Garco P&Z: No to sewer plan |

Garco P&Z: No to sewer plan

Allyn Harvey

The proposed expansion of the Midvalley Sanitation District stumbled this week after receiving its second thumbs-down from Garfield County.The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend denial of the district’s application to nearly double its service area. The county’s planning staff had also recommended rejection of the application.”I didn’t feel the district representatives had answered the questions that needed to be answered,” said Mark Bean, director of planning for the county.Midvalley’s application has been met with stiff resistance from residents who live in the El Jebel area, and about 40 people in all showed up for Wednesday night’s meeting.After nearly three hours of presentations and testimony, P&Z members rejected the application because Midvalley officials failed to adequately convince them of the need for expanded service, and because it did not comply with the area’s development master plan.Midvalley Sanitation currently offers service covering about 2,000 acres in the El Jebel area. Its plan was to extend service down the valley floor on either side of the highway, nearly doubling the size of its service area.Opponents wondered why Midvalley is so hot on expansion when the county master plan for the area calls for low to moderate density and much of the property in what would be Midvalley’s expanded service area is undeveloped. Many feared that extending utility services downvalley would give developers a strong case for higher-density housing.According to a press release from the Roaring Crystal Alliance, which led the opposition, Midvalley representatives admitted that they didn’t notify the majority of property owners within the proposed new boundaries. Instead, only the owners of large parcels – those most likely to be in favor of large developments – were notified of the expansion plan.In its application, Midvalley argued that its service will protect water quality as the rural lands immediately west of El Jebel are developed. Midvalley outlined three possible development scenarios in its application, ranging from 462 new units with a population of 1,386 to 955 new units with a population of 2,865 – all of which will need sewage service.”While the alliance supports tough water quality standards,” the alliance press release reads, “they are confident that quality can be protected with lower density development and higher quality individual waste-water systems.”Midvalley still has an opportunity to gain approval for its application. A public hearing before the Garfield County commissioners, who have the final say, will be held later this summer.

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