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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Update on Bison Creek Ranch

When the VCRD Trustees learned late last week of Bison Creek's Stream Alteration request, a letter was sent from the VCRD to the Utah Division of Water Rights (UDWR). That letter, and the concerns expressed by several nearby landowners to the UDWR, resulted in an on site meeting scheduled by the UDWR yesterday morning. At the meeting were representatives from the UDWR, the Utah Division of Wildlife, the developer, his engineering company, the VCRD and several landowners. Although invited by the UDWR, the Corps of Engineers chose not to attend.

The purpose of the meeting as stated in a letter from the UDWR was for Barry Swartz of Bison Creek "to clarify certain points regarding the various drainages involved and their relationship to the development." And that "this may be a good time for adjacent property owners to have their concerns addressed."

Mr. Swartz and Gardner Engineering reviewed the project using maps which included among other things the location of streams, springs, irrigation ditches, bridges, culverts, boardwalks and trailways. There were many questions asked and answered concerning the following: location of the streams and springs to be altered, the percent of wetlands impacted by the project & how calculated, why the boardwalks through the wetlands aren't included in that calculation, whether all bridges will be outside the wetlands, the approach to be taken to prohibit trucks from driving through wetlands during project construction, precautions taken so lot owners do not impact wildlife, mosquito abatement, ownership & responsibility for the roads, lakes, wetlands & sewer treatment facility, source of water for homes, lawns, lakes, wetlands & to replace lake water lost to evaporation.

The answers provided were not always ones we wanted to hear. The developer referred back to being given approval from the Corps of Engineers on many items. One such item is the exclusion of the boardwalks in calculating the percent of wetlands disturbed by the project. Per the developer the boardwalks are designed within the Corps's accepted parameters so as to be excluded from the measurement.

The developer did say that because of concerns received by the Corps late last year from Valley residents on the overall percentage of wetlands included on Bison Creek property the acreage was recalculated and more wetlands added to the project. (A minor win for our side.)

The representative from Division of Wildlife commented that they had asked for those lots in the upper portion of the development to be pulled back because of an endangered species of bird in the vicinity. This reduction of lot sizes was agreed to by the developer. (Another minor victory.)

Some attendees made recommendations based on personal experience to increase the size of the culverts to be used. The UDWR representative mentioned they would also like to see the culverts enlarged and half piped. At first Mr. Swartz agreed to enlarge the pipes, but then backpedalled and said he would do "whatever the State and Corps wants."

When the meeting was adjourned the UDWR rep asked the developer to show him certain areas of the project. We were not included in this discussion.

Sharon Zini
VCRD Secretary

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