Council approves controversial subdivision plat with conditions

Lori Perry, a member of the Ashdown Forest Homeowner's Association, addresses the Cedar City Council about her concerns for the safety of the children if a new phase of the subdivision's development is allowed to be built, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 14, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – The Cedar City Council approved a subdivision plat for a developer but only if he can work out ongoing issues with the surrounding homeowners within a year’s time, otherwise he’ll have to start the entire process over.

The Council voted Wednesday to approve a subdivision plat for phase nine in Ashdown Forest pending the developer’s ability to create two routes of access into the development. However, current residents of the same subdivision have hired an attorney to stop developer Dave Smith from moving ahead with his plans.

A subdivision plat is a map, drawn to scale, showing the division of the property with streets and alleys and often topographic and vegetation information. The plat also provides legal descriptions of the blocks and lot-numbers .

The proposed subdivision is platted for 80 to 90 homes, which under Utah law requires two access routes in and out of the area, City Attorney Tyler Romeril said.

One of the access routes currently planned is via Bridgewater Street, which is privately owned by Ashdown Forest Homeowner’s Association and is opposed to the new development.

The homeowner’s association has fenced the street off at the end of it where it meets Smith’s undeveloped property.

The developer needs the homeowner’s association to give him access. Otherwise, Smith will have to purchase property belonging to someone else, which could be costly, Romeril said.

Smith is not the original owner of the property but received it from Fiddler’s Canyon Development, which had the right to develop the land as part of Ashdown Forest subdivision. However, that right was lost when it was deeded to the new developer, Romeril said.

Smith maintains he received permission from Fiddler’s Canyon Development to add the property into Ashdown Forest Subdivision, but he has not yet provided proof of that arrangement to the city, City Manager Paul Bittmenn said.

“I have not seen any legal documentation showing that Fiddler’s Canyon gave him that right when they deeded it over to him,” Bittmenn said. “So for now, since he is not the original owner he cannot add property into a subdivision he didn’t originally develop.”

Members of the homeowner’s association requested the Council not approve Smith’s subdivision plat map, arguing the development would cost them more money for such things as road maintenance and they don’t want the additional expenses.

Increased traffic was also a concern for homeowners who said the neighborhood had many small children whose safety would be at risk with more cars on the road.

Councilman Fred Rowley immediately shot down that argument stating traffic is an issue everywhere regardless of the area.

You understand this man has the right to develop his own property, right,” Rowley said.

The attorney for the homeowner’s association, Carson Bagley from St. George, told the Council residents living near the proposed development area did not know the property would be developed when they purchased their properties and homes.

“The homeowners that live next to the property were told it was supposed to remain open space,” Bagley said. “They didn’t know that there were plans to develop it.”

However, the property was always intended for development, Romeril said.

Councilwoman Terri Hartley said she believes the residents knew it was going to be developed before making any purchase.

“You can’t tell me they didn’t know,” Hartley said. “They would’ve seen the plans for the entire Ashdown Forest subdivision and they would have known that that area was going to be developed in the future.”

Besides approving the plat, the Council made clear that the issue between Smith and the homeowners is a private civil matter the two parties should work out.

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Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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