Wednesday, 11 July 2007 02:08

Jackson City Council: Jackson Hills Project Discussed

slide18Jackson Planning Commissioner Warren Carlton said his final goodbyes Monday night to the City Council as they honored him with a resolution for his 6 years of service. Mayor Drew Stidger read the resolution out loud and then presented it to Carlton who thanked the citizens of Jackson for their support and continued involvement in City issues he commended them on their involvement. The audience responded with a standing ovation as Carlton took his seat. Also to appear on the agenda was the Councils review of the controversial Jackson Hills Project.

 slide19 The item before the council was not to make a final decision on the project but rather hear more information surrounding the project. The public hearing for the meeting apparently was not properly posted therefore any comments made regarding the project could not become a matter of record. The development consists of 540 homes, an eighteen hole golf course with a clubhouse, a restaurant and maintenance facilities, a recreation and community center and spa, a three acre park, and associated roadway and infrastructure improvements. The project consists of two phases with phase one including 150 single family homes, the golf course and related amenities. In phase 2 the remaining 390 homes will be constructed as well as the proposed park. The Planning Commission most recently debated the merits of the project in a marathon meeting with the final recommendation that the City Council deny the project based on the finding that it would have significant impacts on the environment.  The applicant/developer New Faze Development then introduced the project. New Faze Vice President Marty Tuttle said it was a pleasure to finally get to the City Council and that some of the dynamics of the situation have changed even since the last Planning Commission meeting on the development.

slide32 Those dynamics he said are that businesses are continuing to leave Jackson as well as the fact that the State Water Board has clarified the wastewater issue by releasing the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. He then went into the different aspects of the project but made sure to say, that regardless if the project passes there are two “takeaways, traffic and wastewater” which he said both would remain with or without the project. The high lights of the project, according to Tuttle, were the fact that the project provides a solution to the City’s wastewater issues as they can use reclaimed water to irrigate the golf course; the fact that they have focused on oak tree preservation and are planning to plant over 1500 trees; the development’s incorporation of a bicycle and golf cart trail network and walking trails connecting to nearby shopping centers. Tuttle said New Faze is also willing to contribute to the page 11 projects identified during last summer’s traffic workshops. Les Clark from Nolte Engineering also made a presentation on wastewater and how the development is the solution as the NPDES permit appears to indicate that the City will have to start treating water to Title 22 Tertiary standards so that water in return can be used to irrigate the golf course. Citizens later countered that the golf course is not the only solution as local ranchers have offered their ranch land for irrigation. The City’s own engineer ECO:Logic seemed to agree that the golf course is solution for the City of Jackson.  He said disposal is the key issue and driving force if the improvements need to be made to the city’s waste water system, and that the Jackson Hill’s golf course could be the disposal site. He also added that it would be at looked fondly upon by the State Water Board. He then touched on the concerns voiced by over who will pay for what.

Previously citizens echoed that if title 22 tertiary water was only needed to irrigate the golf course then they do not want to bear the rate increases associated with that. ECO:Logic’s representative however said, that if the City is going to be required to treat all waste water to that level under the new NPDES permit, then citizens will, of course, have to pay a share of costs as the associated waste water treatment levels are not being dictated by the construction of the golf course project, but rather the state’s requirements for the new NPDES permit. However, he did add that obviously the developers will benefit from having the reclaimed water available to irrigate and will pay a portion as well.  ACTC Executive Director Charles Field then briefly went over key points from the special workshop he held with the Planning Commission on the traffic impacts associated with the project. He said for about 2 years ACTC’s concerns were “virtually ignored.” First and foremost he said the City’s adopted circulation element is not consistent with the City’s land use element, and government code states that they must be, especially before approving projects of this size. He went on to say he doesn’t believe that the final EIR truly addresses ACTC’s concerns. Concern regarding evidence to support the findings in the EIR, the fact that some intersections were not even mentioned for funding that will be affected by the project, also that the developer needs to pay a fair share for their impacts. Field suggested other changes such as Jackson Hills contribute to a long term solution to traffic problems, as well as make a separate route for the golf carts and bicycles. --The Council used this week’s meeting as an opportunity to hear about the project and the different impacts it may have as well as voice some of their initial questions that they would like to see answered at the August 13th meeting. The public also briefly presented questions that they too would like to see answered. On August 13 the Council is expected to make the final recommendation on the project.