Council Says 'No' To Moratorium

Councilmember calls inaction 'improper'

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Mayor Ray Schum gaveled the town council meeting to a close Thursday evening with no action taken on a petition asking for a subdivision and land division moratorium.

After the meeting, councilmember Hoby Herron said the mayor's abrupt action ending the meeting was what he expected.

"It wasn't proper, but the people can still act," Herron said. "They ignored the fact that all they have to get is 400 signatures to put it on the ballot and then all the people can speak."

The petition in question, signed by 1,476 residents, requests a moratorium on new subdivisions and land divisions until an adequate supply of water can be found. It was originally presented to the council Oct. 18, and Herron requested it be placed on the agenda for consideration.

In his remarks introducing the topic, Herron said nobody has yet figured out how to make more water.

"We not only don't know how to make water," Herron said. "We have no idea exactly where it is, how much is there, how long it will take to get it, and how much it will cost to bring it into town."

At the conclusion of his remarks, Herron moved that the town "cease" approving new subdivisions until a new source of water is assured, and that it reduce from 20 to five the number of ERUs that developers can bring into the existing water system rather than providing their own water.

Public Works Director Buzz Walker, one of several town staff members who made presentations on the issue, disputed Herron's remarks and pointed out that town projections are based on the most conservative estimates.

A handout Walker provided with information from the water department's upcoming water status report said the town will continue to be able "to provide groundwater from storage and long-term average natural recharge until around the year 2021.

"This does not mean that the town ... will run out of water by 2021," Walker says in the handout. "The baseline safe yield of 1,826 acre-feet per year would remain."

The handout also made the point that the likely addition of new out-of-town sources and the existence of deeper aquifer systems had not been factored into the 2021 estimate.

Following council statements and comments by six residents in attendance three on each side of the issue Schum announced Herron's motion dead-on-arrival for lack of a second and gaveled the discussion to a close.

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