The Coalville City Council will be holding a public hearing concerning proposed code amendments to the Parks, Trails and Open Space Development Code and Master Plan.  The public hearing will be held Monday, August 9, 2021 @ 6PM at the Coalville City Hall and should also be accessible via Zoom. More information about the meeting can be found here.

The Warm Up

The existing code language for Parks, Trails and Open Space was approved on February 24, 2014.  It is less than three pages long and can be accessed here on pages 17-19 of 24.  It is pretty simple in its wording and it leaves most of the decisions to the planning commission’s discretion at the time a development is being considered.  There is a map of the current and proposed trails that were put in place back in 2009.  You can access a copy of this map here on page 16.

Keeping Pace

The Planning Commission held eight work sessions and one public hearing as staff helped them through the process of updating the code and the map of proposed trails.  Some of the major updates include the addition of existing and newly proposed trails to the current map as well as a trail classification system that distinguishes the width (anywhere from a 12 – 20 foot easement) and potential uses (walking, biking, and multi-use) of the various trails. Pictures of these documents can also be accessed here on pages 45-51. The language of the code was put through a major workout.  It has stretched to three and a half pages and can be accessed here under Attachment C on page 39.  In this new version of the code, the staff will be the ones enforcing the new provisions on land owners and developers.  The Planning Commission would no longer have the ability to make decisions about trails and dedicating easements to the city on a case-by-case basis.

Hitting The Wall

While these changes were going through the Planning Commission, some of the Commissioners and members of the public had concerns.  The infringement on the rights of private property owners was at the top of that list, as many of the trails run right through various parcels of land that is currently owned by Coalville residents.  During the public hearing, even the mayor “Zoomed in” and cautioned the commission to stay mindful of the importance of respecting private property.  Some property owners deemed this an “unfair taking of their land”.  Even at the point the proposal was voted on, no one could agree on who would have to bear the cost of constructing and maintaining the trail system and some affected property owners were concerned about the possibility of personal liability if someone were injured while using trails on their land.

The Cool Down

The map, code and plan amendments were given a positive recommendation by the Planning Commission and forwarded to the City Council.  Admittedly, there was still work to do and problems to solve before the document would be ready to cross the finish line.  The City Council held a work session last week to look at the proposed map, code and plan updates.  New concerns were brought up about the increase in cost of purchasing a newly constructed home if the cost of the trails were passed on to the new home owners by the developer. There was also talk about the burden of increasing property taxes for existing residents, as staff made claims that trail systems generally increase property values.  Some members of the City Council shared the concerns of private property infringement and the burden placed on land owners if they want to allow their child to build on a portion of their land.  The definition of what counts as a development, what triggers the dedication of trail easements to the city and who would bare the cost of the trails was discussed again at this meeting.   No decisions were made and the council and mayor expressed a desire to hear the thoughts of the citizens at the upcoming public hearing.  Please take the time to examine the documents linked in this article that were all provided by the city and let the council know your concerns or stance on this important issue Monday night!