ONTARIO — The first item on Monday night’s Ontario Planning Commission meeting was a request for a variance from the city code governing irrigation and drainage ditches. Dan Cummings, Ontario Community Development Director, explained how applicant Chelsey Warrington was making the request for a variance is proposing a 10-lot residential subdivision on the property at 712 Sunset Drive. This is bordered on the west by an irrigation ditch managed by the Old Owyhee Ditch Company.
Ultimately, the commission unanimously granted Warrington variance from the City Code. This will relieve him from the financial obligation of improving the ditch as part of work for his subdivision.
Cummings said that some of the issue stems from the Warrington’s assertion that he only owns “to the center of the ditch” according to the planning commission report outlining the proposed motion. Warrington stated in the motion that if he is required to pay for the piping of the ditch by the city or the Old Owyhee Ditch Company, he wants to share the cost of the project with the owners of Treasure Valley Mobile Home Village as it also borders the ditch.
Prior to comments from Warrington, Cummings said he received a letter, hand-delivered, by Michael Blackaby representing the Old Owyhee Ditch Company in support of piping the ditch.
During public comments, Warrington expressed his observations and reservations about the piping project saying, “We don’t want to have to take on that burden [of paying for it by ourselves].”
He then suggested, “Make the trailer park shoulder some of the costs,” indicating that the park be responsible for at least half.
As for receiving assistance with the project, Warrington said, “The city can help us, the irrigation district can help.”
Michael Blackaby, secretary for the Old Owyhee Ditch Irrigation District, took the podium next saying, “The board has always wanted it piped.”
Warrington asked Blackaby if the board could help with some of the costs, to which Blackaby replied, “I can’t speak for the board, but someone could ask.”
Commission member John Breidenbach’s questioned regarding whether this would be an issue the city has to revisit. In response, Chairman Ralph Poole suggested “to locate all open ditches in the city” as a way of curbing a similar issue with other properties in the future.
“As developments happen, we are going to run into these issues of who pays for what,” Cummings said.
Warrington reiterated that he feels in order to provide affordable housing, as the scope of the proposed subdivision aims to do, the variance being granted is necessary to achieve this end.