Draft Road Plan Upsets Neighborhood

Pine Ridge residents criticize general plan map suggesting extension of Union Park Drive

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Don’t wreck our neighborhood — or else.

That’s the message Pine Ridge Homeowners Association President Brad Jones delivered to the Star Valley council on Tuesday, after homeowners learned of a tentative, long-term plan to connect a quiet, dead-end street to Moonlight Drive.

The homeowners drafted a letter Oct. 20 protesting a suggestion that Union Park Drive someday be extended to Moonlight Drive that was included in a draft copy of the town’s still evolving general plan.

The plan itself must undergo a series of hearings. Moreover, even if the road extension remained in the plan, towns often don’t actually build such extensions unless a new development provides the money. No developments are currently planned along the path of the proposed extension.

However, the proposed extension of several streets to give residents another way out to the highway would “seriously degrade the quality of our lives and eliminate the very reasons many of us located our homes in the area of Pine Ridge,” concluded the Oct. 20 letter to the council.

Jones said the map in the draft version of the traffic element of the general plan showed Union Park Drive extending over the top of a ridge, descending to cross a creek, then climbing back up to Moonlight Drive. The extension would enable residents to get out of the neighborhood by driving less than a half-mile to Moonlight instead of about 1.5 miles through the Knolls to the highway.

However, residents were unanimous in opposing the road extension, fearing it would cause an increase in noise and traffic in a quiet neighborhood with homes perched on the slope of a long ridge. The neighborhood mobilized after reading a series of articles in the Roundup describing the draft general plan.

“I can only apologize for not having been involved in the planning process up until now,” said Jones. “But there’s no time like now to start.”

Mayor Chuck Heron said homeowners should not worry about the details of the traffic circulation in the draft general plan because it all might change “five or six times.”

A consultant and several citizen groups worked on the draft plan for more than a year, and had originally planned to hold hearings on it this month. However, the town postponed hearings on the plan to await the outcome of an ongoing study on the town’s water supply.

“It was premature of the Roundup to present this,” said Heron of the plan that had been approved by the committee, but not yet reviewed in public hearings or adopted by the council. “It’s not even done for public comment until December. It is very, very premature.”

Heron added: “We’re awaiting our water study. You guys got a sneak preview.”

Jones noted that residents were glad they had notice of the plan, even in draft form. “People living in Union Park border on emotional,” said Jones, in dry understatement.

“This was way premature,” repeated Heron.

“On the other hand…” began Jones.

“I want to stop this discussion,” interjected Heron.

Jones made his comments during the public comment portion of the meeting. The state’s open meeting law prevents the council from making decisions or even having extended discussions of any issue not listed on the published agenda — including topics raised during the meeting.

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