A trio of the largest property owners in west Herriman are ready to develop land, but to do it, city officials want everyone in the area to pay for water infrastructure for the next 20 years.
The proposition is upsetting to some residents who don't want to shell out money on water services that they feel don't benefit their properties.
"We are being forced by this issue to develop and we aren't ready," said Jackie Burrows, a property owner on the west side of Herriman, during a public hearing Thursday night.
Rosecrest Communities, a developer, will pay up to $5 million for a 6 million gallon water tank that will be perched a mile above the Mountain View Corridor. The total cost is $12 million to put in the water tank and lines. But the developer and the Herriman City Council want those living in the area where the tank will be installed to help with the cost of the waterline and pump needed to make the tank operable.
A proposal Special Assessment Area (SAA) calls for the cost of the waterline and pump to be split up among a diverse group of up to 35 property owners owning more than 100 parcels of land,including developers and people who own land through a family trust.
A number of property owners including Laguna Investment company told the council they weren't ready to develop now and, because of the weak economy, couldn't afford the assessment cost.
"Currently we have no development incomes to pay for this assessment," said Troy Lashley, a limited partner in Laguna. "Why is the city asking us to pay such a large assessment when we don't have the ability at this time to start activities out there to pay for that assessment?"
OneBluffdale resident has found herself in a difficult position as a result of the proposal, because part of the land she owns was annexed into Herriman in 2007. The annexation was part of a 14-year-battle between developers and Bluffdale, which strictly required 1-acre lots for homes. The 4,000 acre annex allowed developers to build higher density housing than allowed in Bluffdale.
Rita Harvey said she hasn't heard much about the assessment area she is in and the water tank plans, but doesn't think it is helpful to her.
"I don't feel too inclined to pay for a water system that doesn't help me at all," she said."I think those interested should pay the fee, rather than trying to pass it on to those who could possibly benefit from it," said Harvey, who owns 1.8 acres that she said is not suitable for development.
She thinks paying up to $5,000 per developable acre for water infrastructure is a steep price. The city will offer owners the opportunity to take out a 20-year loan with interest, but that still doesn't sit right with Harvey.
"I think it is a little excessive," Harvey said of the cost. "I don't see where it benefits me at all."
"Here we are asking the council to please really look at this," said property owner Ron Motzkus. "You force 30 some odd landowners to sell, so the three landowners can go forward."
Herriman assistant city manager Gordon Haight said there are pros and cons to the plan, but he believes dividing the cost is the most fair way to fund the project.
"Everyone pays for the part of the water system that would be available to them for development," he said.
Farmington City manager Dave Millheim, owner of Wasatch South Hills Development, agrees with the SAA and says it is a fair way to have people pay their share.
"The reason I like SAAs is because you direct the benefit to those who get the benefit," Millheim said.
Since the recently completed Mountain View Corridor satisfied road access to the properties, the final piece to completing the development is adding water.
The city will bond to put in the water system and use property owners' land as collateral for the bond, meaning if owners don't pay their assessment cost they will lose their property.
The City Council will vote on the issue Nov. 8.