done nicely.

The council ultimately moved to table the issue, requiring Drown to re-present the plan to the planning and zoning commission, after some alterations were made. In the split vote, Critchlow, Johnson and Stice voted in favor of tabling, with Colson and Councilman Tom Tripp dissenting.

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