Foster Creek may allow public trail access

Published 1:11 pm Monday, October 18, 2010

Foster Creek developers say they are considering allowing public access to trails on some of the green space of the proposed 1,065-acre development off Houston Road and Hwy. 108 in Columbus.

Trail access was one of several details reviewed during a special informational meeting held Tuesday regarding the developments draft development agreement. Foster Creek attorney Alan Peterson and project manager Scott Kilby answered questions and discussed plans. Only five local residents attended the meeting.

Columbus Town Council and residents asked questions and reviewed the draft, which details a development plan including up to 700 lots.

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Although public access to the development is not included in the development agreement, Kilby says the developments master plan specifies that hiking trails will be open to the public. Developers are still uncertain whether the development will be gated, but they say the plan is to have hiking trails open to the public even if the development is gated.

Kilby says he has had discussions with Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson regarding allowing access to the trails through the countys recreation park in Mill Spring, which is adjacent to one side of the development. Peterson said the public wouldnt have access to all the developments open spaces.

Town attorney Bailey Nager and town manager Jonathan Kanipe began the meeting by reviewing changes they are recommending to the agreement.

Nager said he is suggesting nine or 10 changes to the agreement, including placing a maximum of 700 lots on the development. Nager also suggested that the town be able to inspect any utilities the town will take over, such as water and sewer utilities. Nager said he is also concerned about a statement that says the town shall reserve sufficient water to take care of the development.

In no way should residents of this development have greater rights of water, Nager said. He added that he will work on wording to the particular clause to better suit the town.

Nager also suggested that wording regarding the development constructing a water storage tank be changed to will construct a tank. Developers and the town are still working on how many gallons the tank(s) will be.

Other changes requires that turning lanes be in place prior to the first certificate of occupancy is issued, before any construction on the site.

Another clause that may be added to the agreement would pertain to any utilities within the development that are owned by the town. The clause would allow the town to turn over those utilities to another entity in the future for example, to a water and/or sewer authority the town might join in the future.

The development’s plan includes entrances off Houston Road and Hwy. 108. The build-out of the project is proposed to be completed between 2025 and 2030. The proposed plan for the development includes detached and attached single family dwelling, multifamily dwellings (condominiums), accessory recreational and open spaces.

Columbus Mayor Eric McIntyre mentioned last week that he wants to put in the agreement that one building be accessible to fire and police officials, like a substation for emergencies.

McIntyre said several other items could be placed in the agreement and both the town and Foster Creek representatives urged the public to contact them with any ideas for the agreement.

Last weeks meeting could be the only public informational meeting, which was not required. A public hearing is required prior to approval, but no date has yet been set. McIntyre said it could take several months to come to a final agreement.