Could size of city double?
The potential economic surge from a housing developer willing to invest $80 million in Coalville has no traction with neighbors who say 305 new homes would detract from the North Summit hamlet’s rural character.
"The lack of growth has been part of Coalville’s problem," Mayor Duane Schmidt said, adding, however, that the proposed Cedar Heights development in northeast Coalville could nearly double the size of the city in five years.
"For this community to double in size in 10 years — that’s not as startling as say the community doubling in size in five years," Schmidt said, insisting "there is an awful lot of development that is going to be coming Coalville’s way."
Cumming Investment Company has asked that property the developer owns at an existing industrial park in Coalville be rezoned for a "cycle of life housing development," Schmidt said.
"They’ve got starter homes all the way up," he said, adding that some of the most expensive homes in Coalville could be built near where garbage was dumped and coal was mined in the past.
Meanwhile, the population growth would please Coalville businessman Leon Simister.
"Coalville is dying on the vine," he said. "I’m really for [Cedar Heights]."
But 305 homes are "a little excessive," he concedes.
"There are only 400 homes in Coalville to start with," Simister said.
The size of the proposed subdivision would likely overwhelm existing roads in Coalville, Sargent said.
"It will put over 3,000 additional trips on our transportation system (per day)," said the city’s chief planner. "We’re trying to deal with that one."
But the project’s density of four units per acre may most concern critics, said Schmidt.
"Down in the heart of Coalville we actually have 8 to 1 (homes per acre)," he said, adding, "when people start yelling about the density, I’m not sure that’s a great argument."
Most citizens who spoke at a packed public hearing before the Coalville Planning Commission in January were against the plan, Simister said.
"I hate it," said Coalville resident Karen Brostrom, a former planning commissioner in the town.
The "cookie-cutter" plan is being "forced upon the city," she charged.
"What we saw was a surprising lack of detail and effort addressing all of these concerns," Brostrom said about the public hearing last month. "The whole tone of the development really doesn’t feel very good at all."
Schmidt, meanwhile, is bracing for expansion of the North Summit fire and school districts and Coalville’s sewer plant to accommodate new growth.
"We’re working on this thing but it presents a lot of problems," said the mayor.
With 97 homes already approved nearby, Schmidt said "this will provide some housing for kids of people who live in Coalville plus it will provide houses for people who want to move to Coalville."
"All new development must be in keeping or consistent with the rural, small-town character of Coalville," Sargent said. "Many didn’t feel like this is keeping with that rural, small-town character."
A public hearing for Cedar Heights slated Feb. 26 was postponed this week at the request of the developer, Sargent said.
The developer wasn’t immediately available Friday for comment.
"There are a lot of other issues involved, politically, with it," Sargent said. "We’re trying to sort through just how much the city can accommodate and still keep the existing residents at the service level that they are now enjoying. No new development will be approved unless it pays for its proportionate share for impact that it creates to our infrastructure."
But from the city the developer will "get a fair shake," Schmidt insists.
"You have to look at it from the realization that this man owns this property and if he’s entitled to it how can you tell somebody you can’t do something with your property if he sits within all the codes and ordinances of the city?" asked the mayor.
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