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Kane County Commission holds special meeting to discuss Willow Reserve Estates development

The Commission hosted a special public meeting at the Kanab Center on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. regarding the Willow Reserve Estates development located about 7 miles east of town. Commissioners Heaton, Kubeja, and Meyeres and Kane County Attorney Rob Van Dyke were in attendance, as were close to 100 local residents.

Commissioner Heaton noted that the meeting was not required but organized by the commission for the sole purpose of hearing from the public on the issue, and encouraged residents to share their thoughts that evening and at additional special meetings yet to be announced. Other venues for public comment on the development include the regularly held Kane County Planning Commission and Kane County Commission meetings. Commissioner Heaton noted that mail, email, phone, and office hours are also available for residents who need more than the two minutes allotted at open meetings to share their thoughts with the commission.

Kane County Attorney Rob Van Dyke next took a few minutes to describe the status of the development’s progress.

Greg Whitehead, the developer, then spoke about the project, his family and ties to the area, and his intention for the planned development to enrich the community and meet local housing needs. After Mr. Whitehead’s remarks the floor was opened to public comment.

It quickly became clear that there is very strong and sustained local opposition to the Willow Reserve Estates development. More than a dozen residents expressed their concerns about the approval process, the adequacy of infrastructure and utilities, the development’s “fit” in the community, and what many described as a slippery slope that could lead to the Kanab area being over-developed.

A small number of residents spoke in support of the development, noting that property rights apply to every citizen and that it’s the commission’s job to serve those rights, as well.

Overall, however, the more than two hours of comment were in opposition to the development, with some residents saying that in their opinion it was probably already a “done deal.” Pressed on that point, commissioners Heaton and Meyeres both noted that the development is already approved, and that public comment at this point in the process regards the specifics of using a PUD (planned unit development) or R1 (residential) zoning in planning the development. Meyeres stated, “It is a done deal, in that something will be developed there. What this is about is hearing from you whether you prefer R1 or a PUD.”

The public is encouraged to check the county’s website or Facebook Page for information about future special meetings on this topic.

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