Volume 104, Number 48 - November 29, 2007
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BloomField passes first annex vote
About half a dozen people attended Monday’s Town Council meeting prepared to speak out against the proposed BloomField Subdivision. Yet after the three Council members present listened to opinions voiced at the meeting’s public hearing over the development, they still passed the first reading to annex the subdivision.
The current subdivision plans, as created by developer Matt Harber, are comprised of 926 residential units spanning 237 acres just north of town, and would include a mobile home park, an RV park, apartments, condos and single family homes.
One woman who preferred not to give her name complained that her home fronts the future location of a BloomField access, and asked that the access be changed to prevent traffic inundating her area.
More importantly, she added, the current size of the planned subdivision is needlessly “enormous,” and should be cut in half “at minimum.”
Sharlyn Geddes, who lives in the same area, agreed.
“We bought homes up there to have a little bit of space, and to look down and see 900 homes is not appealing to us,” Geddes said.
Harber insisted that subdivision covenants, which would be enforced by a private property management company, would create a picturesque development.
“I don’t think this will be the sort of thing where people will look down and say, ‘look at that crap hole they call the BloomField,’” Harber said, adding that like it or not, new residents will continue pouring into town, and the community should prepare for the inevitable growth if it wants to maintain it years down the road.
“I doubt the people on Orcutt look down at Pinedale and think, ‘Oh, geez, what a mess,’” Harber continued. “With the proper planning, this will be something people can be very proud of and will want to live there.” Although Mayor Steve Smith was excused from the meeting and Council member David Hohl was absent, Council member Gary Heuck stepped up to analyze the plans, particularly to question the necessity of an RV park, which he has heard complaints about from people who fear the park’s effect on town aesthetics.
Harber reminded the Council that the subdivision is intended to offer a range of housing units to accommodate a variety of incomes, and the RV park would provide a starting point for low-income residents who would later upgrade as their incomes allowed. Harber assured again that strict covenants would require clean lawns, indoor storage and managed pets.
“I’m sure it will look a lot nicer than the WYDOT building in front of it,” Harber said. “For as many people who are opposed to it, there are more people who want it, because they need a place to live.”
Heuck said he had only heard opposition,and Harber conceded that if the town proves adamant enough against the park, they can always “scrap it.”
Jeffrey Jacquet, local socioeconomic analyst who has conducted growth and impact studies across the county, made the only strong support for the development at the meeting.
Harber’s work with BloomField stands out from other proposed developments, Jacquet said, because of his careful planning, which will adjust zoning as population trends require. “The main thing is they planned this for up to a 10-to-15 year period — that’s a long time,” Jacquet said. “If the market isn’t there, the units won’t get built.”
Most residents in town have attended the many public forums Harber has held to discuss his plans and hear feedback, Jacquet pointed out, which isn’t common.
“At least with this plan, this won’t get built overnight by an out-of-county developer in a location we don’t like,” he said. Paul Rock, chairman of the Planning and Zoning board who attended the meeting, objected. “People might disagree with just about everything you just said,” Rock told Jacquet. Rock primarily questioned whether Harber had considered the additional traffic that the subdivision would create.
Harber agreed the concern is valid, but said the development will have multiple accesses, including three off of Ehman Lane, as well as several connections to the Split Diamond Meadows and Trails Creek subdivisions. He also hoped that all surrounding subdivisions would have direct access to the school property in BloomField, which the school board has yet to decide to build as an elementary school or high school.
Harber also predicted businesses on Pine Street will move into the BloomField, so people living in the subdivision will also work there, reducing commuter traffic. Council members passed the first reading 3-0 with the agreement that specifics about units and accesses could be changed in future readings.
“I think this project has a lot of potential, and we just need to make sure we address everybody’s concerns,” said Council member Chris House.
In other Town Council news:
— Jeffrey Jacquet presented findings from a children survey that the Sublette Community Partnership administered to parents across the county. The 119 parents who filled out the survey reported great need for more summer programs, as well as daycare and after-school care, Jacquet said.
— The Council approved funding for a fiscal impact analysis by TischlerBise, a consulting firm based in Maryland. The study will cost $78,000, which Heuck found excessive. “It seems like we’re paying more on studies than we are on paving our streets,” he muttered before voting against the motion. Other Council members justified that the town would be unable to impose more impact fees without “reasonable basis” provided by the study.
—The Council passed third and final readings of Ordinance 428, annexing adjacent and contiguous land of the Split Diamond Development, and Ordinance 429, amending apartment requirements to prohibit apartment buildings from also containing motel units. The Council also passed third and final readings of Ordinance 430, amending the definition of “motel,” as a facility with rental units accessible via an adjoining parking lot, and Ordinance 431, creating the definition of “hotel” as a facility with onsite housekeeping, front desk management and custodial services.
The next Town Council meeting is on Dec. 3.
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