The Star Valley committee that spent a year working on a draft of the town’s general plan, got an earful from residents Tuesday night who demanded the town scrap plans to build ATV trails in their back yards.
Some residents said they had been worried sick for months that the town would put a noisy, high-traffic trail through their neighborhood, which was designed to be a quiet retreat.
One woman said installing a trail “would take something wonderful and destroy it.”
In the end, the committee removed a wayward line that was supposed to illustrate an ATV trail through the Knolls subdivision and wording suggesting the committee wanted to build a road to connect Union Park Drive and Highway 260, since Union Park Drive dead ends on a hill.
This is the first time the general plan committee has met to discuss the draft in more than a year. The general plan draft was first released in March 2008.
Completion of the plan was put on hold until the hydrology firm LFR, Inc. finished a water study. In April, LFR released study results and the Water and Sewer Commission began rewriting the water and growth chapters.
On Tuesday, the committee met to discuss those changes and address public concerns.
Peter Armenta, community development director with Central Arizona Association of Governments, tried to pacify heated moments at the meeting by telling residents the plan included “broad strokes” that are not set in stone. When the committee originally drew the proposed ATV trails on a circulation map, they did so without proper topography.
Armenta suggested the committee study the maps, determine where they should put trails and reconvene in several weeks. However, residents strongly urged the committee to make their suggested changes immediately.
“We are losing sight that this is a general outline,” said committee member Ray Lyons.
The committee ultimately decided the section on circulation was too specific anyway, so they removed the proposed trail and asked Armenta to rewrite the section as well as the plans to connect Latigo Lane and Union Park Drive to Highway 260. Regardless of where the roads are placed, the town needs to create roads north and south of Highway 260 so residents can get out during flooding or a forest fire, Lyons said.
“Circulation has to be somewhere, just not in my backyard,” said committee member Glen McCombs.
Armenta said he would make the changes and reconvene the committee in late September or early October.
Water and Sewer
Concerning utilities like water and sewer, the committee agreed the town needs a wastewater treatment plant and additional water resources.
According to the LFR study, the town’s existing water suppliers, including Brooke Utilities and private well owners, adequately support the current population and an increase of nearly 2,000 residents. However, an increase in residents will “put a strain on the supply in times of drought.”
“The town will need to acquire these water resources in the next seven to 20 years,” according to the study.
In the general plan, the committee recommends the town acquire Brooke and its distribution system to get water from the CC Cragin Reservoir (Blue Ridge pipeline) or form a water improvement district.
“We can’t do anything without long-term water treatment facilities,” said Mayor Bill Rappaport.
Because most of the town is on septic systems that will eventually fail, and the only treatment plant is already failing, the town needs to find a solution. The Water and Sewer Commission suggested the town has three options:
• Do nothing and deal with impending failures of septic systems. Restrict growth of residential development and commercial businesses and deal with contaminated water due to failed septic systems.
• Form a sanitary district and build a collection system and treatment plant.
• Work with the Northern Gila County Sanitary District to annex portions of town that need improved waste treatment.
Former mayor Chuck Heron questioned why the plan included a lengthy report describing how septic tanks fail in mountain towns like Star Valley. When tanks fail, waste percolates into the ground, which causes the groundwater to stink and foam.
“This sounds like a thesis” and is not in general language, Heron said.
Councilor Vern Leis said it is background information. Armenta suggested moving it out of the chapter’s introduction and into the existing conditions section. Heron agreed.