On Nov. 15 Amy Rackham with Sage Grove Assisted Living, formerly known as Great Oaks Landholdings, visited the Rigby City Council to see if the city can do anything to help Sage Grove and its requirement to connect to city utilities if wanting to expand. In response the city council said they don’t have a “dog in the fight,” and that she needs to reintroduce the plan to the county.

Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Administrator Kevin Hathaway disagreed with the city’s response, indicating that Sage Grove is in the Area of Impact therefore the city does have a dog in the fight and that it is in fact in its best interest to connect its utilities.

“If the city doesn’t have that in place (utilities), then the city is strangled,” he said. “We’re (county) just enforcing what they (city) asked us to enforce.”

Rigby Mayor Jason Richardson told The Jefferson Star Dec. 3 that the city wasn't opposed to the establishment connecting to the city utilities they simply don't want to be the ones covering the costs to do so.

Likewise, he explained that when the council said they don't have a dog in the fight, they meant the county's decision is final and that the city cannot change it because the county manages the Area of Impact. 

Hathaway said the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission ultimately came to their decision for the safety of future residents of the building and that it would be “good” to have the subdivision tie onto the city’s utilities.

In 2012 the commission approved the preliminary plat on a few conditions: roads need to be constructed entirely on applicant’s property and meet Jefferson County road specifications; the plat needs to state that the lots will be served with city water and sewer and fire hydrants will be placed in the subdivision.

Hathaway said a major component of the commission’s decision was the size of the proposed structure (8,000 square-feet) and the ability for fire suppression. He said with an individual well system the amount of water and, or the pressure of the well may not be sufficient enough for suppression. By connecting to a city waterline the pressure would be sufficient.

Likewise, he said the establishment needs sewer because it is a high density development and there are numerous houses that surround the lot.

After receiving a variance for width of easement for the establishment in April of 2013 the city informed Great Oaks Landholdings that the city’s municipal water and sewer system would be capable to serve the new retirement nursing home facility. The conditional concurrence was subject to the installation of meter and other required equipment and ITD permits to be paid by the developer.

A month later the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners approved the final plat.

On May 4, 2017 the establishment sought a plat amendment to relieve financial hardship from the public water and sewer system by allowing a private well and septic system. This request however was denied due to the close proximity of Rigby sewer and water and that nothing has changed since the plat’s original approval.

According to a letter sent from Hathaway—prior to the meeting— while still working as the planning administrator for the city in April of 2017, to the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission, an agreement was made and noted on the plat and the intention was always to connect to city utility infrastructure.

“The city was contacted earlier this year about annexing the development property in the city. We believed that was still the plan, until we became aware of the developer seeking plat amendment to put in their own well and sewer systems,” the letter states. “There are concerns with the proposed plan, and the city would oppose that plan based on those concerns.”

The city’s concerns at the time include: the original plat was approved based on facilities connecting to city utilities; the development area will probably be annexed into the city soon and they would be non-compliant with their private well and sewer system, to the city requirements, leading to an additional expense to the developer; and the development is in the current Area of Impact for the city.

“One of the purposes for an area of impact is to provide for a smooth transition from county into city infrastructure,” the letter states. “To allow this request would be contrary to those goals.”

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners unanimously decided to uphold the planning and zoning commission’s decision to deny the plat amendment on June 12, 2017. During that meeting former Planning and Zoning Administrator Naysha Foster said it would cost the establishment about $280,000 to connect to city utilities, contrary to the $340,000 estimate presented at the Nov. 15 meeting.

Hathaway told The Jefferson Star Nov. 29 that he is unsure on how the estimates were developed indicating that it is 1,200-feet from Hailey Creek Subdivision that is connected to city utilities. He said a couple years ago it cost $30 per-foot, equaling $36,000. Therefore even if it were $100 per-foot, it’s still cheaper than prices presented.

Rigby Public Works Director Mitch Bradley told The Jefferson Star Dec. 3 that the more realistic rough cost estimate is $123,964.

He said based on the city's last Local Improvement District, a 1,700-foot eight-inch sewer line would cost approximately $65,450, a 1,200 foot waterline would cost roughly $41,400 that doesn't include extra bedding, two fire hydrants equate to $9,674 and four water valves would be a $7,440 expense. 

The $123,964 estimate also doesn't include molding and boring costs.  

After being approved by the planning and zoning commission, the plat was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.

According to minutes from the Dec. 18, 2012 city council meeting, the council unanimously approved Oaks Development connecting onto the city’s water and sewer services conditional upon the acceptance of a development agreement between the city and developer. A month after the meeting, City Attorney Robin Dunn indicated that the agreement starts with the county and then comes to the city.

A development agreement was in fact drafted between Great Oaks Landholdings and Jefferson County; however the copy in the file is unsigned.

The conditions of approval outlined in the agreement included the roads within the subdivision will be built to the Jefferson County adopted standards and the road will be built before any building permits would be issued or the developer may submit a surety bond, cash deposit, or certified check equaling 110 percent of the infrastructure costs; the lots will be served by city utilities; and fire hydrants would be placed in subdivision as recommended by the Central Fire District.

The Jefferson Star submitted a records request to County Clerk Colleen Poole Nov. 30 asking for a signed copy of the document, although one was not found. City Clerk Dave Swager told The Jefferson Star Nov. 29 that the city does not have a signed copy either.

Hathaway indicated that even without a signed development agreement, the Area of Impact agreement and plat agreement are sufficient enough to uphold the planning and zoning commission’s decision requiring Sage Grove to connect to city utilities. He alluded to a segment of the plat agreement which states the city has agreed in writing to serve the establishment.

“We also certify that the lots shown on this plat are eligible and will receive water from the City of Rigby Water Department and said City has agreed in writing to serve said lots,” the plat agreement states.

Rackham told The Jefferson Star Dec. 3 that she has been in contact with Hathaway since the city council meeting and will have a better idea on what they intend to do in the coming weeks. 

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