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Coalville City Council to Take Public Input on, Deliberate Wohali Water Plan


The Coalville City Council, meeting on Tuesday night, will continue to take public comment on and then consider approval of the next step in the Wohali development.


The Council will consider the Wohali development agreement for the Phase IA final subdivision plat and construction drawings. The meeting starts at 6 p.m., with access via Zoom and limited in-person seating.


The meeting was originally set for Monday. Coalville Mayor Trevor Johnson said that since his son was graduating that night, the council accommodated him by changing the meeting to Tuesday.


There are still disputes over the development, leading sometimes to bitter arguments between opponents, and residents on the other side who support Wohali and Coalville’s city staff.


That led the Johnson, at the council’s last meeting, to call for civility and to ask both sides to rise above personal attacks.


Arguments have centered on the city’s water plan with Wohali. The mayor said the city has had reserve water shares in the Weber River for a number of years, and it pays an annual reservation fee. After converting some of those shares to wet water, they have 190 of the shares left.


Johnson said they have an important benchmark coming up this summer.


“This coming August, that tier rate is going to increase,” he said. “And so if we don’t turn them over into actual wet water and start paying that rate, in August it’ll go up. But if we lock in before August and convert those shares, then we’ve locked in forever at a much lower rate, even though we don’t need it, even though we can’t access it right now. Additionally, by 2025, we would no longer even have an ability to reserve them if we didn’t turn them over. So it’s kind of a use-it-or-lose-it or use-it-or-pay-more, kind of a scenario. So the Council decided unanimously to go ahead and convert those over and start paying that higher rate, irregardless of Wohali, didn’t matter.”


Meanwhile, the Wohali project, located in the hills west of Interstate 80, has a need for secondary water.


“So we can’t access it, it’s on the other side of the freeway. We don’t have any structure to pull it out. That water is not really slated to even be needed for the past 20 years with our growth. So what Wohali proposed is, Hey, look, we’ll build a diversion structure to pull it out of the water. We will pay that fee, even though—whatever that tier rate is, they will pay for that, as long as they’re using it. And they will pay the monthly usage, on top of that. And so that represented, I think at the time, I remember it was about $90,000 a year for that fee. They pay to pump it up.”


He said that under the proposal, Coalville can ask for the water shares back upon giving a year’s notice. Wohali will also turn over the diversion structure to the city.


Johnson said the developers are already looking at wells and other options to supply their water.


Opponents, though, think the city is risking its water shares. Two weeks ago, a councilor proposed that an outside water attorney confirm the legal judgment of Coalville City Attorney Sheldon Smith.


However, Johnson said they’re not following up on that proposal.


“We’re really confident in our review of the legal document,” he said. “It has less to do with having a water expert look at it, and more to do with a legal opinion of the wording. And that’s where we’re at. The opponents have done that in a number of instances with legal opinions, wanting third, fourth, fifth-party verification. And we’ve accommodated that by and large, as you know, leading up to the ombudsman report that came back. And in every instance, our city attorney has been on the right side of the law and the interpretation of the law. And so I feel confident and I think the City Council feels confident that they’re being well-represented.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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