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Sewer-pump compromise in South Jordan?

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A group of South Jordan residents who don't want a sewer pump moving in across the street may soon get their wish.

It's been a little more than two weeks since the residents who live near 11400 South and the Jordan River filed an appeal against the pump site, but the South Valley Sewer District has already approached the group with an attitude of compromise. It's a change from the district's tone from two weeks ago when South Valley Sewer District Manager Craig White said the utilities company would be willing to go to court to ensure the facility was built on the site in question.

Now, in the spirit of negotiation, the district may be willing to pay up to $1.5 million extra for the $8 million pump site and move it elsewhere. All the district wants in return from the residents is their support and payment of potentially slightly higher fees.

"We're trying to make a win-win out of this situation for everybody," White said. "We're willing to look at the options, and we have selected a couple of other sites ... but before we pursue those we want to make sure the citizens are in agreement and won't fight us as we move."

White said the district is considering two other sites, one that is to the north of the current location in a commercial area and one that is to the south in an undeveloped area. The pump site is an integral part of a new $134 million treatment plant being built in Riverton, White said.

The district raised its fees in July 2007 to help pay for the new plant. A contingency fund was built into the new revenue generated by the increased fees, but White says he's not sure if the contingency fund will be able to cover the additional $1.5 million that would be required to move the site. That won't be determined "until we get farther down the road," White said.

In the meantime, it's worth it to the district to pay more money and start the approval process over with a new site if it means the residents will be satisfied, White said.

"What it demonstrates is the willingness of the district's board to work with the neighbors and the surrounding property owners to be a good neighbor," White said. "It will cost slightly more, but our goal is to be good neighbors and to be able to work with our constituents."

White contacted South Jordan early last week to ask the city to put off having a public hearing on the residents' appeal until after the district has a chance to meet with the residents personally. The city agreed to delay the meeting with the residents' approval and the hopes that the situation can be resolved positively.

"It looks like this will end up being a win-win-win, but of course there is work to do and negotiations that need to take place," South Jordan City Manager Rick Horst said. "It's all looking very positive."

The district will need to reapply for a conditional use permit for the new site and repeat the approval process that is already completed for the site in question.

Residents who don't want the pump site to join their neighborhood say they're glad to have input on the situation, but they're not ready to dismantle the neighborhood e-mail updates or stop circulating fliers about the project until they know it's not coming.

Rallying the troops is becoming familiar to these residents. After disputing whether building requirements were followed when their basements flooded and fighting to preserve the neighborhood park, this is the third time the neighborhood has battled City Hall.

"We raised our voices in a couple of things and we've been heard, so obviously, it's very important for people to be involved in what's going on," resident Heather Miller said. "It will make a difference."


E-mail: achoate@desnews.com