Axtell residents object to subdivison

MANTI—The Sanpete County Commission has denied a zoning change that potentially could have enabled the owner of land about a half mile south of Center Street in Axtell to create nine 1-acre home lots.

At a meeting Tuesday, March 2, the commission approved a motion by Commissioner Reed Hatch to deny the change “until such time as we can improve the infrastructure enough to address it.”

However, because of an apparent email mix-up, the person proposing the change, Kimberly Beck, owner of KD Farms LLC, was not notified and did not appear at the public hearing that preceded the vote.

So there appeared to be a chance the commission would take up the application again so she could appear.

Scott Bartholomew, county commission chairman, said 27 Axtell residents had signed a petition against the change.

“I made some phone calls to some of the people out there in Axtell,” he said. “I had no one that wanted this to happen…This has just opened up a can of worms throughout the whole area out there in Axtell.”

An owner who wants to put a house on a lot in the AG zone must get explicit approval for the house from the Sanpete County Planning Commission and county commission. In the past five years, at least a half-dozen homes have been constructed on 5-acre lots in the vicinity of 300 East.The proposed rezoning would have applied to a 9.43-acre site running along 300 East, which is a paved road that runs south from Center Street on the east side of U.S. 89. The area is presently zoned AG, or agriculture, which permits agriculture only on 5-acre or larger lots.

Meanwhile, land in the center of Axtell—in the node around the intersection of Center Street and U.S. 89—is zoned RA2, or “residential agriculture.” That zone permits homes on 1-acre lots. Beck was seeking to have her land rezoned from AG to RA2.

At the hearing March 2, the rezoning application ran into two impediments: an inadequate water system and opposition from neighbors.

Commissioner Bartholomew said the county initially received a letter from Travis Blackburn, chairman of the Axtell Special Service District, the entity that runs the culinary water system, saying KD Farms did have enough water shares to potentially develop the nine lots.

But Bartholomew said after the letter was sent, the service district held a meeting and raised the number of shares required to build a home that would rely on the system. With that increased requirement, the commissioner said, KD Farms “would be hard pressed” to come up with sufficient shares for nine home lots.

Gary Mitchell, county zoning administrator, said there are more questions than whether KD Farms has sufficient water to support the development that could be permitted if zoning were changed.

Another question, he said, is whether the shares could legally be transferred to the special service district. And still another is whether the present water system could handle nine additional homes, which, he said, “it can’t.”

Later he explained that the culinary water pipe running along 300 East simply isn’t large enough to handle existing homes plus nine new ones.

Bruce Cook, one of the residents who appeared at the public hearing, noted that the Axtell culinary system relies on water from springs.

If more development is approved, the springs could run dry, he said, which would damage people who have already built homes in the area.

“I think it’s important when you approve something like this, (that) you look at the long-range effects of it,” he said.

Another resident said he left Salt Lake County, where he had a three-quarter-acre horse property, because neighbors around him were complaining about the smell of his horses.

He now has a 5-acre lot in Axtell. If 1-acre lots go in, he said, eventually the new residents will be saying, “’Oh, we don’t want those horses, we don’t want those sheep, we don’t want those cows.’”