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Nibley votes to remove road from master plan, allowing property owner to keep land intact

September 18th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Benjamin Wood

NIBLEY — In a 3-2 vote, the City Council voted to remove a section of proposed road from the city’s master plan in order to facilitate an open-space easement on the property of Bob Schiess.

The council met in the Nibley Elementary School gymnasium, which was filled with residents participating in a public hearing that occurred prior to the vote. The discussion ran for over two hours and ranged from emotional and endearing comments to heated debate.

At one point during the hearing, Mayor Gerald Knight lightened the mood with a line from the film Back to the Future: “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads,” he said.

The two sides of the debate centered on that issue: where the direction of Nibley city was headed; and where the balance between rural preservation and civic planning lies.

At the center of the issue was Schiess, whose 28-acre property on 4000 South st. is currently undergoing the process of acquiring a conservation easement, essentially preserving the land from future development. The city’s current master plan calls for the extension of 450 North to serve future developers, and if built, would divide the property in two, nullifying the efforts by him and his family of preserving the agricultural heritage of the location, Shiess said.

“My main concern is keeping my land where it’s been since the 1940s,” Shiess said.

Many of those that expressed their concerns during the hearing commented on having benefited from the property, and Shiess’s daughter Amy Platt spoke of a non-profit program, currently run on the property, that allows handicapped youth to ride horses and become familiar with other typical farm animals.

“If the road goes through there I won’t be able to continue that program,” Platt said.

Shiess is currently applying to the LeRay McAllister Critical Land Conservation Fund and, along with friends and family, said that with the preserved space and additional funding the children’s program will be improved as well as other alterations to the grounds, such as pedestrian walkways and horse riding paths, to serve the community.

Dave Forbush said that while a bisecting road would not disqualify Shiess, it would greatly hinder his chances at receiving funds.

The strong majority of citizens present supported the removal of the road, and applause often echoed through the gym as resident after resident stood to voice their support for Schiess.

“I’m in favor of a man owning his property and doing with his property what he wants,” said Paul Howell, a 36-year Nibley resident.

Tony Miller said, “We don’t have a main street with a museum and shops. What we do have is an agricultural heritage.”

Dar McPhee expressed his views on the benefit that the community would receive from the property, if preserved.

“This is a chance for Nibley city to have open space,” McPhee said. “This land will serve Nibley for many, many years to come.”

One resident, Ryan Harper, brought produce from his property to demonstrate his support for preserving open space.

“I know why I moved here. I grew this carrot,” Harper said to audience laughter, “I had two but they’re really good.”

Some residents however, saw the proposed roadway as a necessary part of the city plan and warned that traffic would certainly increase in other parts of the city as a result of removing the 450 North St. extension.

“We run a risk of creating havoc by altering the master plan,” Cynthia Fredrickson said.

Councilman Scott Larsen, in his comments following the public hearing, expressed his concern in removing the road without a clear alternative in place and cited reports by the city planner and manager that recommended the plan be left intact.

Thayne Mickelson, of the council, said while vehicle movement has to be an integral part of city planning, there are times when the benefits of creating an open location outweigh the transportation difficulties. Mickelson referenced the LDS church’s acquisition of a road parcel near Temple Square in Salt Lake City and said that the plaza created has benefitted the community.

“Traffic patterns haven’t changed in the slightest,” Mickelson said.

While there was discussion of the benefits of leaving the road, the consensus amongst members of the audience and council fell heavily in favor of keeping Shiess’s property intact.

“I think we have one for keeping the road in the master plan, and everyone else in the room against,” said Harper, summing up his view of the public hearing to audience applause.

Ultimately, Mickelson along with councilmen Bryan Hansen and Larry Jacobsen voted in favor of the ordinance, removing the road from the city plan. An amendment was proposed by Jacobsen and passed by the council, requiring an alternative route to mitigate the loss of 450 North. The council also passed a resolution declaring support for Shiess’s application for the conservation easement.

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  1. One Response to “Nibley votes to remove road from master plan, allowing property owner to keep land intact”

  2. By discount auto parts on Oct 26, 2009

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