Our View: Change in water ordinance makes sense

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Craig City Councilman Don Jones has long advocated either changing the city's water ordinance or abandoning it altogether.

Why? Because the rest of the council was only too willing to accommodate requests for exemptions -- usually in the name of growth.

Back in 1997, complaints about low water pressure on the east side of town prompted the city to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars (albeit some in grant funds) in upgrades to increase pressure.

Shortly thereafter, council members wanted to make sure the problem never happened again. So they adopted a water ordinance that restricted people from constructing buildings at elevations higher than 80 feet below the bottom of the city's water tanks. Enforcing such restrictions ensures water pressure of about 35 pounds per square inch.

But that limited "developable areas" around the city, and people have shown they're willing to do just about anything to get city water, including consenting to annexation, installing booster pumps, paying for the cost of a waterline and living with low pressure, City Manager Jim Ferree said.

So the City Council has had to evaluate several requests on a case-by-case basis. The council has made some allowances over Jones' objections.

Now the council is considering changing its ordinance to allow construction between 35 and 65 feet below the water tank, with some caveats. No taps will be allowed on properties without deed restrictions requiring booster pumps in that elevation range.

Jones is fine with that.

"Since we got the height restriction moved down, I have no problem with it. I think that'll help enhance growth, especially to the west, where it looks like the growth is headed," Jones said.

The council has made a prudent decision that will open the city to more growth. They've looked a little clumsy trying to enforce an ordinance that was a hindrance to development. And as Jones pointed out, if the council was going to make so many exceptions, why bother to have an ordinance at all?

The amended ordinance has protection for the city and taxpayers, but it gives the council some flexibility to promote growth.

The council will vote on a second reading of the amended ordinance at its next meeting.

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