Ski lake in Hurricane a no-go, concrete plant moves forward

Hurricane City Council, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 7, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

HURRICANE – Zoning changes were the hot topic at the Hurricane City Council meeting Thursday.

Denial of zoning change for ski lake subdivision

Carrying over a discussion from the April 20 meeting, the council finally made a decision on a zoning change for a proposed ski lake subdivision at approximately 920 West, south of 1500 South, which has been a staple in City Council meeting agendas the last few months.

The developers of the proposed subdivision wanted the property rezoned to include a planned development overlay that would have allowed them to construct a ski lake as part of the subdivision.

In the April 20 meeting, City Councilman Kevin Tervort said, in his opinion, the ski lake is a waste of water; while opposed to the ski lake, he said he is OK with the development of new homes on the site.

The City Council agreed with Tervort’s assessment and voted unanimously to deny the zoning change that would have allowed the ski lake.

Tervort said Washington County Water Conservancy District President Ron Thompson told him the amount of water that would be put into the lake would be the equivalent of the water used by 120 homes in a year.

According to statistics cited by Tervort, Hurricane City is now using 77 percent of the water available to it. However, he said, it might not take long for the 23 percent surplus to be used with the amount of building currently going on. To make his point, he said there are 1,000 lots within the city now ready to be built on.

Besides the lake water, Tervort said, it would be a waste to keep pouring water on the proposed subdivision in an attempt to mitigate its potential settling issues.

“When I told Ron Thompson where it is he about fell off his chair,” Tervort said about the issue of potential settling in the collapsible soil of the 84-acre parcel.

Councilwoman Pam Humphries chimed in after Tervort to say that she owns a lot on collapsible soil. She and her husband tried to settle the soil and it didn’t work, she said.

“Anyone who builds there is going to have a problem,” Humphries said.

Councilman Darin Larson said the projects on collapsible soil always create a quandary.

“No matter what goes in there, there will be issues with settling,” Larson said. “The lake makes that worse.”

When Mayor John Bramall first asked for a motion, no council member responded immediately; then Councilman Kevin Thomas made a motion to deny the zoning change and Humphries seconded it. But then the council allowed two representatives of the project as well as two residents against the project to speak before a vote.

Resident Keith Buswell, representing Dave Wadman, the current owner of the property, said the development would be high quality and an asset to the community. Cody Larkin, a representative of the developers, said he had worked on three previous similar subdivisions and said that the water used for the proposed ski lake would be similar to that used by the pivot currently on the property.

The location of a controversial proposed ski lake subdivision at approximately 920 West 1500 South in Hurricane, Utah, April 21, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

“We wouldn’t invest millions and millions if it were going to settle,” Larkin said.

John Nielson owns a home and property bordering the proposed development and was one of eight residents to voice concerns at the last meeting. He acknowledged that development is inevitable but said his biggest concern is the ski lake.

Other developers who have developed in the area told Nielson that they did everything possible to avoid settling but settling still occurred, he said.

“Many times engineers say it will work and it doesn’t,” Nielson said of the settling potential.

It might take up to a year and a half to enable the land to settle sufficiently, Nielson said. Another issue he brought up is the chance for lawsuits, saying that the potential homeowners in the new subdivision would have the resources to sue, whereas the homeowners in Rainbow Canyon, a nearby development that suffered through significant settling, do not.

Future resident Arthur Engeness came to voice his major concern: boat noise.

“These boats are noisy,” Engeness said. “Airplanes flying above are nothing compared to the boats.”

By denying the zoning change that would allow for the ski lake, the City Council sent a signal that it is OK with the development but not the lake.

Report continues below.

Change of zoning for concrete batch plant

Another carryover from the last meeting, the City Council approved a zoning change from M-1, light industrial, to M-2, heavy industrial, for Pride Rock, a concrete contractor whose plant is located at 188 N. Old Highway 91. 

The approval is contingent upon Pride Rock meeting certain requirements, such as emission standards, and also producing a document with specifics on how the cement batch plant will run a clean operation. If Pride Rock does not meet the requirements, the zoning reverts back to light industrial.

Dave Stewart, part owner of Pride Rock, assured the council the company would meet its requirements. His plant will be a “showpiece,” Stewart said, and people will be able to wear their Sunday clothes to the plant and not get dirty.

“I know what it takes to operate a successful batch plant,” Stewart said.

Jay Crosby, who owns land near Pride Rock in the industrial park, isn’t convinced Pride Rock will hold up to its end of the deal.

“I’m a skeptic and don’t see significant improvement,” Crosby said, adding that the city would make a mistake to approve it and that it degrades the industrial park.

Thomas motioned to approve the zoning change but said the city needs to see a detailed development agreement later. The zoning changed passed 4-1 with Councilwoman Pam Humphries as the lone dissenter.

Valley Academy 5th grade teacher Charlotte Potter (left) watches as a few of her students tell the Hurricane City Council about the service project they would like to complete, Hurricane, Utah, May 4, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Fifth grade service project

Valley Academy fifth grade teacher Charlotte Potter brought a small contingent of her students to present their idea about a service project to the council. Inspired by a recent story they read in class, the fifth graders decided they wanted to do something for the community.

They came up with several options on which to vote, including planting trees, helping the elderly, donating food to a community shelter, improving cages at the animal shelter and picking up litter. Litter removal won.

The students told the council they had identified three places they thought would be good for picking up trash – Stout Park, Grandpa’s Pond and Wal-Mart – and asked which one the council thought would be best. The City Council said Stout Park would be the best option. It’s also best logistically for the students as it is closer to Valley Academy than the other options.

Mayor John Bramall said the city will donate large, heavy-duty trash bags towards the students’ project.

“It’s great to see younger generation making a difference,” City Manager Clark Fawcett said.

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  • DRT May 5, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    It seems to me, that the city is going to leave themselves open to major problems. They have been warned that the land is unstable, and is going to settle, yet they are apparently going to give the green light to the developer to go ahead with the subdivision.
    I forsee lawsuits and bad times ahead for Hurricane City if they go through with allowing it.

  • DRT May 5, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    I forgot to add that I would hope the residents of Rainbow Canyon are able to find a way to sue both the city, and the developer for recompense for their losses. I’m betting if they look hard enough, they will find an attorney to take their case on a contingency basis. Or possibly even pro bono.

  • old school May 5, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Collapsible soil, you kidding me??? What kind of responsible city government authorizes building on collapsible soil? The kind that sides with greedy crooked developers I guess!!! What EVERYBODY Needs to do is write their Congressman to pitch for some kind of “Accountability Act”! Or better yet MARCH, since that’s so popular these days. These are families futures were talking about! Tell whoever owns the land to buy some cow’s!!!

  • Caveat_Emptor May 6, 2017 at 9:40 am

    There are numerous subdivisions that have been approved within Utah in the past fifteen years that have known geologic stability issues. Whether you are up north in: Weber/Morgan County, Davis, Salt Lake, or Utah County, where landslides happen or down here in: Iron, or Washington County, where soils can be expansive or collapsible, lots of houses were built on unstable soils. You will likely have next to no chance of recovering a judgement against a municipality that approved these subdivisions. Nowadays, even here in Utah, new building permit applications will require that a geotech firm has assessed and approved the foundation design to meet the underlying soil conditions. Good luck trying to recover against a faulty technical assessment, because the reports are typically worded to avoid strict liability. Production home builders do the absolute bare minimum soil preparation before they build tracts of cookie cutter houses. Think about the subdivisions sprouting along Washington Fields Road, for example, or even Dixie Springs.
    In Utah, you are “on your own”…………..

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