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Wellsville skeptical about south corridor planning group, joins to ensure they have a say

October 22nd, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Storee Powell

WELLSVILLE–The City Council reluctantly agreed Wednesday to participate in the South Corridor Planning Group, which will create a development plan along the U.S. Highway 89-91 corridor of southern Cache Valley on about 6,500 acres of public and private lands.

The proposal for the planning group was presented to the Wellsville council by Logan’s community development director, Jay Nielson. He said the group would consist of Cache County, Logan, Nibley, Wellsville and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).

According to the proposal, the objective is to have a plan that creates a design for transportation, directs new growth that is specific to future land uses including preservation, commercial development and residential development, and includes that participation of the government entities in the plan’s area.

Currently, the boundaries are not defined precisely in the proposal. Nielson said this will be done with the communities after a consultant is hired.

Nielson said there is $120,000 available that will be used to hire a planning consultant. He said Logan, UDOT, Utah State University, Cache County and some of the area’s trucking industries have contributed money. He said Wellsville will not be asked to provide finances to the effort because they have already contributed by putting together a general plan for that whole area they use now.

“I’m not here to ask for money, but your participation,” Nielson said. “This is intended to bring together some real planning expertise to go out into the communities and find out what they want in their area, and put together a unified plan.”

The plan is to get a Wellsville council member and the mayor to work on this planning group, Nielson said. They would be asked to attend four or five meetings to help watch over the project.

Councilman Carl Leatham had reservations about agreeing to the plan. “Logan is looking to insure the preservation of the corridor, but are they doing it for the actual preservation of the corridor or to protect their business district in Logan so that no one else will build along there?”

Nielson said that was not the intention of Logan city, but they want to preserve it for “openness.”

According to the proposal, the plan would be used as a guide for development for the next 50 years.

“This is intended to be more than just some whimsical thing. While Logan wants to get some limited development to occur they really want to get more preservation on that highway,” Nielson said. “The proposal says it is a 50-year plan because we ought to be looking much further in the future than a few years. If we can get some agreement on some basic things it will help everybody.”

Councilman Ron Case said he is concerned about the 50-year idea. “When this original plan was put together seven years ago, it had a 15-year timeline, and now we are projecting 50 years. I don’t want an assumption to be made that by going along with this, we are in agreement that it will be renewed. I voted against it originally because I didn’t want Wellsville to give up control since we had a plan that was taking care of this.”

Councilman Jackie Orton said he was concerned Wellsville would lose their independence and own thinking on developing the corridor and asked what would happen if Wellsville does not participate.

Nielson said Logan will do its own plan to try to make the corridor better over time.

“Nothing in this plan says there will be a blood-relationship between communities. It doesn’t even say there will be an agreement, but that we will go find out what people want to do in their community and it will become part of an overall plan,” Nielson said. “You’ll benefit from having the planning consultants to help you design your commercial and industrial area.”

Councilman Gary Bates said if Wellsville does not participate, they will lose the opportunity to influence the county and Nibley, and to make a persuasive argument.

The expectation, Nielson said, is not for the communities to come to a complete consensus. Rather, the consultants will go work in the communities to find what they want. Then, the consultants will come together with the Contract Management Team and Project Steering Community and put the plan together.

“I believe one of the benefits to Wellsville is that you get a much more detailed development plan for your commercial and industrial area for which we’ve put a few roads on the map,” Nielson said.

Mayor Thomas Bailey said his concern is that Wellsville is the biggest stakeholder because they have stewardship over the whole canyon coming into southern Cache County. “Where do we get the money to preserve this land? And who compensates the people for land we won’t let them use?” Bailey said.

The land area covered in the plan, including private land, is up for potential preservation. Private land dubbed as preserved would then be rendered unusable in a commercial way for property owners.

Nielson said, “I will be the first to admit that this has the potential to come unraveled, but if there is a specific outcome of this, it would be that everybody revises their own general plans to be consistent with overall plan. There won’t be a signed document that says you have to do that, however.”

Case said the council will go along with the plan, but does so skeptically.

Bailey said, “I think we’d be silly to not be in on the planning part of it because I don’t think we want to sit here and let Nibley and Logan and the county do all this planning and we wish we had some say in it.”


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