‘Let us take the time’: Ivins sets development of a new reservoir on its own terms

IVINS — Water, or the lack of it, was on Thursday’s agenda for the Ivins City Council as the council approved a procedure to search for an area to place a new reservoir and also approved a procedural water rate hike.

Ivins City Council member Cheyne McDonald seen during the council’s July, 1, 2021 meeting at Ivins City Hall. Ivins, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The council voted 3-1, with council member Jenny Johnson having left the meeting early, to approve a six-month halt to prohibit new development or construction in an area of the city that can potentially used to build a new reservoir.

Council member Sue Gordhammer was the one “no” vote, with members Dennis Mehr, Cheyne McDonald and Derek Larsen voting in the affirmative.

City officials said the moratorium would serve two functions: To save the space for a reservoir the Washington County Water Conservancy District is seeking to build in the area and to give some more time to find suitable boundaries for a reservoir. 

There was a fear under Gov. Spencer Cox’s emergency drought order,  according to City Manager Dale Coulam that the district could immediately use condemnation proceedings and eminent domain to immediately take possession of land in the area and start construction of a dam and reservoir. 

“We’re preventing that for six months,” Mayor Chris Hart told St. George News, adding that ultimately the city and its residents can have a say in where the reservoir goes. “We can have a third discussion about where the appropriate location to make the best decision on that. And then let the district move forward.”

The two areas designated in the ordinance are both in empty land between Old Highway 91 to the west, Kwavasa Drive to the east and Center Drive to the south – directly south of Kayenta.  

A chart showing the water rate increases in Ivins as of July 1, 2021. | Photo courtesy Ivins City | Click to enlarge

During the meeting, Ivins resident Terry Marten, the developer of Kayenta, told the council that the city needed to have a say, rather than just let the district come in and build solely on their terms. 

“We get in such a hurry to make decisions. Let us to take the time and not just be susceptible to predator development,” Marten said. 

Also on the subject of water, the council unanimously approved a 10 cents rate drinkable water rate increase per 1,000 gallons of water that had already been mandated by the water district. Ivins residents will see a $1.87 increase to their base rate. 

It’s automatic. We just pass it along,” Hart said. 

Council gets look at special tax district for resort

Also during Thursday’s meeting,  the council got a look at a draft to create a special property tax district for the under-construction Black Desert Resort at Entrada.

Representation from 2020 of the shops and restaurants area planned for the Black Desert Resort at Entrada. Ivins City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Black Desert Resort at Entrada, St. George News

The council had previously rejected setting up a community reinvestment area (CRA) for the resort that would have provided $5 million in city assistance to the project, which will include residences, hotel rooms and a restaurant district. 

The draft, which can be read here, separates on its own a proposal to have residents of the new resort pay an additional property tax levy that would go toward the development of the resort. Only residents of the resort would pay the additional tax. 

Known as a public improvement district, it would also allow the city to issue bonds that could be paid off with the additional taxes.  

The draft was provided to the council, Coulam said. To allow them and the public to become familiar with it. 

“It’s a very important document so we didn’t want to rush it,” Coulam said.

There will be a public hearing and consideration of passage of the proposal at the council’s next hearing on July 15.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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