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Nibley council takes walking tour of city parks, rejects Pleasant Haven subdivision

October 16th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Benjamin Wood

NIBLEY — The City Council opened the meeting Thursday with a tour of the town’s parks and trail system. After returning to city chambers, the council voted for final approval of the subdivision of Todd Fenton’s property and rejected a proposal for Pleasant Haven conservation subdivision on 3600 South.
Nibley-council

The tour was led by City Manager Larry Anhder, who used the opportunity to acquaint members of the council with recent additions to the city’s park system as well as plans still in development. Others present included council candidate Shaun Platt and frequent meeting attendee Corlyss Drinkard. First stop on the tour was a cemented path recently placed along the outer edge of a park and adjacent to a nearby stream.

“I had no idea there was such a thing,” Drinkard commented. “It’s perfect for roller-blading, biking, walking, whatever you want to do.”

Those present were met along the path by a young Nibley resident named Madison who treated the group to home-made gingersnap cookies.

Bill Saunders, Nibley public works director, and Rod Elwood of the parks department met the mayor and council and explained some of their goals for the walking path, including work for aesthetics along the stream and a dock to get closer to the water.

“Why do we want to interfere nature with manmade objects?” Councilman Scott Larsen asked. Elwood suggested that the dock would allow residents a better view of the wetlands, as well as proximity for activities like feeding the ducks.

The group then moved on to Heritage Park where many families were present watching a local soccer game. Elwood and Saunders explained many of the ongoing projects, including landscaping and detail work around the field and parking lot. A large portion of the property is still undeveloped and Saunders said that there is a possibility for tennis courts, a baseball diamond or other activity related uses. Saunders also said that a nearby stream could be incorporated into a pond if the council so desired, though some safety concerns would have to be accounted for.

Platt and Drinkard both commented on the need for picnic areas and trees. “There are no shaded areas anywhere,” Platt said.

Anhder said that current expenditure at the park amounted to roughly $500,000, most of which coming from restaurant taxes.

Completing the tour, Anhder took the council up 3200 South St., where proposed landscaping is currently being debated by the council. Anhder said that one of the ideas is to line the breadth of 3200 South with snow crab apple trees, which are tolerant to roadside conditions and have a white blossom.

“There will not be a road in Cache Valley that can rival this. Imagine in April when those are all in bloom,” Anhder said.

Upon returning to city chambers, final approval was granted to Todd Fenton, who has been laboring for over a year to obtain approval to partition his property for in-fill development.

An ordinance passed in the last council meeting allowed for gravel private roads to serve single lots, something that facilitated Fenton’s plans; that ordinance came up again Thursday as council members debated the rhetoric about how far structures would have to be set back off of such roads. At one point Fenton became frustrated, commenting on his 13-month approval process.

“Do you folks think that is not insane?” Fenton asked. “I don’t understand, a lane to one home and I’m going to be treated like a regular public hightway.”

The council ultimately approved Fenton’s plan in a 4-1 vote.

The council did not, however, grant preliminary approval to the Pleasant Haven Subdivision. The proponent was vying for a conservation subdivision, a recently enacted ordinance that allows developers a density exception to acreage minimums in exchange for designating certain areas as open space. Pleasant Haven would essentially be
Nibley’s first conservation subdivision since the ordinance was enacted, and council members were careful in their examination.

Many neighboring residents attended the meeting and before council discussion, Mayor Gerald Knight opened the meeting to public comment to accommodate the crowd. Concern was raised about the small quarter-acre lot size of the proposed subdivision compared to the half-acre lots of the surrounding area.

“I feel it’s a precedent that shouldn’t be made in Nibley,” Robert Sidwell said of the quarter-acre size.

Brian Hickman said, “the lot size would detract from the value of our homes.”

Other residents were more vocal in their concerns.

“This is a future slum,” Drinkard said. “I’ve never seen something that looks so much like tract housing since I left the D.C. area.”

Kurt Jenkins said, “it doesn’t add to the value of the community, it detracts.”

While the development did allot for the required amount of open space to qualify for the high-density lots, the council said that the layout and location of the open space did not serve to benefit residents of the subdivision or the community, and that the proposal
did not allow a sufficient buffer between the subdivision’s densities and those of the adjacent properties.

Councilman Larry Jacobsen was somewhat divided on the issue, not wanting to miss an opportunity. “Over 12 lots, we may lose an opportunity to preserve open space,” Jacobsen said.

After each council member gave modification recommendations and encouragement to the proponent, the council voted unanimously to reject the Pleasant Haven subdivision as presented.

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