City Council Minutes

Thursday, November 9,2000



ST. GEORGE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES WORK MEETING NOVEMBER 9, 2000, 4:00 p.m. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS/CONFERENCE ROOM PRESENT: Mayor Daniel McArthur Councilmember Rod Orton Councilmember Sharon Isom Councilmember Larry Gardner Councilmember Bob Whatcott City Manager Gary Esplin City Attorney Jonathan Wright City Recorder Gay Cragun EXCUSED: Councilmember Suzanne Allen OPENING: Due to the number of people in attendance, the meeting was held in the City Council Chambers. Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. The invocation was offered by Mr. Blazzard. DISCUSSION RE GENERATORS AT WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT: Mayor McArthur explained this was a difficult year for power everywhere, and up until this past summer the City has not needed to run the diesel generators at the wastewater treatment plant. He explained the three reasons the generators were located there: (1) to act as a second source of power for the wastewater treatment plant in case of a shut-down; (2) to boost voltage on the west side of town; and (3) to shave peaks if needed so as not to charge power users a higher rate. This past summer the City had to pay $3,000,000 from its reserves in order to meet the high cost of power, and this increase was not passed along to users. Councilmember Gardner commented it was fortunate the City had the reserve fund to use, and the City chose to absorb the loss rather than pass it along to the consumers. Even with use of the diesel generators, the City still lost approximately $1,000,000 a month during the summer, and without them, the loss would have been much greater. Mayor McArthur commented the City is trying to purchase more firm power so the diesel generators will only have to be used as in the past. The intent of the City is not to have to use them all the time, but to use them to supplement when needed. Councilmember Gardner commented that according to the chart distributed by Wayne McArthur, use of the diesel generators saved the City almost $800,000. If they were used more, the City could have saved an additional $500,000, but in deference to the neighborhood, they were not. He commented when discussions were held concerning their placement at the wastewater treatment plant, it was his understanding they would be placed behind a hill and out of sight. He did not realize they had been placed on top of a hill. Teresa Olsen explained she lived directly behind the generators. She advised Wayne McArthur informed her the entire power industry has changed, and if there is another hot, dry summer, the generators will have to be used again. She showed a video of the generators and advised they have been running 10-12 hours a day from May to September. She read minutes from a meeting held in 1997 and advised that residents were assured the generators would be used for emergency back-up only and rarely run. A permit has been obtained by the City to run the generators up to 1,358 hours a year which equates to 8 hours a day for 5-6 months, but a permit could have been obtained for 500 hours. According to the state, air quality tests or environmental impact studies are not required because the plant is so small, but portable monitoring is required once a year. Concern has been expressed at neighborhood meetings about soot that has to be cleaned from pools from the generators. She advised a majority of the power generated by the generators is being sold to Hurricane and Washington to decrease their power rates and is not benefitting St. George. The big issues are noise, pollution, and the impact on property and resale values. She suggested the generators be relocated to an industrial area. She advised she was in possession of a petition signed by 120 residents of Bloomington in favor of relocation of the generators. Jim Slemboski advised he moved to Bloomington last year and lives in the house closest to the plant. He expressed concern with the integrity of the political and government system when addressing community concerns. He complimented Mayor McArthur for being responsive to complaints concerning odor. He advised the generators are especially troubling as economic issues are involved, and the Bloomington community understood the generators were to be used as an emergency supplemental power source only and not as an economic enterprise. The community was not told the generators would be an economic resource for the City and power sold to other communities. He advised it was difficult to have peaceful, enjoyable use of his property, and the noise level is louder that depicted in the video. The noise can be heard from inside his home, and up to one mile away. He suggested that the enterprise might constitute a taking, and use and enjoyment of his property is being diminished for the benefit of government and economic interests. He advised the conditional use granted for the generators should have related to anticipated use of the facility, and as the use has changed, more review should be done. He suggested ways to address the problem, such as mufflers and filters. Teresa Olsen responded that this type of diesel engine cannot be modified, and can only be regulated by how much it is run. A low nitrogen oxide filter could be installed, but it would be extremely expensive, perhaps even more expensive than relocating the generators. Mr. Slemboski inquired if the generators were really an efficient process for producing power and if all costs had been factored in. He commented he wanted to trust elected officials that when they say something it will be done, and citizens expect it will be respected and adhered to. Byron McLeese advised he has lived in Bloomington since 1970, and in 1997 at the time of placement of the diesel engines at the wastewater treatment plant, he was Chairman of the Bloomington Community Council. He advised at that time residents of Bloomington expressed concern with noise, pollution, and unsightliness of the engines. The matter was discussed, and the City made certain assurances, which were capsulized in a letter from Wayne McArthur to him. During construction, Mr. McArthur contacted him to advise the smokestacks would have to be raised 14", which made him believe the City cared about the residents. Mr. McLeese advised the letter states the purpose of the diesel engines is purely for emergencies and they would not be operated more than 150 hours per year, and the berm would shield the actual facility and be sufficient to hide the physical plant as well as minimize noise. Contamination was not an issue because the plant would only be run for a few hours. At that time a permit had not been obtained, but he was assured a permit would be obtained for 150 hours per year only. The permit the City holds now is for 1,358 hours, which is considerably different and constitutes a brand new program. He inquired why the plant was not natural gas, and advised he was informed it was because the City had a chance to purchase the diesel engines at a good price, and since they would be used for emergencies only, natural gas was not warranted. The letter from Mr. McArthur states that if the market ever changed to the point that the engines would be operated more hours, the City would convent to natural gas. He suggested the engines be enclosed if they continue to run and be converted to natural gas, and the City honor the promises made to the neighborhood. Councilmember Gardner replied that the City Council understands the problem and wants to focus on options and solutions. He suggested several recommendations: (1) quit running the plant completely which would result in the City losing its investment; (2) screening with different materials such as dirt or evergreens; (3) use of scrubbers and mufflers; (4) move the generators to a new location; or (5) enclosing them. He advised the City is willing to look at all option to find a solution. He suggested that staff return with recommendations and costs in order to make a decision. City Manager Gary Esplin advised staff was not prepared to make a presentation tonight, and suggested another meeting be held at a later date. Garrett Bangerter commented that a berm may hide the physical facility, but the smoke and particulates cannot be hidden. He advised the definition of an "emergency" would be 2-4 days, not four months, and as the demand for power increases, a lack of planning on the City’s part does not constitute an emergency for Bloomington residents. He suggested the best option for resolving the problem is relocation, or cutting back on use of the generators to emergency use only. Councilmember Gardner advised the City is being aggressive in trying to locate other sources of firm power. Byron McLeese advised another option would be to leave the plant like it is and operate it only 150 hours per year. Water and Power Director Wayne McArthur advised it would take staff 30-60 days to determine costs for each option, and by then the City should also know if it is successful in its bid in the Resource 2000 project. He advised this award of bid would be the ultimate solution and would supply enough firm power for the City to enable it to return to the previous use of the generators. This issue will again be discussed at the first work meeting in January. Councilmember Isom inquired of Water and Power Director Wayne McArthur if until the first of the year the City could abide by its original agreement for use of the generators. Mr. McArthur replied the generators are very economical to run and the plan is to economically dispatch the plant because of the cost involved. Washington, Hurricane, and Santa Clara are also owners in the plant and receive power from the plant. UAMPS makes the decision to turn the generators on based upon recommendations of the local cities. Councilmember Gardner inquired, for sake of clarification, if the generators would be running until the first of the year. Mr. McArthur replied that they would be running. Mayor McArthur added the generators were used to shave peaks, winter or summer, but the intent is to not be continuous. Doug Fife commented that a contract was a contract, and the generators should only be run 150 hours per year. Teresa Olsen replied the conditional use permit contained no hourly stipulation. Councilmember Gardner advised the City of St. George owns 85% of the plant and receives 85% of the benefit, the same ratio as the 138kV line coming from Central. City Manager Gary Esplin advised the 138kV Committee is actually the entity who makes the decision on operation of the plant, and that Committee is made up of representatives from St. George, Washington, Santa Clara, and Hurricane. When UAMPS advises the City to turn the power on, it buys that power from UAMPS through a pooling agreement. The City knows what it costs to buy power on the market and what it costs to run the plant, and running the plant can save money. An economic emergency is still an emergency because of the high cost of summer power and the spot market, and the plant will be run until direction is received from the City Council to not run it. DISCUSSION RE POLICY ISSUES WITH SUHBA: The meeting continued in the administration conference room. Carol Sapp, Executive Officer of the Southern Utah Homebuilders Association, reviewed outstanding policy issues and advised she wanted to add the issue of modified curbs. Rick Rosenberg advised field trips were taken with several Councilmembers, and out of 30 cars parked along modified curbs, only two were actually parked on the curb or sidewalk. He advised that even on the narrowest of streets, there is enough room to feel comfortable and the curb is abrupt enough to know when you drive up over it. He advised that homebuilders want to reduce the high cost of waste from high-back curb cuts and are requesting the ability to use modified curbs with a sidewalk or planter next to it in areas of low traffic on residential access streets, and not streets which are a thoroughfare to another neighborhood. With regard to the thickness of sidewalks, 4" is adequate if the base is properly prepared and the subgrade is good. In any event, the thickness would not be less than 4". Councilmember Whatcott inquired for clarification purposes if Mr. Rosenberg was requesting a minimum standard of 4", with a geo tech deciding if additional thickness was needed. Mr. Rosenberg replied that was correct, and commented that most sidewalk failures are base-related. Linda Kirkpatrick advised that currently the City’s Encroachment Officer has to inspect every curb cut, and use of a modified curb would save the City this time. Councilmember Gardner commented he found the modified curbs appealing as they provided a continuous flow throughout the neighborhood and they drew traffic to the outer edge of the asphalt to park. Assistant City Engineer Jay Sandberg advised he did not know modified curbs were going to be discussed, and advised that many other cities had discontinued use of modified curbs as people tended to park on them. He advised that other cities who discontinued their use did so based on safety concerns, and those cities who still allow them choose to ignore those safety concerns. He advised he would like the opportunity to take Councilmembers on a field trip, and that he did not know the City was considering placing sidewalks immediately adjacent to modified curbs. He advised City staff was opposed to this concept and suggested planter strips be required adjacent to all modified curbs. Mr. Sandberg advised that in areas with modified curbs, residents use boards and other materials to flatten out the approaches to their driveways. Ms. Sapp advised that SUHBA concurs with the City’s written policy on detention basins. She inquired if the City’s policy was to maintain planter strips on public streets greater than 66’. Mr. Esplin replied it was the City’s policy that it had the choice to maintain planter strips on streets at least 66’ wide if they were installed to City standards. However, there could be no access from the 66’ street to individual properties. Mr. Rosenberg inquired if the City would maintain a planter strip in a public subdivision that backed onto a 50’ street. Mr. Esplin replied that the City would not maintain it. Gail Maxwell requested clarification of the City’s recommendation for placing sidewalk adjacent to modified curbs. City Manager Gary Esplin replied the issue was one of safety. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that in addition to car doors encroaching onto sidewalks placed adjacent to a curb, so do mailboxes, which in effect reduces the actual width of the sidewalk and creates a safety problem. City Manager Gary Esplin explained staff’s position that a 5’ sidewalk be required if placed adjacent to a high back curb. If less than that is desired, a planter strip is recommended for placement between the sidewalk and curb. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised the modern trend in land planning is to place the planter strip between the curb and sidewalk. Paul Jensen advised he would like the opportunity to use the mountable curb in his Desert Hills development. Rick Rosenberg again asked if the City would consider maintenance of a planter strip that abuts a road less than 66’ in width. City Manager Gary Esplin replied the applicant could petition the City Council for consideration. Brooks Pace commented that the City’s policy of not maintaining sewer in private roads is a double taxation issue and is not logical as there is no one in the area to perform this service and therefore they are not maintained adequately. Public Works Director Larry Bulloch advised there is someone available who will come to St. George to perform this service. Mr. Pace suggested the City maintain sewer in private developments the same as it maintains water and electrical, as the residents have already paid for the service through impact fees. Mr. Bulloch replied it would take a 10-15% rate increase to maintain sewer in private streets and would represent a 30-40% increase in infrastructure. Mr. Bulloch commented that private developments now comprise an entire segment of the community and it serves to divide the community as areas of town are not not accessible to the general public because of the private streets. Private developments have restricted access and amenities which the public cannot use. A public sewer serves the public while a private sewer system serves only one entity. He advised a line had to be drawn between public and private maintenance as rates have been established based on these definitions. If these definitions are changed, rates will have to be increased to give a credit to private entities. Gail Maxwell expressed disbelief that a 10-15% rate increase would be needed to maintain private sewer lines. City Manager Gary Esplin explained the City’s annual maintenance program includes cleaning every sewer line in the City to eliminate problems. Public Works Director Larry Bulloch explained that sewer impact fees also pay for sewage treatment and the water reuse program, and that everyone in the City has a private sewer line to maintain. City Manager Gary Esplin explained the reason the City maintains power and water lines in private subdivisions is because they are looped to the City’s system and are not closed systems like a private sewer system. Public Works Director Larry Bulloch advised private sewer systems were not being maintained properly as homeowners associations were not being advised they needed to maintain their infrastructure. To cure this the City now requires a formal notice be placed on plats that the private sewer is their responsibility. Carol Sapp inquired if private development was expected to maintain and design to the same standards as public development. She advised there have been cases in the past where creative leniency was allowed in terms of design standards, not construction standards, but now developers are being told more and more that they must meet the same standards, such as public streets. She advised the development community was losing the advantage of PDs and the ability to plan a community different from the rest. Darcy Stewart advised City staff recently instructed him that a PD has to use the same guidelines as a public subdivision. Larry Bulloch commented that the standards recently adopted by the City Council apply equally to all streets, public or private, i.e. street widths, curb and gutter, construction standards, etc. Gail Maxwell advised it was his understanding the standards recently adopted applied to public development only. Mayor McArthur clarified that construction standards are the same for private and public development, but design standards are different, such as setbacks, etc. Carol Sapp advised that construction standards have always been met and always will be, but flexibility is requested in design standards. Assistant City Engineer Jay Sandberg commented that the City’s design standards leave room for flexibility, but standards should be the same for public and private. Councilmember Gardner advised he understood the standards recently approved were for public only, and not for PD issues. Paul Jensen advised in private streets the past minimum cross section has been 25’ or 29’, and he never thought the discussion included reducing allowable right-of-way widths in PDs. Councilmember Gardner advised that issue had not been discussed, as the standards recently adopted dealt only with public streets. City Manager Gary Esplin commented the confusion arose about public street width when the Fire Chief expressed his opinion there should be no difference between public and private street widths due to safety issues. Rick Rosenberg commented there is no clarification in the City’s Subdivision Ordinance between private and public. Assistant City Engineer Jay Sandberg advised it was up to the Planning Commission and City Council, and not staff, to make certain decisions about requirements for private developments such as placement of sidewalks on both sides of the street, etc. Councilmember Whatcott suggested the same standards in effect the last ten years be applied to private developments. Public Works Director Larry Bulloch encouraged those present to attend a meeting on November 14 at 9:00 a.m. with the EPA and UDOT on the southern corridor issue. The EPA has taken the position that growth is out of control in Washington County and the southern corridor will destroy sensitive environment. Mayor McArthur requested written suggestions from the City Manager with regard to private development standards and policies, and advised that in the meantime, private development would be governed as in the past. Councilmember Gardner clarified that the City Council’s previous approval of design standards applied to public development only, and at present the status quo with regard to private development would apply. DISCUSSION CONCERNING POST OFFICE VEHICLES DRIVING ON SIDEWALKS: Mayor McArthur advised he was made aware of postal employees driving on the sidewalks. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised postal employees and vehicles are exempt from local governmental regulations, but he will ask them not to drive on the sidewalks for liability reasons. Police vehicles are not allowed to park on sidewalks or behind them, unless in response to an emergency. REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF IMPACT FEES: Mayor McArthur advised Mont Burton requests waiver of impact fees for an office building he is constructing on former Newby Buick property located north of St. George Blvd. as he says the lot will be used for the same purpose and no impact on the system will be created. City Manager Gary Esplin advised no impact fees had ever been paid on this property, and it does create drainage issues and should help pay for those costs. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised Mr. Burton is constructing a new building, and the City’s policy is that impact fees are due upon construction. Mayor McArthur suggested that the impact fee amount be reduced. City Manager Gary Esplin explained there is opportunity to have the impact fee cut in half if Mr. Burton will retain his drainage on his property. ADJOURN TO EXECUTIVE SESSION: A motion to adjourn to an executive session to discuss a property issue was made by Councilmember Isom. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Orton. Mayor McArthur called for a roll call vote, as follows: Councilmember Isom - aye Councilmember Orton - aye Councilmember Whatcott - aye Councilmember Gardner - aye The vote was unanimous and the motion carried. RECONVENE: A motion to reconvene was made by Councilmember Isom. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Whatcott. Mayor McArthur called for a vote as follows: Councilmember Isom - aye Councilmember Whatcott - aye Councilmember Gardner - aye Councilmember Orton - aye The vote was unanimous and the motion carried. COMPLAINT RE CONDITION OF DESERT EDGE INN: Mayor McArthur advised he received a letter from a marathon attendee about the deplorable condition of the Desert Edge Inn. POSSIBLE APPOINTEES TO WATER AND POWER BOARD: The following names were suggested for possible appointment to the Water and Power Board: Doug Glendenning Stuart Porter David Ferguson Ross Glauser Rick Schofield Craig Hammer Steve Wilson Jeff Norton Laina Frasier Jay Ence Scott Gubler Rod Savage Kim Hafen Jerry Lewis Kevin Ence Claudia Ashby Mona Given There are also three vacancies on the Airport Board. ADJOURN: A motion to adjourn was made by Councilmember Isom. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Orton. Mayor McArthur called for a vote, as follows: Councilmember Isom - aye Councilmember Orton - aye Councilmember Gardner - aye Councilmember Whatcott - aye The vote was unanimous and the motion carried. _____________________________ Gay Cragun, City Recorder