Some get 'free ride' in using Smithfield irrigation, council learns
By Jeremiah Stettler
SMITHFIELD -- Secondary water usage may become more expensive than some Smithfield residents bargained for.
Council Member Jeffry Gittins told the Council at its Wednesday meeting that several homeowners are suspected of using the city's irrigation system free of charge.
"The city has a secondary water and irrigation system which can service approximately 300 to 400 homes," said Gittins. "But using the system requires a service fee. Only 19 households have actually paid that fee. We would conclude that some people are using the system without paying for it."
Although no legal action has been proposed, city officials affirm that interference with the delivery of water is a direct violation of state water codes and city-related secondary water ordinances.
In contrast to the "free-ride" some homeowners have purportedly received, Gittins noted that the right to the city's water shares requires a hook-up fee of $350. An additional $5 monthly service fee is required for system usage.
Although residents may argue that the water line was installed prior to the purchase of their homes, Gass points out that hook-up fees are still required.
"Developers have obviously invested money into that line," City Manager James Gass said, "But the hook-up fee has been designed to help reimburse the city for the cost of the initial system."
When the system was designed, developers were permitted to construct secondary water lines. Although no hook-up fee was required for the installation, developers were instructed to place a stop on the valve to avoid illegal water usage.
Many of the lines allegedly have been connected without the city's knowledge.
Although speculation has been made concerning the intent of soome Smithfield residents, Gass contends the problem has stemmed from misunderstandings amongst home-buyers following the construction of their homes.
"I believe many households are hooked up to the system thinking they are entitled to the water," said Gass. "I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case for most of the individuals who haven't paid their fees."
A letter was drafted and distributed to Smithfield residents prior to Wednesday's meeting, explaining that hook-up fees are mandated under city policy and should be honored. Individuals are welcome to contact the city office for information concerning their connection status, but representatives from the water department have been scheduled to canvass the area to check for improper secondary water hook-ups.
To avoid future problems, Gittins proposed drafting an ordinance requiring the $350 installation fee as part of a building permit.
"We need to look at changing things in the future," said Gittins. "I would suggest the development of an ordinance to make developers pay the fees up front. If we look down the road, I see more and more subdivisions which will require secondary water connections. I think it is necessary to require secondary water fees before issuing a building licence."
A draft of the ordinance will be developed and proposed at a future date.
In other business, Smithfield city announced the acceptance of two road-improvement proposals submitted before the master plan transportation committee.
After receiving more than 100 proposals for areas requiring road-improvement and expansion, seven sites were slated for future development in Cache County, two of them in Smithfield.
In accordance with criteria established by the Master Plan committee, Gass explained that a stretch of 200 East between Smithfield and Hyde Park has been documented as a future concern for commercial and residential traffic.
Additional work will commence on an area between Airport Road and 600
Archived Months:September 1998