Nibley pinched by growing pains

NIBLEY – Amy Platt sat in a heated City Council meeting in September. Nearly 100 of her friends and neighbors had packed into the elementary school’s gymnasium to voice their opinions regarding the future of a resident’s land. The property owner, Boyd Schiess was in the middle of applying for a land conservation easement, something that would preserve the rural nature of his property indefinitely. There was only one problem: Nibley’s master plan called for a road to go right through that property.Many of those present stood to voice their support of Shiess. Some spoke of owner’s rights, others focused on the agricultural character of the community and still others seemed to merely voice their vendetta against development at large. After one woman spoke in favor of keeping the road, Platt felt encouraged to speak up. Platt is Shiess’s daughter, and runs a riding program called “Giddy-Up Go!” for disabled youth on the property.”If the road goes through there I won’t be able to continue that program,” Platt said at the meeting. “I intend to keep this property rural long after my father passes on.”Ultimately the city council removed the road from the plan in a close vote, 3-2.In a recent interview, Platt said that if the road had ever been built it may not have spelled the end of Giddy-Up Go!, now in its 12th year, but would have put a stop to many of the programs offered. With the help of volunteers, students in the program ride on horseback through the open fields and normally at the end of the summer the group sponsors a wagon ride on the property.===Platt’s family has been on the property, a 28-acre plat located on 4000 South in Nibley, for over 60 years. In that time Nibley has grown from a small farming community to one of the larger municipalities in Cache Valley. Platt said that such growth, and ensuing development, is inevitable, but joins with many Nibley residents who have voiced concerns in recent council meetings about how to handle the inflow.”I think it would be nice if it was slowed down,” Platt said. “They can’t handle the people they have now.”City Recorder Larry Ahnder said that in the 2000 census, Nibley’s population was 2,045 people. Today, not quite 10 years later, Ahnder said the population is estimated at over 5,000. In the last decade, he said, there has been an exponential surge of growth in Nibley. Even in the current economic downturn growth continues, with 77 building permits being approved by the city this last fiscal year, and 72 the year before.”Nobody is growing at all like us,” Ahnder said.Ahnder attributes this growth to a combination of efficiency and luck. Excellent city management and a prime geographical location–just minutes south of the county seat in Logan–establishing the demand, and recently large numbers of owners have sold at or around the same time, creating the supply.Through all this buying and selling, Nibley maintains a predominantly open, sub-urban residential and agricultural rural atmosphere. Most of the city’s growth, has taken place in the northwest quadrant, which was annexed into the city in 2002 Ahnder said. “We had some very forward thinking people in the 90s,” Ahnder said. “We have a plan and we have stayed up on it pretty good.”===Growth has certainly manifested itself in Nibley. The city’s second elementary school is nearing completion and plans for a reservoir are in place. Nibley also recently received over $650,000 from the county for an upgrade of its principal thoroughfare, 3200 South. Ahnder said that those moving into Nibley are predominantly first-home buyers with young families. There are currently more than 1,000 children under the age of 5, Ahnder said, a fact that warrants a measure of future planning.”The scary thing about that is 10 years from now we’ll have 1,000 teenagers,” Ahnder said. “We met with the school district (today) looking for property for a high school.”Cache County School District declined to comment.Platt and her neighbors are not the only ones that have noticed the changes in Nibley. The city currently straddles U.S. 89-91, the principal southern entrance into Cache Valley. In essentially the city’s first commercial endeavor a developer, approved by the council, has built a small strip mall aligning the highway. Across the road a row of contemporary townhomes, the city’s firstmultiple family residence development, stand adorned with a large “forsale” sign and waving flags.”I think the strip mall is hideous,” Melody Graulich, a Utah State University English professor who lives in Mt. Sterling said. Graulich said that the developments on U.S. 90-91–and not just those in Nibley – have essentially changed the look and feel of the valley.”Right now we feel like we’re entering an agricultural valley,” Graulich said. “(Now) you’ll come into Cache Valley thinking you’re entering a suburban area.”Graulich said all of the cities in the valley, Nibley included, have a responsibility beyond just those that live in their municipalities. Cache County taxpayers provided the $650,000 check for the Nibley road construction and, she feels, feel the effect of the highway development more than the actual residents of Nibley. “They don’t have to drive by it,” Graulich said.Ahnder, however, said that there have been essentially no complaints about either the strip mall or the townhomes at any point in their planning or construction. “Nobody protested it, nobody said anything against it,” Ahndersaid. “There’s been a lot of positive feedback.”===Regarding the development, Platt said she was unaware that the area was included in Nibley city limits and suggested that other residents may also be unaware.Nibley’s first commercial area is being slow to find its footing. In the wake of the economic recession the strip mall stands nearly empty, with only one vendor, Golf 365, currently occupying the space. Ahnder said the townhomes, on the other hand, are selling fast.In the months since the road was removed from the Schiess property, development and open space have been frequent topics in council meetings. Subdivisions have been denied, road beautification has been proposed, and residents have been frequently present, in slightly lesser numbers, to voice their concerns.Platt and her family had encouraged their neighbors to attend the meeting about their property, but she said she was surprised by the turnout. “Amazing, just awesome,” Platt said of her supporters at the public hearing. “It was really, really nice.”The flood of opinion shown that night at the elementary school, and in other meetings, has given the city council food for thought. Council members have frequently referenced that meeting in their deliberations, and any debate seems to involve a discussion on preserving open space and limiting urban sprawl.Whether or not the Shiess family’s political battle for their property opened any eyes, Platt is unsure. She has not attended any council meetings since the road was removed from the plan, though friends and neighbors have noticed a deliberative caution in the council’s most recent votes.”They are hoping that that’s what has happened,” Platt said.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!