2012-11-29 / Front Page

Cathey’s Valley plan passes 4 to 1

By Erik Skindrud / GAZETTE EDITOR

A long-debated plan that will regulate development along Highway 140 in Cathey’s Valley for years to come was approved by the county on Tuesday night.

The vote was 4 to 1, with supervisor Janet Bibby, who represents Cathey’s Valley, casting the dissenting vote.

As approved, the plan allows landowners to install community water systems—a detail that will ease two subdivision plans that now have applications pending with the county. The new Cathey’s Valley Community Plan also allows individual housing parcels of 2.5 acres instead of the 5-acre minimum that is common in other county areas zoned for rural use.

While the new plan appears to contain important safeguards, key provisions appear written to satisfy the two development plans now pending, supervisor Bibby said on Wednesday morning.

“It’s sad, because instead of a community plan we have a specific plan for two developments,” she said. “I think people will be shocked when they see what the plan actually allows.”

What ends up built “may not be rural” in character, she added.

Of the close to 20 speakers who added comments during Tuesday’s hearing, a majority voiced concern or opposition to the plan’s provision for community-scale water systems. Requiring each 2.5-acre housing parcel to install on-site wells would serve as a natural check on for-profit development, several speakers said. 

“When you don’t have common water and sewer (service), you don’t have large subdivisions,” area resident Heather Bernikoff told the board. “Pass the plan, but do not include water and sewer in common, please.”

One other speaker on Tuesday, however, said there were advantages to drilling fewer wells in Cathey’s Valley.

Well expert Mark Harris said he believes Cathey’s Valley has enough water to support the planned housing units. A well for each parcel, however, would increase the risk of groundwater contamination, he said. 

“I’m kind of shooting myself in the foot as far as business,” the well driller said. “But that’s what I think.”

Speaker Tim Miller of the Miller Planning & Design Group said he represents one of the two landowners seeking permits for multiple housing units in Cathey’s Valley.

“A lot has been given up” regarding freedom for developers in the plan, he said.
The Cathey’s Valley Community Plan specifies a smaller zone for specifically commercial development and prohibits commercial development for the tourist trade, he noted.

A monument and history exhibit at Cathey's Valley recounts the area's ranching history. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsA monument and history exhibit at Cathey's Valley recounts the area's ranching history. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Erik: Please correct your

Erik: Please correct your story. The plan as passed does not permit residential community sewer systems only a community water system for new subdivision. All residential sewage must be processed on site parcel by parcel!! This is clear on the matrix and discussed for hours yesterday. Also both of the potential subdivisions are already approved for processing under current regs and by law will not be impacted by the new plan.

Too bad it's all about money.

Too bad it's all about money.

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