Commission talks new Coral Canyon fire station, land swap appraisals

The Washington County Commission building in St. George | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Coral Canyon area of Washington County will be getting a new fire station under an agreement approved by the Washington County Commission at a regular meeting Tuesday.

The commission approved a contract between Washington County and the Permanent Community Impact Fund to fund the new fire station, which will be located near the intersection of State Route 9 and Coral Canyon Boulevard. The $1.51 million facility will provide service to the City of Hurricane, Washington City, Leeds Town and Harrisburg.

The station will be part of the Hurricane Valley Fire Special Service District and paid for with a $500,000 grant from the Permanent Community Impact Fund and a $1 million low-interest loan from the same source, county Administrator Dean Cox said.

The loan will be paid back by property taxes and impact fees within the boundaries of the special service district, which was authorized by voters in 2008.

No property tax increases are expected, Cox said. The county is arranging the bonding because the fire district includes several municipalities and some unincorporated land within the county.

After the station is built, the county will lease the fire station to the special service district for the same amount as the bond payment. Once the bond is paid off ownership of the station will transfer to the fire district. Similar arrangements have been used to build fire stations in Gunlock, Dammeron Valley and Winchester Hills, Cox said.

The Permanent Community Impact Fund is funded by royalties from oil and mineral extraction on public lands. The federal government collects the funds and distributes 49 percent back to the states, where it is used to mitigate the impact of extractive activities, Cox said.

Long Valley appraisal agreement

Proposed Long Valley exchange parcel | Image courtesy Washington County Geographical Information Systems, St. George News
Proposed Long Valley exchange parcel located between Washington Dome and Warner Ridge, south of Washington Dam Road | Image courtesy Washington County GIS, St. George News

In other business, the commission approved agreements with RCS Appraisal, Inc. to appraise  two properties: a 788-acre parcel within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve owned by developer Bob Brennan and the 605-acre Long Valley parcel being considered for an exchange with Brennan for part of his land in the Reserve.

The appraisals are a step toward finalizing a proposed land exchange with Brennan, who owns about 800 acres and is the owner of the largest remaining parcel of land inside the boundaries of the Red Cliffs Reserve.

A handful of landowners still own 1,288 acres within the Reserve, and the remaining private property must either be purchased outright or traded for land of equal value.

About 600 acres of land in Long Valley could be exchanged for between 80 and 180 acres of Brennan’s land in the Reserve, national conservation area manager Dawna Ferris-Rowley said at a Habitat Conservation Plan committee meeting Jan. 26. The final amount of acreage depends on the appraised value of the two properties.

Brennan told the HCP committee in a Feb. 23 meeting that if the exchange is completed as planned, the 600-acre Long Valley parcel will be traded for 100 acres of his property and he will donate 50 acres, bringing the exchange value to 150 acres. The Long Valley parcel is located between Washington Dome and Warner Ridge, just south of Washington Dam Road.

Read more: Developer pushes for Red Cliffs Desert Reserve property resolution

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve was created 20 years ago to protect the endangered Mojave desert tortoise and other species while allowing development to continue in the rest of Washington County. The HCP set aside the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in exchange for continued development in the rest of the county.

The Habitat Conservation Plan will expire March 15 and although Washington County submitted a renewal application in January 2015, the permit has not been renewed.

However, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials who oversee the process have said the existing permit will remain in place even after the expiration date, as long as there are good-faith negotiations underway to resolve the issue of private property remaining within the reserve.

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1 Comment

  • Jimmym March 2, 2016 at 8:51 am

    The Long Valley land was set aside for OHV use by the BLM, and now Washington county is sidestepping this agreement to make this deal. The real story here is how and why WC is offering this specific parcel for the swap.

    I’d like to see a detailed write-up on this side of things, before WC bulldozes their way through this agreement.

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