Peterson may be Morgan County’s next Mountain Green.
If the Morgan County Council’s May 6 action on two rezones in the Peterson area is any indication, growth is coming to the area. By rezoning both the Whittier property and the Vern Young property, the council made it possible for as many as 60 new building lots in the area. On paper alone, the rezones together could allow for 111 homes, but property limitations such as slope, easements, floodplain and access scale the estimate back to 60.
Peterson resident Randy Sessions said the Interstate 84 offramp as well as a culinary water system are two reasons why Peterson is seen as an attractive development area. The county’s own general plan designates the area as a growth area, he said.
Sessions noted that improving the water system in the area is already a need, even without new development. The new development could help shoulder some of the needed improvements that would benefit the entire community.
“This is the time and place (for development), when you have a willing buyer and seller,” Sessions said referring to the recent Whittier rezone that could make way for 60 new lots in Peterson. “There is a demand.”
“The timing is right,” said Peterson resident Brent Bohman, who also sat on the Peterson area planning committee years ago. “In the last month, I have been approached by 10 people interested in a lot in the Peterson area. There is demand.”
Sessions said that cattle contribute more to nitrate problems than do residential septic systems.
“The nitrate levels of one cow equals 10 to 20 homes,” he said.
Sessions’ wife, Debbie, advised the council to follow their own general plan as the Peterson area grows.
“I know it is scary to be a growth area,” Debbie Sessions said. “But either we embrace our general plan or we throw it out. If you are uncomfortable with it, throw it out.”
“There is a significant amount of demand for people who want to live in this community,” said Blair Gardner, representing clients who wish to develop the Whittier property. “The demand and timing is now. Mountain Green inventory is low, and with limited new development, the demand is here.”
A Mountain Green resident, Gardner said he plans to move to the Peterson area in the future.
Residents, real estate brokers and land owners are all aware of increasing demand for building lots in the Peterson area. While many are aware of the demand, not everyone agrees on if the timing to double the amount of homes in the Peterson area is right.
Morgan County Councilman Robert Kilmer said while the general plan identifies areas such as Peterson as areas expected to grow, he would not like to see the growth take place “in one fell swoop” the next day.
“I am not sure the community is O.K. with it all at once,” Kilmer said.
Many noted that the Peterson Pipeline supplying water to the community would need to be improved to make way for new development on the scale the Whittier rezone contemplates. Already, water pressure for fire suppression and water storage is an issue. The pipeline only has between 22 and 35 new water connections available for future use, Kippen said.
Any improvements or new capacity to the system could come at the expense not only of new growth, but existing residents as well, Kilmer said.
“The positives of development far outweigh the negatives,” Gardner said.