Coalville’s proposed second-home community to get water rights from the city
Ahead of a Monday meeting when Coalville officials are expected to vote on a proposed 700-unit second-home community, developers say they have addressed concerns raised by Planning Commissioners and the public about water and legacy grazing rights.
Wohali would spread 570 homes and 130 nightly rentals across 1,525 acres recently annexed into Coalville on the city’s west side. The first phase would include a golf course, 102 residential lots, a 5-mile public trail system and about 400 acres of open space.
Plans to bring water to the development have been in flux over the year and a half the project has been planned. From the start, Wohali consultant Eric Langvardt has said, the development has committed to paying for the infrastructure to bring water to the homes and golf course.
According to the latest plans, the first phase will now be tied into the municipal water system and the golf course will be irrigated by water diverted from the Weber River using water rights the city would transfer to Wohali.
Coalville Mayor Trever Johnson said projections show the city would not use that water for at least the next 20 years.
Developers also plan to install a secondary water system for landscaping, something that was not included in plans presented during an Oct. 21 public hearing.
Another issue that came up in that meeting had to do with legacy rights for a local rancher who uses a dirt road to bring his cattle to graze. That route goes directly between the first and 18th holes on the proposed new golf course.
Langvardt said the plan is to take the right of way and move it to the east, something he said is offset by the improvements to the road the developers are providing like grading and paving it.
The project’s water was originally contemplated to come from wells, with a water feasibility study concluding that one well would be sufficient for the project’s first two phases, and one or two more wells would be required by full build-out.
But now developers are planning to take over some historic water rights from the city and divert water from the Weber River to irrigate the golf course.
Coalville has been paying about $30,000 a year to reserve about 300 acre-feet of water, Johnson said. An acre-foot is a little more than what a single-family home on a ⅓-acre plot uses in a year, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District assistant general manager Darren Hess explained.
In 2016, Hess said, Coalville paid to convert 110 acre-feet of reserves to actual water right. That gives the city the ability to draw that much water into its system if it needs to, Hess said. The plan is to transfer the other 190 acre-feet to Wohali to irrigate the golf course.
Johnson said that 110-acre-feet estimate came from the city’s water master plan and projections of the city’s growth over the next two decades. He said the plan found that the city would not use that amount of water even if its growth rate doubled.
The arrangement would exhaust the 300 acre-feet in reserve water rights the city received in a deal with Summit County that is “quite old,” Hess said. The district typically no longer sells those reserve rights, Hess said, noting the city was getting a cheap rate because of when the original deal was negotiated.
To use the water from the Weber River, developers plan to pay for a water diversion structure on the banks of the river that would direct water to a storage device they would also construct.
The city gets most of its water from a spring that runs near the proposed development, and only needs to dip into other sources at peak times like the middle of August, the mayor said. He said the city’s investments in its water system, like replacing a leaking storage tank and relining leaking water mains, might diminish its overall water usage.
If the Wohali developers used wells instead of the river, it might draw from the same source that feeds the spring, Johnson said.
“I think this is the best case scenario we could have, versus them drilling wells up there,” he said. “I think pulling it out of the river solves a lot of the problem.”
Commissioners also heard at an October meeting that developers wanted to avoid having to install a secondary water system for the development’s landscaping. At the time, a developer’s representative said using more expensive culinary water would entice people to conserve their water usage.
Langvardt has long said the vision for the million-dollar home community has been to use as little grass as possible and encourage natural landscaping.
Secondary water systems often run parallel to culinary ones, doubling the amount of infrastructure to build and maintain. Secondary water is not treated to the same level as drinking water is and is used for things like watering lawns.
On Friday, Langvardt said the design team had reconsidered and decided to install such a system.
The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. Monday at Coalville City Hall, 10 N. Main St. There will not be a public hearing. The City Council’s next scheduled meeting is Nov. 18. The preliminary plat will need to be approved by the Council, which will include a public hearing in its evaluation.
Snyderville Basin residents and those living on the East Side could see an increase in their property taxes next year, but it won’t be the result of higher property values.
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