Washington City Council approves water rate increases, hears concerns over subdivisions

The Washington City Council, Washington City, Utah, March 13, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – The Washington City Council approved fee adjustments related to its culinary water system Wednesday evening. It also heard concerns from residents objecting to proposed subdivisions neighboring their own.

As the City Council chamber was temporary unavailable, the City Council met upstairs in a city courtroom.

Water rates

Mike Shaw, Washington City public works director, asked the City Council to approve a resolution to change the way the city currently bills water usage. Currently the city bills water use based on what is called an equivalent residential unit, or ERU. Shaw proposed to adjust the billing for culinary water use based on meter size instead. Billing by meter size is an industry standard, he said.

Shaw said the city’s current base rate for water use is $17.50 monthly, with an additional 90 cents per zero-to-5,000 thousand gallons, plus 10 cents on each 5,000 gallons over that. This represents average residential use. Like utility rates, water rates are tiered and increases with each additional tier of use.

Under the new billing system, homes with 5/8 inch to 3/4 inch meters will have a base rate of $18.25 and a $1 per zero-to-5,000 gallons, plus 10 cents on each 5,000 gallons over that.

In all, Shaw said the change is anticipated to add around $2 a month to a home’s water bill.

City Councilman Ron Truman said the city staff had worked hard with Sunrise Engineering on the water rate adjustments in order to keep the new rates as revenue neutral as possible so the city will not profit from it.

The City Council unanimously passed the rate adjustments.

The new rate schedule is attached here: Washington City Culinary Water Residential Rate Summary Sheet – approved by City Council March 12, 2014

Subdivision concerns

The council approved four preliminary plats for subdivisions and tabled another as its development agreement did not adequately address city staff concerns.

The courtroom-turned-council chambers was packed with residents from subdivisions surrounding the new ones proposed – residents from Silverstone, Northbridge, The Links, and others. They came to express their opposition to any approval of the developments near them due to concerns they will negatively impact their property values and bring in high-density housing.

We don’t want vacation rentals, townhomes, or duplexes,” one of the residents yelled to the council from the gallery.

Jim Raines, the developer, said densities on one of the subdivisions didn’t deviate from what was already in the area. “We’re not proposing anything different from our neighbors,” he said.

Residents were disappointed to learn the zoning to allow the subdivisions had already been approved. Some were angry they hadn’t been notified about public hearings attached to the zone changes before hand.

Washington City residents piled into the courtroom the City Council used to object to proposed subdivisions near their homes, Washington City, Utah, March 13, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Washington City residents piled into the courtroom the City Council used to object to proposed subdivisions near their homes, Washington City, Utah, March 13, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Raines said residents within 300 feet of the developments should have received notices of public hearings regarding the proposed zone change. The 300-foot range is a requirement of Utah law, he said.

Some residents said they live well outside of the 300-foot notification range and were never told about previous public hearing. Others were notified, but also related that notifications were inconsistent.

Public notice for public hearings related to zone changes and other matters are posted on a board in the lobby of the city hall, on the city’s website, on the state’s Public Notice Website, and in an area newspaper, Truman said. The city doesn’t mail out notifications.

As for the direct mail notifications, Raines said they are sent out by the title company that owns the property subject to the public hearing, though the developer covers the cost of the mailed notifications.

City Councilman Thad Seegmiller and Jeff Turek both said a review of how the city handles public notifications may come up as a topic for further discussion before the council after that evening.

“It’s a concern, it’s an issue,” Truman said.

In the end, the City Council approved preliminary plats for the following developments:

  • The Casitas at Sienna Hills, located at approximately 1900 East 1000 North, north of Grapevine Crossing and east of Copperleaf Subdivision
  • The Arroyo At Sienna Hills, located at approximately 1900 East 600 North
  • The Escapes at Sunrise Estates, located at approximately 1300 West 1700 North, at the north end of Concord Parkway
  • The Escapes at Sunrise Villas, located at approximately 1000 West 1900 North, at the north end of Green Springs Drive

A preliminary plat and development agreement for The Escapes at Sunrise Residences, located at approximately 1700 North 1200 West, north of Northbridge Subdivision, was tabled by the City Council and scheduled for review on April 9.

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Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2014 , all rights reserved.


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