FARMINGTON — Tensions were high at a public hearing Tuesday night, May 6, over a proposed Pheasant Hollow Subdivision expansion.
The Farmington City Council considered whether to approve a schematic plan for the subdivision at about 50 E. 700 South. They can either vote to proceed with that phase in the development process or table the matter for further consideration.
Many neighbors to the planned expansion are upset that more homes could be built in an area they consider not suitable for development.
Cracks in everything from driveways to foundations to garages and other parts of homes have people’s ire up.
Mark Paskett, who has spent thousands of dollars trying to shore up his home built more than a decade ago, questions the council approving any expansion.
He has qualms both with Symphony Homes and the city.
“I can not understand why the city does not ensure recommendations are followed as they claim they were,” Paskett said of previous soil studies for the first subdivision, which includes his home.
“If the city is going to rely on soil engineers hired by the developer to ‘be present at each dig’ to ensure the things are followed, why do we even have building inspectors?”
City planning officials previously interviewed by the Clipper said those engineers were relied upon to assure proper procedures were followed. They also said the city has only a limited ability to get in the way of a property owner’s right to develop.
“What grounds does the city have to deny a property owner his fundamental rights if a professional says it’s OK? We’ll look at the soils report carefully,” said City Community & Economic Development Director David Petersen.
In the meantime, about 165 area residents have filed a petition opposing any further development.
Soil engineer recommendations were followed in that first development, said John Wheatley, vice president of development with Symphony Homes.
“Unfortunately, there were still a few homes that suffered negative consequences,” he said in a previous interview. Some impacted homeowners acknowledged they had received assistance in making repairs from the company.
“On this phase, we’ll do more extensive soils testing on individual lots before we proceed with construction,” Wheatley said. He added that “more advanced solutions” will probably be considered, including over-excavating where foundations go, and putting in more structural fill “to bridge any structural problems that could be underneath.”
Helical pears could be used in “extreme cases,” he said, adding that more testing would take place “because we’ve had an adverse experience in the past.”
A nearby resident who hasn’t been directly impacted by problems in the first subdivision, refuted comments from the developer and city personnel.
“Dave Petersen and John Wheatley’s comments are uninformed and inaccurate at best,” said Cherrill Dygert, who has lived in their home with her husband Howard for decades.
She said Symphony Homes and the city were informed in a geotechnical study conducted by Earthlee Engineering in 1998, that the site was a very high “risk of long term settlement...The risks at this site cannot be totalling eliminated,” the study said.
“Symphony and Farmington decided to pass those risks to home buyers,” she said.
In the meantime, cracks have developed on the pavement at Glynhill Court, 40 E. 620 South, reportedly due to failure of compaction in the street. They’re visible by viewing Google Earth.
The hearing took place at Farmington city hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday (May 6).
Several people turned up at the meeting to express concerns over the development expansion.
In the end, the council voted to move forward with the Pheasant Hollow expansion, but not before more soil studies could be performed.
The Clipper will publish a full report on the meeting later in the week.