Towns Halt Development Without Secondary Water Sources

Towns Halt Development Without Secondary Water Sources

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LAYTON, Utah (AP) -- Amid Utah's long drought, three rapidly growing Davis County communities are hinging approval for new development proposals on whether builders have secondary water sources secured.

While the restrictions will increase the cost of new home construction in Syracuse, West Point and Layton, city leaders say it will prevent them from running out of drinking water before running out of room to build.

The water provided by developers recharges cities' reservoirs through an agreement with water conservancy districts, who treat the water and sell it back to the city at a reduced cost.

Layton was the most recent community to adopt the requirement after City Engineer Dave Decker reported they would be short 1,200 acre-feet of water if the population reaches 119,000 residents by 2030.

"It just has to be managed properly," he said.

Clinton and South Weber city leaders are looking at adopting similar water requirements. Other Davis cities, rather than require that water shares be turned over to the city, make developers demonstrate they have the shares needed to build on the property.

Syracuse Community Development Director Rodger Worthern said the city has required developers for at least a decade to provide three acre-feet of "useable" water for each acre they develop.

City Manager Rick Davis said West Point has had a water requirement ordinance since April 6.

"We knew this was going to happen," said Davis, who has witnessed a 40 percent increase in city growth the past four years, or about 2,500 new residents. "Land is so abundant. Water is not," he said.

But the water requirements are likely to push new home construction prices even higher, said Ivory Homes division manager Gary Wright.

For example, a $200,000 home in one of the cities requiring water shares will cost 2.5 percent more if the developer has to pay retail water share cost, he said.

Still, Wright said he is confident developers will continue to build in those communities because "it's where people want to live."

"It's too good a market," he said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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