Project sets the stage for Spanish Valley growth

A massive infrastructure development project, totaling more than $11 million, is setting the stage for continued growth and development of Spanish Valley. The project is bringing water and sewer services to the area.
The infrastructure will bring needed services to the current residents of Spanish Valley and help in the eventual development of 5,000 acres of land in Spanish Valley managed by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).
The Spanish Valley Water Conservancy District owns 500 acre-feet of water in an underground aquifer, in addition to 4,500 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River. The current project is developing the water rights from the aquifer.
The water project totals $5.1 million and was funded by the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB) and the Utah Division of Drinking Water (DDW).
The CIB funding is $638,000 in a low interest loan and $1,912,000 in a grant.
The DDW funding is $1,785,000 in a low interest loan and $765,000 in a grant.
The sewer project will tie into the new sewer treatment facility recently completed by Grand County. Grand and San Juan counties are cooperating on a regional sewer plant. The new San Juan County water systems will be looped into the Grand Water and Sewer system for emergency redundancy.
The sewer project totals $5,915,000 and was funded by the CIB and the Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ).
The CIB funding is $885,000 in a low interest loan and $2,065,000 in a grant.
The DWQ funding is $1,141,250 in a low-interest loan and $1,823,750 in a grant.
San Juan County Administrator Kelly Pehrson is ecstatic about the project. Pehrson said the initial phase of the project was meant to serve the 240 existing households in Spanish Valley. Almost all of the homeowners are participating in the project.
Pehrson also mentioned the success in funding the projects. “We were told by all these agencies we would get 100 percent loan on this project,” said Pehrson. “Thanks to Commissioner Bruce Adams on the CIB Board, and the board members of the San Juan Spanish Valley SSD, we were able to get close to 80 percent of the funding through grants.”
Although the current residents will certainly benefit from the project, the big winner may be SITLA, which intends to eventually develop thousands of acres it owns in Spanish Valley.
SITLA provided $2.2 million to repay the loans on the project. 
According to the Spanish Valley Area Plan, the area may become the largest community in San Juan County. The area is just south of the Grand County line, adjacent to the booming Moab area.
The plan projects that as many as 3,500 households could call Spanish Valley home within the next ten years, with a population of 8,770 residents.
The current population of the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley is estimated to be 500.
Elise Erler, from the SITLA office in Salt Lake City, recently provided answers to several questions about the SITLA plan.
Q: What is the overall status of the development of Spanish Valley and particularly of the SITLA properties there?
A: Please be aware, the overall SITLA development project is still in its infancy, as there is much work still needed (Community Structure Plan and Development Agreement with San Juan County) before SITLA goes to market seeking a qualified master community developer which specializes in mixed use development.  
The Spanish Valley Phase I – PC Zone Application and Preliminary Community Structure Plan – will be presented to the San Juan County Planning Commission on February 7.
Q: How far will these initial infrastructure projects extend? 
A: They currently extend to all the existing private property and edges of SITLA land. 
Q: Do they include southern Spanish Valley and Blue Hill area?
A: Further extensions beyond the existing residents will happen later and will be facilitated by the new developer of each respective party or property owner. 
Q: There are lots of rumors regarding the Loves Truck Stop project. 
A: It is anticipated that the transaction will close early April, and it will be located at SITLA’s Sunny Acres Commercial Parcel, which is located on the east side of HWY 191 and in between Sunny Acres Lane and the Moab Business Park. 
Q: Is SITLA the developer or does a development company purchase and develop a subdivision? 
A: SITLA will work with one or more qualified master developers, depending on market conditions, to create a large, diverse master-planned community over time.
Q: What is the process to develop community infrastructure, such as municipal buildings, schools, clinics, roads, libraries, parks, maintenance sheds, and commercial properties?
A: The General Plan recently approved by the county has identified the best locations for schools, parks, municipal buildings, etc. However, San Juan County is already purchasing a parcel located in the Old Airport area which will be the beginning of some of that community infrastructure.
The Phase I Community Structure Plan will identify general locations for additional community amenities and locations of neighborhoods, trails, roads, etc. 
Q: How will the area look as these projects develop?
A: A distinct community of clustered development surrounded by open spaces to address a range of residential needs and neighborhood services with employment primarily in Flex Development Areas.
This may be a bedroom for Moab initially, but the objective is a self-sustaining independent community that adds tax revenue to San Juan County without competing with Moab’s tourism-recreation focus.

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