CENTERFIELD— The Centerfield City Council has approved a second six-month moratorium on new construction because the city still doesn’t have access to enough water to supply any more connections than it is serving presently.
At a meeting Wednesday, June 1, Councilman Jon Hansen said the earlier moratorium was scheduled to end at midnight the next Sunday, June 5, and he felt the council needed to act until the water situation was resolved.
“I spoke with Kevin (Daniels),” who is the city attorney, “and he agrees we need to get something in place,” Hansen said. “This is going to take some time to get everything figured out.”
About a year ago, it became clear the city was using nearly all the culinary water it had the right to use. At that time, it applied to the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB) for just under $1 million to purchase additional rights.
By the end of 2021, the CIB had approved a $607,000 grant and $314,000 loan for purchase of water rights. The city wrote up an agreement to purchase the rights from a farmer who owns rights near the city’s main culinary water spring, which is outside Mayfield.
But Centerfield can’t finalize the purchase until the
rights are approved by the Utah Division of Water Rights. And a group of irrigators from Millard County that challenges many of the water rights applications coming out of Central Utah challenged Centerfield’s application.
A hearing took place on Thursday, July 2. But it will be two or three weeks before the Division of Water Rights informs Centerfield of its decision, Garrick Wilden, of Jones and Demille Engineering and consulting engineer on the effort to secure the rights, told the council.
Councilwomen Jacqueline Huff said she agreed it was time to issue a new moratorium because the water project was going to take some time and there were too many lose ends to not have a moratorium in place. The project includes not just tapping into additional water, but also enlarging and extending water lines to get the water from the spring site to the city.
Fire Chief Jed Hansen, who was at the meeting, said the Gunnison Valley Fire Department went out and tested the fire hydrants, and the safety of the town needed to be considered.
Centerfield citizen Lisa Williams asked the council if they would be within the legal limits of the law to issue a new moratorium.
“State law does not say one way or another,” Kevin Daniels, city attorney said.
He said with a moratorium the city is watching out for the existing citizens in Centerfield to make sure that they have enough water.
Weston Barney, developer of Danish Meadows Subdivision, disagreed strongly with the new moratorium. He insisted that state law limits building moratoria to six months and maintained that with expiration of the first moratorium, Centerfield’s time was up.
“It’s just a legal opinion on Kevin’s part,” Barney said. “If he thinks that he can get around it then whatever, but it is the law.”
Barney told the council that if the city had concrete data to prove the town didn’t have enough water, then they might get around the six-month limit, but he said the “law is clear” on the time limit for a moratorium.
Daniels reassured the council that he had spoken with several other city attorneys, and they all agreed with him.
Just a regular citizen as he called himself, Jed Hansen, said he hoped the council would stand up for existing citizens.
“Stand up for us who live here, go under the advisement of what our city attorney says,” Hansen said. “If Kevin said we can have another moratorium, we need to continue with it to make sure the citizens have the amount of water to take care of our homes and for safety reasons.”
Councilman Jaden Sorenson asked Daniels if the city issued a new moratorium, could it lift it at any time, or would it have to continue for the full six months.
“No, you can lift it whenever you feel the time is ready,” Daniels said. “Just hold a public hearing.”
Huff said she wanted to do what was best for all the citizens and made the motion to place another moratorium from June 6 to Dec. 6. The council passed the motion unanimously.