City Council Minutes

Thursday, August 10,2000



MINUTES OF THE ST. GEORGE CITY COUNCIL WORK MEETING AUGUST 10, 2000, 4:00 P.M. ADMINISTRATION CONFERENCE ROOM PRESENT: Mayor Daniel McArthur Councilmember Suzanne Allen Councilmember Bob Whatcott Councilmember Larry Gardner Councilmember Rod Orton Councilmember Sharon Isom (present by intercom) City Attorney Jonathan Wright City Recorder Gay Cragun EXCUSED: City Manager Gary Esplin OPENING: Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. The invocation was offered by Kent Perkins. Mayor McArthur invited a Scout to introduce himself. DISCUSSION RE LAND TRADE WITH WASHINGTON COUNTY: Also present for this discussion were Washington County Commissioners Jim Eardley and Alan Gardner and Washington County Planner John Willie. Mr. Eardley explained the County would like to trade property it owns located near the City’s softball complex for City property located on the Red Hill near the County yard site and City animal shelter. He stated both parties would benefit from this trade, but agreement needs to be had on the west boundary line and whether it should stop at the road or extend beyond it. Councilmember Gardner commented he believed the boundary would extend only to the road as the City is looking at an expanded use of the wilderness park area and does not want road sheds expanded in that direction. He advised the City should allow expansion of the parkway and access to the narrows. Commissioner Eardley explained when he visited with City Manager Gary Esplin several months ago, they discussed the boundary line extending beyond the road. However, the County wishes to be flexible and cooperate. However, there are problems with the many elevation changes on the property on the Red Hill and it will be very costly to grade to make it useable, and it would change the looks of the area. For this reason they discussed the west boundary line as extending past the road. Mayor McArthur commented he would drive up to the area to refresh his memory, but it was his feeling that everything south and east of the road would be OK to trade. Councilmember Gardner commented he did not remember the conversation that way. Commissioner Eardley commented that very little grading would be needed if the property were extended west past the road and this would be beneficial if the property were ever reclaimed as a wilderness park. Councilmember Gardner commented if anything were done to change the land, he did not see it coming back into use. Commissioner Gardner commented the County would not immediately fence the land and would agree to help relocate the road around the edge if the time ever came that it needed to be moved. Commissioner Eardley advised the County would work with the City to maintain the right-of-way. Councilmember Gardner commented that the City is often criticized for allowing development of hillsides, and the Red Hill is an area the City has focused on to try and improve aesthetics. A trade of this City property may not be in line with the General Plan. He advised that his recollection of the conversation was that a little expansion to the west could be accommodated, but not to the road or beyond, as that was more than the City wanted to give up. He advised it would be best to look at the property again. Councilmember Orton suggested scheduling a joint field trip with the County Commissioners. Mayor McArthur advised his recollection of the conversation was that the trade could take place for property up to the road, but not beyond. Commissioner Eardley commented the County would be trading the City twice as much acreage as the County would be receiving. He advised the type of use the County proposed for the Red Hill property would be open area with a few storage facilities. Councilmember Whatcott inquired if the City was amenable to moving and extending the road. Mayor McArthur replied it would have to be looked at. DISCUSSION RE SENIOR CITIZEN CENTER: Also present for this discussion were Washington County Commissioners Alan Gardner and Jim Eardley and Washington County Planner John Willie. Mr. Willie advised that plans for a new senior citizen center are currently being drawn, but a site is needed. Commissioner Gardner commented there is not enough room at the current site, and perhaps a trade could be done with the School District on the west portion of property. Mr. Willie commented the Senior Citizen Center should be near the City center, and not in a residential area. It was suggested perhaps space could be made available for a Senior Citizens Center in the downtown area property the City is purchasing from the School District. Mayor McArthur advised the City is paying $9.50 a sq. ft. for this property and at present is in the process of planning the area. Commissioner Eardley stated he would like to see the Senior Citizen Center located there. Councilmember Gardner suggested that perhaps another site would be more workable rather than take property needed for the downtown project. Mr. Willie commented two acres of property was not needed for the Senior Citizen Center, as a two story building is being planned. However, a residential area is not appropriate for the Senior Citizen Center. Mayor McArthur advised a 35’ high building could be located in a residential zone, and the existing site is satisfactory as it is close to the City center and everyone knows where it is. Councilmember Orton commented that the City made a commitment to save the heritage of the downtown area, and due to the cost of the property, the City could not justify using half of the acquired property for a Senior Citizen Center. Councilmember Gardner commented he was not opposed to exploring the idea of locating the Senior Citizen Center on the City’s newly acquired downtown property, but he would hate to see the heart of the property used for this purpose. However, if a Senior Citizen Center could be built in conjunction with the project, the City would be well served to have the Senior Citizen Center in this area. Commissioner Eardley advised he was not expecting a commitment at this time. DISCUSSION RE WASHINGTON COUNTY LIBRARY: Commissioner Gardner advised the Library Board was not excited about using the Arts Building for the library as it would not give them optimum use. The architects indicate the Arts Building would be their second choice. He then reviewed with the Mayor and City Council several site plans and proposals. Councilmember Isom suggested soliciting citizen input before any decision was made. Commissioner Gardner advised there would have to be a bond election. Larry Horton expressed concerns about disruptions if the present library were remodeled. He advised if the new library were built where the School Board Office is now, library staff would be able to stay in the library until the new building were built, and the old library could then be used for another purpose. Library staff prefers this option. Councilmember Orton commented this would still leave the old library which does not fit in the area. Councilmember Gardner inquired which option would be popular with the citizens. He inquired about the cost to renovate the lower floor of the Arts Building. Commissioner Gardner replied the lower floor of the Arts Building would not provide enough room for the library, as at least two floors would be needed. Larry Horton advised that using the Arts Building would not provide the kind of space needed for library patrons. Councilmember Gardner commented there is a commitment in the community to keep historic buildings, and there are only certain uses which can be made of them. He stated he was troubled the Library Board would back away from the opportunity to use the historic Arts Building. Mayor McArthur advised that while old buildings have drawbacks, it is good to make accommodations for those drawbacks and utilize them. He commented that the library building did not fit in the area architecturally. Councilmember Gardner advised that Doug Alder suggested the old library could be made to blend using vines, shrubs and other landscaping methods. Councilmember Orton stated he felt the downtown was the right area for the library. Mayor McArthur advised he appreciated the commitment to keep the library in the downtown area, and with the addition of the proposed parking structure, parking will be more plentiful for library patrons. Commissioner Gardner commented that parking will be a critical issue, and while he once had a strong feeling from the City about use of the Arts Building, he is now getting a mixed message. Councilmember Orton inquired what the City would do to house all of its Leisure Services personnel if the Arts Building were used as a library. Mr. Horton commented that Doug Alder does not want the library moved. The library serves 1200 people every day six days a week, and new space is needed to accommodate the general library itself and its patrons. Councilmember Gardner inquired about a time line. He was advised a special election will be held in one year. He suggested another planning session would be useful, or formation of a committee to review all possible solutions. Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins advised that the City appropriated $145,000 last year for the second phase of remodeling the lower level of the Arts Building. This project was forestalled because of the library issue. $145,000 has again been reallocated this year, and he was advised to proceed with planning and letting the project out for bid. He inquired of the City Council if they would prefer he stall the project again, or proceed. Councilmember Gardner inquired of Mr. Perkins if the Arts Building met the needs of the Leisure Services Department and the community. Mr. Perkins replied the building accommodates needs as far as growth and uses. The third phase of the remodeling project consists of the upstairs area, and with addition of an elevator, the entire building will be totally useable. If the building were used for a library, the entire interior would have to be gutted. Commissioner Eardley commented it appeared use of the Arts Building was not going to work. Community Development Director Bob Nicholson suggested formation of a committee comprising the City, County, and School District, and give them six months to master plan the two block area in the downtown. Commissioner Gardner commented the County could still proceed with remodeling the current library as it would not affect master planning of the two block area. Mr. Horton inquired if library staff could use the old gymnasium while the library was being remodeled. He was informed if the timing were right, it could be used. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that the School District has the right to use the old gymnasium for a minimum of five years, and they would need to be consulted. SCHEDULE WORK MEETINGS: The August 24, 2000 work meeting will be held with downtown property owners. The August 31, 2000 work meeting will consist of a field trip to view the site of a possible land trade with the County near the animal shelter. Interested parties are to meet on site at 4:00 p.m. DISCUSSION RE PROXIMITY REQUIREMENTS: City Attorney Jonathan Wright distributed a memo outlining suggested amendments to the City’s alcohol ordinance, including proximity requirements. Councilmember Isom advised she agreed with the memo, but if the City Council could not reach a consensus, a committee from the community should be formed to meet with the Liquor Board in Salt Lake City to discuss some problems the City currently faces with regard to its alcohol ordinance. Councilmember Gardner commented that perhaps Mr. Wright’s suggestions would solve the outstanding issues. Mayor McArthur commented his personal opinion was that he did not want the proximity requirement reduced, but a uniform way of measuring it should be had. City Attorney Jonathan Wright commented that review of the method of measuring the proximity and a decision on a limitation should be made. He suggested the proximity limitation between licensed premises be deleted. He stated he thought the original motive behind the proximity limitation was for beer halls as the City did not want five pubs locating together because of the negative impacts. Councilmember Orton expressed concern if the proximity requirement were eliminated. Councilmember Isom commented it would be easier for enforcement if the City’s proximity requirement was the same as the State’s. City Attorney Jonathan Wright commented that the City’s current alcohol ordinance would prohibit a licensed premise from vending beer if a church or school located within a 600’ radius. The proposed amendment to the ordinance would put the determination on the school or church to decide if they wanted to locate within 600’ of a licensed alcohol establishment. Councilmember Orton inquired if the ordinance amendment addressed the situation when a licensed beer vendor within 600’ of a church or school changed hands. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised the proposed amendment would allow the transfer of the license. The licensee would still have to go through the approval process, but he or she would not be precluded from obtaining the license simply because they were located within 600’ of a school or church. Councilmember Whatcott commented that in reality this is how the City has been operating, as it has never taken away a license from a licensed premise because of a church or school locating within 600’. City Attorney Jonathan Wright commented this ordinance amendment is simply a housekeeping item. Councilmember Gardner inquired how the State measured proximity. City Attorney Jonathan Wright replied the State measures 600’ from the nearest entrance of the outlet along the shortest route a pedestrian or vehicle would take, whichever is closer to the property boundary of the public or private school, church, public library, public playground, school playground, or park. He advised that regardless of what the City Council decided about the proximity limitation, he suggested the other amendments to the ordinance be adopted. Mayor McArthur inquired of Councilmembers if they wanted to put the ordinance amendments on an agenda. Councilmember Isom responded that she was in favor of it. Councilmember Whatcott commented that the way the ordinance is written now, every restaurant that vends beer and is within 600’ of another restaurant who vends beer, is illegal. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that currently a proximity limitation exists between licensed premises, regardless of what type. The current proximity limitation between licensed premises was an oversight in that it was left in when the alcohol ordinance was amended. Therefore, staff recommends that it be deleted now. Staff also recommends that the City adopt the State standard for measuring proximity. There is no recommendation on proximity requirements, however, for off-premise licensees. Attorney Shawn Farris advised he represented Miramonte LLC who operates the Sinclair convenience store and Quiznos on Bluff. If the City entirely removed the proximity requirement for a Class A off-premise license, the City may end up with a situation where there is a convenience store across the street from a park, and it may create a situation the City does not want. He stated the City’s alcohol ordinance is lacking in its written form because it does not state an intended purpose. He advised he checked a dozen other city ordinances in the State, and St. George’s is the most conservative in proximity requirements. He suggested the City study other cities’ requirements to make an educated decision on why St. George uses the proximity requirement it does. Mayor McArthur advised he liked the present proximity requirement. Mr. Farris commented that compared to other convenience stores in the neighborhood, his client was losing $500-$700 a day in sales because they did not have a beer license. Councilmember Gardner asked for statistics. Councilmember Orton advised that a major grocery store in St. George would average approximately $1,200 a day in beer sales. He advised he was shocked at Mr. Farris’ figures and would be interested to see where they came from. Mr. Farris commented his client’s lack of a beer license was financially impacting their business. Councilmember Orton inquired of Mr. Farris what the ordinance would have to require to make his client’s store eligible to sell beer. Mr. Farris replied the proximity requirement for off-premise beer licenses should be removed or changed to 300’. Mayor McArthur advised that many citizens have asked him why the ordinance should be changed. He stated Mr. Farris’ client’s hardship was self-inflicted and was not the City’s fault. Mr. Farris stated that even though he knew the City Attorney’s suggestion that the proximity requirement be removed entirely would be in the best interests of his client, it would not be in the best interest of the City as a whole as there may be times the City wants the proximity requirement. That is the reason he researched other cities’ proximity requirements. Councilmember Orton complimented legal staff on addressing concerns raised with the alcohol ordinance, and commented he would hate to see the ordinance changed for one applicant. Mr. Farris commented that many people in the community have taken an interest in the subject, and a petition left on the counter of his client’s convenience store has gathered 1,033 signatures in two weeks favoring modification of the ordinance. He stated there is nothing magical about the City’s 600’ proximity requirement, and it was arbitrary and capricious. He advised his client feels strongly that when the City asked for more improvements to the project, he was willing to do them. However, this issue fell through the cracks and should have been addressed much earlier. His client now has an investment with a financial detriment, and even though his client does not support beer sales because of his religious beliefs, his other partners are pushing the issue. He stated the City Council should look at the purpose of the proximity requirement and what is trying to be avoided. Councilmember Allen advised she would rather not change the proximity requirement, but would rather consider a variance. Mayor McArthur commented Mr. Farris’ request for a variance was already denied by the City Council, and there has to be a specific reason for a variance in any event. Councilmember Allen agreed there would have to be grounds for a variance, and she did not want to change the ordinance. Mr. Farris commented the issue could still be solved while protecting the community. City Attorney Jonathan Wright inquired of Mr. Farris as to the justification or condition that was unique to this store that did not apply to any other property in St. George. Mr. Farris replied the ingress and egress to the church was unique, and the Texaco across the street from the church was grandfathered in and then changed hands. Councilmember Orton replied this happened before adoption of the ordinance. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that when the church built, the Texaco was already located across the street. Mr. Farris commented his client was suffering a financial detriment. City Attorney Jonathan Wright replied this was self-imposed. Mr. Farris inquired about the purpose for having a proximity requirement for off-premise licensees. Councilmember Orton replied it was in place so that someone who already had drunk a six pack of beer could not pull into another store for a second six pack, and then hit a child crossing the street to a playground. He advised that many beer drinkers continue to drive after they drink. City Attorney Jonathan Wright explained that the City has the ability, power and right to regulate where liquor is sold. He stated he thought the only unique circumstance that applied to this case was the Texaco that sells beer located across the street from the church. Mayor McArthur commented that St. George is a unique community, and does not want to be like every other city. City Attorney Jonathan Wright commented the City is not talking about prerogative legislation, and its position is defensible. The applicant has not brought anything different before the Council than when the variance was denied. Mr. Farris advised that since that time his client has faced a financial impact. City Attorney Jonathan Wright advised that was a self-imposed hardship and not a basis for a variance. Mr. Farris inquired as to the justifiable reason for the proximity requirement. Mayor McArthur advised a decision would not be made tonight, and the matter will be scheduled on a City Council agenda. Community Development Director Bob Nicholson displayed a map showing existing schools, churches, parks, and beer licensees. He advised that all non-conforming uses were existing licensed premises at the time schools, churches, or parks were built. Mayor McArthur advised the matter would be scheduled on the September 7, 2000 City Council agenda. Mr. Farris inquired of City Council members if there was something distinguishing that would make a difference in this situation. Councilmember Whatcott replied it was not the City Council’s responsibility to find a solution to Mr. Farris’ client’s problem. Councilmember Gardner commented the safety, welfare, and health of St. George’s citizens, or secondary adverse effects, becomes the justification for the proximity requirement. Councilmember Orton commented that in the last 6-7 years many convenience stores have been built without any conflict with the City’s ordinance. Mayor McArthur commented an intent can be inserted in the City’s alcohol ordinance, if desired. Councilmember Whatcott commented that if Mr. Farris could promise that everyone who bought a six pack of beer would drive home and drink it, he would not have a problem with deleting the proximity requirement. However, many will drink and drive and put everyone in jeopardy. DISCUSSION RE RECREATION FEES: Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins advised that periodically the City reviews its recreation fee structure according to its philosophy that as many recreation facilities as possible should be self-sustaining. He advised that swimming pools are black holes, but the recreation program takes a different view that each program should pay for itself. To this end, pay for officials, supplies, awards etc. all come out of fees paid. Administrative salary costs are covered in the General Fund and are not figured into the actual cost of a program. The Recreation Department has suggested it is important to increase revenue or else the City will run the risk of reducing participation potential. He advised that if $5.00 were added to each youth league registration fee, $22,000 more could be generated. At the same time, there might be a potential for some to drop out if they could not afford the fee. As a result of this possibility, youth in the community who cannot afford the fees have been identified, and scholarships are available for them. Assistant Leisure Services Director Herb Basso advised that low income families do not have to ask for the scholarship, as they have been identified through other means and have been told to simply go to the Recreation Center and register. Councilmember Isom commented that the City should do all it can to make its programs self-sustaining as not everything in the community should be subsidized. Mr. Perkins advised that adult leagues have to pay for themselves. If a high enough fee is charged at the Recreation Center, it could break even, but it could also cause exclusivity. He reviewed the proposed fee increases with the Mayor and City Council. Mayor McArthur inquired if citizens complained that recreation fees were too high. Mr. Basso replied he has not received any complaints about the fees being too high, other than from non-residents who question the difference in fees at Sand Hollow Aquatic Center. Mr. Perkins advised it was important to look at raising more revenue, and he suggested that the fees for non-residents at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center be raised. He advised that 17.5% of the use of the facility is by Santa Clara residents, yet they pay only 12.8% of the revenue. 10% use of the facility is by Ivins residents, but they pay only 6% of the revenue. Outside area use is 14%, yet they pay 16% of the revenue. 58% of use of the facility comes from St. George residents, yet they pay 65% of the revenue. He advised that by adding another $.50 to each non-resident admission, $15,000 would be generated. Councilmember Whatcott commented he did not think it was fair to increase fees because other cities are taking advantage of passes at Sand Hollow. Councilmember Orton commented the increase seems to punish non-residents, while the City is trying to create a positive experience for all. He said the City spends thousands of dollars attracting tourists, and then charges them more. Councilmember Allen inquired what a St. George citizen would be charged at the Orem recreation center. Councilmember Whatcott replied that every city in the world charges higher fees for non-residents. Private enterprise, however, charges everyone the same. Councilmember Whatcott commented that Park City is the only other city in Utah that charges a non-resident golf rate. Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins advised that originally the City’s consultant advised the City to charge fees of $5.50 to $6.00 at Sand Hollow. There is also a proposal to add tax to golf fees at City courses. The City currently does not charge tax at the pools, and this is another option. However, it would be more difficult for staff and patrons to deal with odd change, rather than a flat rate. Councilmember Orton commented he disagreed with that philosophy because private businesses do not try and make it convenient for their customers by not charging tax. Councilmember Whatcott complimented Mr. Perkins and Mr. Basso on their efforts, and suggested that golf fees be examined annually due to inflation and increased expenses. He stated recreation fees should also be reviewed annually. Mayor McArthur advised this matter would be scheduled on a City Council agenda for further discussion. Councilmember Gardner clarified that the proposal increase to recreation fees would generate an additional $60,000. ADJOURN TO EXECUTIVE SESSION: A motion to adjourn to an executive session to approve executive session minutes was made by Councilmember Allen. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Gardner. Mayor McArthur called for a vote as follows: Councilmember Allen - aye Councilmember Orton - aye Councilmember Whatcott - aye Councilmember Gardner - aye The motion carried. RECONVENE AND ADJOURN: A motion to reconvene and adjourn was made by Councilmember Whatcott. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Allen. Mayor McArthur called for a vote as follows: Councilmember Isom - aye Councilmember Allen - aye Councilmember Orton - aye Councilmember Gardner - aye Councilmember Whatcott - aye The motion carried and the meeting adjourned. _______________________________ Gay Cragun, City Recorder