The Strasburg Town Council approved the Cedar Springs Estate proffer amendment with a mayoral tie-breaking vote Tuesday night.
The amendment initially requested the proffer be changed to allow 80 units to be built in a 12-month period, double what was already agreed upon.
But after hearing from town staff that 64 units were all that was needed to complete the project, Councilwoman Taralyn Nicholson proposed a compromise to vote on increasing it to 65 units.
The project calls for 116 units, with 52 that are approved or under construction. Fifty-eight of the units are set for single-family dwelling homes and 58 are for townhomes.
The proffer increase allows developer H & W Construction to coordinate a plan with a second national builder to complete the project six months sooner than expected.
Vice Mayor Ken Cherrix and council members Doreen Ricard, John Massoud and Christie Monahan voted against the change.
Council members Dane Hooser, Emily Reynolds and Paul Weaver joined Nicholson in supporting the amendment before Mayor Brandy Boise gave the deciding vote.
“At this point, this development is already approved, the number of houses is already approved,” Boise said earlier in the discussion before casting her vote.
Before casting their votes, Ricard said the town can’t set a precedent by doubling a proffer amount overnight and that when schools are overpopulated it leads to students being taught in trailers, which is “not pretty.” Massoud said the town couldn’t sustain the growth as Cherrix said 40 permits a year was already agreed to.
Monahan said: “As a council, I believe that we need to step back, go back to a work session and start looking at all the developments that are coming.”
Nicholson also wanted to take a step back and discuss development in town more.
While in support of the amendment, Reynolds said the amendment doesn’t change the number of total units that will be built and doesn’t see why the town shouldn’t be a “flexible partner” in granting the request. Hooser said adding the homes will stimulate the local economy with the residents spending their money locally.
“We are going to make money on these houses,” Hooser said.
Weaver brought up statistics that showed the fall school population at the northern campus in the county was 110 students smaller this year than what it was in 2018. Massoud said statistics can’t be relied on and sometimes people have to see things with their own eyes, while Monahan added the COVID-19 pandemic may be skewing this year’s numbers.
During council members’ discussion, Town Planning and Zoning Administrator Lee Pambid said there would be no town service capacity issues in terms of police, fire and rescue and traffic with the amendment. Boise said the school division is aware of the overcrowded situation and has planned to address it, while also saying a presentation on that would be beneficial.
Following the vote the council also:
• Approved changing the ordinance on firing guns in town that was brought forward by Town Manager Wyatt Pearson and Police Chief Wayne Sager to clarify when it is allowed and can be enforced. Massoud was the lone opposing vote, stating he didn’t see why the ordinance needs to be changed if already worked. Using a bow or crossbow in town is legal under a separate ordinance on pneumatics, with certain assurances in place.
• Affirmed information on applying for an exemption from the state’s moratorium on utility cut-offs was accurate. The exemption can be applied for if the town’s arrearages, or potential debt from customers’ unpaid bills, which is at about $71,000, exceeds 1% of the utility’s operating expenses, which is about $61,000. Pearson said the option of service cut-offs increases the number of bills being paid, and anyone experiencing hardship in paying their bills is asked to contact the town.
• Approved an extension of a provision with the Family First Coronavirus Response (CARES) Act for three months that allows town employees to have 80 hours of paid sick time for coronavirus related qualifications.
• Approved a resolution allowing the town to seek financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the development of a sewer improvement project. The assistance could provide up to 45% of the estimated $600,000 to $700,000 cost of a project approved in November to repair the town’s sanitary sewer system, which has rainwater entering it, and provide a low-interest loan to pay for the rest.