Commission hears from residents on proposed paving project, continues push to merge fire district

A New Harmony resident speaks at the Washington County Commission meeting in opposition to the creation of a proposed special assessment area that would help fund the paving of Harmony Heights Road in New Harmony, March 19, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Property owners from New Harmony spoke for and against a proposed road project during a meeting of the Washington County Commission Tuesday that would collectively cost some residents from the small community over $381,000 in property tax liens.

The commission also continued the gradual push merging the Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District into the Hurricane Valley Fire District by approving the appointments of new members from both towns to the latter district’s governing board.

Harmony Heights Road paving project

Harmony Heights Road in New Harmony was described as both a gravel and dirt road in need of improvements during the public hearing Tuesday.

The county plans to create a “special assessment area” in the Harmony Heights subdivision for the purpose of providing funding for the paving of the road to the amount of $381,350.

Within the special assessment area are 45 properties that will have liens applied to them to fund the project. Property lots along the road will be assessed at $8,474 while lots not alongside the roadside but that still have access to the road will be assessed at $4,237.

The area within the red box marks the general location of the proposed special assessment area that would fund the paving of Harmony Heights Road in New Harmony. | Map courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke said the liens would appear on the property owners’ tax bills and could be paid immediately or over a span of 10 years.

The county plans to run a 3-inch layer of asphalt on the road for 9,560 feet with a width of 24 feet.

A handful of New Harmony residents spoke for and against the paving project.

Peter Rolly, a New Harmony resident of 19 years, said the issue had “divided the community” and wanted more details about the project in writing. He also expressed concerns about having liens on the property if he ever tries to sell it. He suggested the liens be something that transferred to the new property owners when sold.

Rolly added that he likes the rural feel of the community and felt paving the road would detract from that.

Another New Harmony resident, a man who said he has lived there eight years, spoke in favor of the project. The current condition of the road was less than favorable due to ruts and potholes, he said.

“I would appreciate that road being paved, and more than me, my sedan would appreciate the road being paved,” the man said.

New Harmony residents and property owners within the proposed assessment zone now have through May 20 to protest the creation of the special assessment zone. If 40 percent of the property owners within the proposed area protest the issue, the commission cannot go forward with it, Clarke said.

In order to protest the issue, a property owner must send their protest in writing to the County Clerk’s Office by 5 p.m. May 20. The property owner must include their name and identify the lots they own within the proposed area and simply state they are opposed to it. They do not need to give a reason why, Clarke said.

If the 40 percent protest threshold is not met, then the County Commission has 15 days to move on the creation of the special assessment area.

The creation of a special improvement district for the improvement of the road was originally proposed in 2005 but didn’t go much further than that. The issue came up again in 2017 with a straw poll showing a majority of residents in favor of paying for the project.

Appointing new board members

Dan McQuire, a former mayor of Rockville, and Randy Aton, a current member of the Springdale Town Council, were appointed to the Hurricane Valley Fire District.

The move continues a push by the Washington County Commission for merge the Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District into the Hurricane Valley Fire District. They commission voted the merge the two district earlier this year.

Read more about discussion of the issue here: County Commission votes to merge Rockville-Springdale, Hurricane Valley fire districts

The Rockville-Springdale district will cease to exist as a separate entity by the end of the year.

In other business, the commission held a public hearing concerning the issuance of bonds to help pay for a new fire engine for the Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District. The new fire engine will run $596,000. The commission will vote on the measure in an upcoming meeting.


Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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