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Unpaved private roads OK in rural Nibley now, council says

October 3rd, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Benjamin Wood
NIBLEY — The City Council voted Oct. 1 to adopt an ordinance allowing gravel private roads in certain areas of the city; consideration of the proposed Brook Hollow subdivision was also discussed and conditions for final approval were established.

The gravel road ordinance came about in large part due to petitioning by former mayor Todd Fenton, who is seeking approval by the council to split his property into a second lot in the rural area of Hollow Road. Pre-existing ordinances regarding private roads would require a paved surface extending to developed lots, a process that would be both costly and unnecessary in Fenton’s view.

“It would put an undue burden on many people on Hollow Road,” Fenton said.

The ordinance was originally written for gravel driveways but was changed on the recommendation of Councilman Larry Jacobsen for clarity and to be integrated into the existing private road ordinances.

The council meeting included public hearings to address both the gravel road ordinance and the proposed subdivision, and community members were present to voice their support. Several Hollow Road residents voiced their view that the unique rural character of the area warrants gravel driveways and Fenton presented statistics saying that 72 percent of driveways along Hollow Road are gravel.

Before the hearings began, council members discussed the growing issue in Nibley city and Cache Valley of preserving a rural environment while accepting development for incoming residents.

“We all want to preserve something just the way it is after we change it,” Jacobsen said.

The adopted ordinance allows for gravel private roads as long as those roads serve a single building lot, are paved for the first 50 feet off of public roads and require developers to address dust and erosion concerns. An amendment to limit the ordinance to only Nibley’s rural estate zone was originally defeated by Councilman Bryan Hansen, but after added encouragement by Mayor Gerald Knight the amendment was revisited and unanimously passed by the council. Councilmen Shaun Dustin and Scott Larsen were not present.

In recent weeks there has been considerable public debate regarding roads in rural areas of Nibley City. Two weeks ago, a public hearing drew a crowd of over 100 residents when council members voted to remove a roadway from the city’s master plan in order to secure an open-space easement on the property of Bob Schiess. While Thursday’s hearings drew a substantially smaller crowd, many similar issues arose, especially regarding the Brook Hollow subdivision which lies adjacent to a road slated for extension in the city’s master road plan.

Mark Peterson presented the subdivision, which would divide the five acres on which he lives into four lots, three of the lots would be accessed by 250 West with the fourth, where Peterson currently lives, continuing to be accessed by a gravel driveway off of Hollow Road. Peterson said that the development would be relatively simple, with most of the public infrastructure already in place.

“There really are no public utilities for us to supervise, they’re already in the ground,” Peterson said.

City manager Larry Anhder pointed out that if and when 250 West is expanded to reach Hollow Road, as the general plan calls for, it would pass by the remainder of the third lot and breadth of the fourth. If the funds of that extension are not addressed in this development, Anhder said, the city would be forced to shoulder the burden for that portion of the road.

“Should not this subdivision share the responsibility of developing the road?” Anhder asked.

Ultimately, the council added three conditions of final approval, that the terms of Brook Hollow’s share of the road costs are addressed, that sidewalks be put in along the lots and that existing structures be removed from public utility easements.

Peterson said that depending on the amount that he would have to pay to either extend the road now or pay the city for future development, he would have to divide the properties into smaller areas to allow one more lot.

Peterson was informed by the council that he had the option, as Schiess did, to pursue removing the 250 West extension from the master plan, but Councilman Larry Jacobsen said that he might not be as successful given the different circumstances.

“Bob Schiess was not subdividing,” Jacobsen said.

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