The Westview Heights’ development team was thrown a curveball during its review of construction plans by the Huxley City Council last week.
Road grading was already underway for the first of two phases that will bring more than 100 new homes to the area, and final approval of construction plans was the only item keeping the project from advancing — a formality that wasn’t expected to bring any surprises to the developer.
As council discussed the project, the question was raised about putting a granular subbase underneath the concrete to aid in the longevity of the new road. The discussion caught the developer off-guard.
“That’s the first we are hearing of it,” said Erin Ollendike, engineer for the project. “It increases the cost quite a bit. They are already out there grading, so their grades are set for the roadway. Now they will have to lower it more. Usually, those standards are set in the code, so there is clear direction beforehand.”
Several members of the council thought they had set the granular subbase as a standard last year, but even after the council moved the agenda item to the end of the meeting so they could search the old minutes, nothing was located to support that.
“It was suggested strongly, but there was no formal action,” said City Administrator John Haldeman.
The council hopes to get a minimum of 15 additional years of life out of the requirement of a subbase and to decrease the overall maintenance costs of area roadways. Most cities in the area, including the fast-growing cities of Ankeny and Waukee, do not require the subbase, according to Ollendike.
SUDAS (Statewide Urban Design and Specifications Program) design standards call for seven inches of concrete over six inches of granular subbase as minimum thicknesses, which was the standard council members were aiming for.
“SUDAS allows for it, but doesn’t require it,” said Councilman Greg Mulder. “It gives you the design standards for it, and each community can pick whether they want that standard. I thought that’s what we had done with the last project.”
Westview Heights is slated to add more than 100 new homes to the northwest side of Huxley, just north of the high school and west of Highway 69. The project has already drawn some concerns from residents in that area with the increase in projected traffic and with water runoff. The requirement of the granular subbase would help with the drainage of the roadway.
“My worry is that we haven’t properly communicated with all parties that this was a consideration,” said Mayor Craig Henry. “We’re sitting here now wanting to approve construction plans and we want to throw a curve. My suggestion to council is that we either approve it as it is before us, or that we work to get this standard out so it’s clearly communicated with future developments.”
Councilman Rick Peterson modified his motion to approve the plans with seven inches of concrete over six inches of granular subbase, with the possibility of allowing six inches of concrete pending engineer review and approval. The council approved the motion 4-1, with Councilman Dave Jensen abstaining.
Roger Wheeler, realtor for Dickson Jensen (the developer of Westview Heights), was frustrated by the last-second change.
“It just doesn’t feel like the appropriate time to make that change,” said Wheeler.
In other council news:
• The Ballard Community School District is seeking permission from the city to utilize the Safe Room during the upcoming school year for temporary use as the middle school cafeteria. Cafeteria tables would be stored in the back room of the Safe Room and set up/tore down daily until construction on the cafeteria is complete. Council decided to discuss the matter during their work session.
• The water tower is scheduled to get a bath. The council unanimously approved the cleaning of the exterior of the Huxley water tower by the National Wash Authority.
• There was discussion regarding a resolution to approve the installation of sidewalk at the sports complex, but the discussion was tabled in order to do a more in-depth study of the needs for sidewalks and trails in that area.