City Council

Tuesday, November 15,2005

NOVEMBER 15, 2005, 12:00 NOON

Mayor Dan McArthur
Council Member Rod Orton
Council Member Suzanne Allen
Council Member Larry Gardner
Council Member Bob Whatcott
Council Member Gail Bunker
City Manager Gary Esplin
City Attorney Shawn Guzman
City Recorder Gay Cragun

City Recorder Gay Cragun presented the canvass results of the 2005 Municipal General Election, as follows:

At Polls Provisional Late Absentees Total

Jacqueline Detton Capon 3,211 41 1 3,253
Daniel D. McArthur 5,991 58 6 6,055

Suzanne Allen 4,661 54 0 4,715
Ed Baca 3,690 33 4 3,727
Gail Bunker 4,863 56 1 4,920
Benjamin Nickle 4,309 40 4 4,353
Annette Fields (write-in) 6 0 0 6

Yes 2,965 41 3 3,009
No 5,395 53 2 5,450

MOTION: A motion was made by Council Member Gardner to approve the canvass results.
SECOND: The motion was seconded by Council Member Orton.
VOTE: Mayor McArthur called for a vote, and all voted aye. The motion carried.

Planning Commission members present for this discussion included Ron Bracken, Myrna Stout, Chapin Burkes, Ross Taylor, Vince Clayton and Kim Campbell.

City Manger Gary Esplin explained that the City has several requests from property owners in the Little Valley for increased density, and the City must determine if there are valid reasons to change the master plan, such as to acquire open space, trails, parks, and attainable housing. A public hearing will be held to further consider the matter. He stated he felt that the master plan should not be changed unless it benefitted the general citizenry.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson distributed a handout entitled ?Little Valley Area Planning Issues?. He explained that a month ago the City received three applications to amend the general plan in the Little Valley area. The area is currently classified as ?rural residential?, and the requests are to change the area to low density residential which would allow up to four units per acre, doubling the current density. He suggested three options: (1) leaving the density at up to two units per acre, (2) increasing the density to up to four units per acre, or (3) establishing a base density of one unit per acre and offering a density bonus in exchange for trails, open space, parks, and attainable housing.

Mayor McArthur commented that not only the Little Valley area must be considered for attainable housing, but the entire community. However, design standards are first needed.

City Manager Gary Esplin stated that if the master plan is to be changed, it was critical there was benefit to the general public. This is a philosophical change and will probably not be well accepted unless the need for attainable housing is shown and accepted by the community.

St. George City Council Minutes
November 15, 2005
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Council Member Allen commented that the point of changing the master plan would be to keep open space and provide attainable housing.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson explained that Washington City uses a density bonus program for the fields area, with a one acre base density, and bonuses allowed for trails, parks, open space, etc. He stated he did not think affordable housing was a part of this program.

Council Member Orton commented that Washington City is generous with its options, and a developer can quickly get up to 3.5 units per acre with setbacks, etc.

Council Member Allen commented that she spoke with several members of the Washington City Council, and they are very interested in coming up with something for attainable housing on a county-wide basis.

Council Member Larry Gardner commented that all the concepts discussed were good, but inquired how the mechanics of the program would work.

Planning Commissioner Vince Clayton suggested that a committee be established to establish rules for qualification, with those qualified purchasing the home at a specific percentage of its retail price of the home. He stated it was his opinion that inclusionary zoning lays the burden on those who buy homes in that community.

Washington County Economic Development Director Scott Hirschi recognized Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner, and explained that Mr. Gardner was also chair of the Dixie Area Workforce Housing Affordability Committee. He stated that while he was not prepared to suggest what to do in the Little Valley area, there is a serious problem as far as being able to provide housing for the area workforce, including school teachers, firemen, policemen, nurses and others who make similar wages. A beginning school teacher makes $26,000 a year and cannot afford housing in Washington County. As a result, the School District has had a number of people who originally accepted jobs as teachers later decline because they could not find affordable housing. One of the hallmarks of the Dixie area is that there are no ?bad? areas in which to live, and the community as a whole has done a fabulous job of making sure there is a good mix of housing product throughout the county. The challenge is to continue this in the future. Workforce housing should be incorporated, whether it is in Little Valley or wherever to be a benefit to the community overall. When school teachers and nurses cannot find housing, this is a community problem. He cited Coral Canyon as a good example of an affordable housing community with CC&Rs. He stated he hoped whatever the City Council did in Little Valley that it includes small lots for affordable housing controlled in such a manner that in 20 years everyone can say that it is still a great neighborhood.

City Manager Gary Esplin inquired who would administer the CC&Rs after the developer was gone.

Mr. Hirschi replied that the government would have to be looked to for back-up.

Council Member Whatcott commented that the zoning ordinances would have to be changed first so design requirements can be developed. Additionally, some sort of clustering mechanism must be used to eliminate weedy lots.

Council Member Gardner commented that over the next five years 1000 new teachers would be needed, and right now there are 35 teachers at the College who need housing.

Carol Sapp commented that she is a member of an advisory panel formed by the Washington County School District working with recruitment of new teachers and retaining current teachers. This year will be the first in history where there will not be enough teachers if something is not done to provide them housing. The advisory panel began developing a strategy to quickly address the problem and met with an area developer and others to fast track a plan. The minimum standard expected is housing that can be achieved by a two income family. However, this may mean changing attitudes about a lot of things, without having to give up quality of life issues, and thinking outside the box. She stated she tried to find homes for sale under $200,000 in Washington County and found ten on the MLS. With $17,000 down, the monthly payment would be $1650, more than a beginning teacher?s monthly take-home salary.

St. George City Council Minutes
November 15, 2005
Page Three

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that the market was not going to address the issue of affordable housing as long as people are willing to pay $150,000 for a building lot. He suggested the formation of a non-profit organization to facilitate construction of affordable housing where the profits are plowed back into the organization. He suggested that a 50-60 acre parcel be set aside and proposals with design guidelines accepted, and let the project begin, as long as there is a plan for long term upkeep of the project.

Council Member Orton suggested the project could begin on a smaller parcel, such as five acres.

Vince Clayton commented that two factors affect the price of homes, land and sticks and bricks. If the product is designed correctly, a home could probably be built for $95 a square foot. Ence Construction is willing to co-partner with the City and County for a very small margin above its overhead to develop an attainable housing project. However, it does not have the land for the project.

Planning Commissioner Kim Campbell commented that SITLA land sales are supposedly for the benefit of the State?s schools and children, and without teachers, there can be no schools for the children. He agreed that in order for an attainable housing project to work, the density had to be increased.

Planning Commissioner Ron Bracken commented that the density issue was important, and the City has been holding densities down thereby creating a shortage of lots for development.

Council Member Allen commented that the discussion on attainable housing seemed premature because the Dixie Workforce Housing Council is working on all these issues and will be presenting its recommendations in January. The City Council should now be focusing its attention on the Little Valley area.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that the City should determine what the incentive will be to provide attainable housing, rather than letting the developer decide what he/she is willing to give. He commented that the City has a 23 acre parcel next to the new elementary school in Little Valley, however, there would be an outcry from the Little Valley community if the City were to rezone the parcel to 5,000 sq. ft. lots.

Planning Commissioner Myrna Stout replied that the 23 acre parcel could be masterplanned to be a wonderful example to other developers. The Planning Commission and City Council would be able to rezone the area in clear conscience because it would be able to provide a clear picture of what the project would look like and provide open space, with the promise that the other 500 acres in the area would be held to larger lots for animals as promised. There must be something in writing in the general plan that will help the landowners in Little Valley feel comfortable that another 23 acre parcel will not be rezoned to higher density, as it is this ?creeping effect? that they are most worried about.

Mayor McArthur suggested that a joint meeting with the School District, Washington County, and other communities be held for public input.

Planning Commissioner Ross Taylor advised that attainable housing could be distributed throughout the RCC zoned area now.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that there will have to be an immediate change of attitude and a community consensus built that apartment dwellers are not bad people, and those who can only afford to buy a 1,500 sq. ft. house are not bad.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson commented that the City?s down payment assistance program was well utilized, but home values are so high right now, that those who have to meet the HUD guidelines cannot qualify to purchase the homes.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that in order to allow a density bonus program, the master plan would first have to be changed.

It was the consensus of the City Council that the density in the Little Valley area would remain as is until a plan is presented for consideration.

St. George City Council Minutes
November 15, 2005
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The meeting then adjourned.

Gay Cragun, City Recorder