FARMINGTON—The rights of property owners clashed with a desire for open space at a meeting of the Farmington City Council last week.
And to complicate matters, the issue of building near fault lines, on slopes and through a firebreak road came into consideration as well.
The city council was presented with a proposal to annex 20.2 acres of property that would be developed into large homes by Jerry Preston, managing partner of Elite Craft Homes.
“Every ‘i’ will be dotted and every ‘t’ will be crossed, guaranteed,” said Preston, in his request to the council. “I’ve been in the building business for 42 years and I’ve never had any project that we have microscoped more than this site.”
Several geotechnical studies have been performed and reviewed by experts, and Preston welcomes their findings and said they would be used to “beef up road structures” where necessary and “build around” fault lines.
“We do things better today,” he said of construction techniques.
Residents near the development testified on both sides of the issue. Even those opposed to the development expressed friendship and confidence in Preston, but said the land would be better dedicated to open space and trails.
Alisa Crowell said she is working with individuals and companies concerned about the development, to raise money to purchase the land to keep it in open space.
COMPASS Farmington, she told the Clipper, stands for Community Organization Making Parks and Spaces Suitable, and is working for tax exempt status, preparing a website and planning a gala fundraiser to raise money toward a land purchase. They are setting up a Facebook page at Compass Farmington to generate interest.
“It might be shooting for the moon,” she said, “but if the opportunity is there, we want to see what we can do.”
Her family moved to the area because they love the mountains and love living in an area with a rural feel that’s close to city amenities. “It’s the best of both worlds,” she said.
“We want to try to buy the land and make it into a biking and nature park,” she added. “We want to make it a huge community deal.”
Council members seemed mixed on whether to accept the annexation proposal or not.
“This property has always been part of our master plan,” said Cory Ritz, a council member, “based on that alone we should annex this property into Farmington. The possibility of a group that will purchase the land from Jerry as a willing seller is great, but I don’t think it’s in the plans for the city to develop.”
The city has acquired 55 to 60 acres elsewhere in the city and has made a commitment to develop them, he said.
“Granted there’s value to nature trails to be left in a natural state,” he said, “but very few would actually be able to utilize that type of a use and I don’t think it would be money well spent by the city to invest in a property that only a very few are going to actively use.”
Doug Anderson, also a council member, said he leaned a lot on his emotions when making decisions. He said he spent a recent Saturday hiking the snowy trails on the bench with his kids and is torn about potential development there.
Council member Brigham Mellor said he was primarily concerned about safety, slope issues and fire concerns.
“There are a lot of factors to take into account, property rights being one of the larger elements,” he said, “but my primary concern is the safety and on top of that is the risk.”
Several council members were concerned that if they did vote to annex the land, they would not have another chance to approve the preliminary plat.
Preston volunteered to delay his request for annexation until the plat was prepared and the council agreed to look at the issue again in the future.