City Council Minutes

Thursday, March 30,2006

MARCH 30, 2006, 5:00 P.M.

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

Planning Commission Chair Gil Almquist
Planning Commission Member Chapin Burkes
Planning Commission Member Ross Taylor
Planning Commission Member Ron Bracken

Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and welcomed all present. The pledge of allegiance was led by Marc Mortensen and the invocation was offered by Larry Gardner.

Mayor McArthur explained that the City Council has charged the Planning Department to look at zoning in the Little Valley area to accommodate workforce housing.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson explained that the City?s policy is to update its master plan every five years. The general plan is a guideline for growth and sets forth policies to guide development. A lot of development pressure is headed for the Little Valley area. The population for Washington County in 2020 is projected to be 250,000, with the City of St. George comprising half of that population. He then presented a power point presentation on permitted dwelling units in the County, building permits issued in the City, recent projects in the Little Valley area, zoning in Little Valley, and proposed projects that will affect Little Valley. He explained that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss development options for the Little Valley area.

Jean Arbuckle, Washington City Council Member and Chair of the Dixie Area Workforce Housing Affordability Committee, presented a power point presentation and explained that an entry level home in the St. George area sells for $251,850 with a mortgage payment of $1,861 a month. She explained that future development must allow for housing that people can afford to live in, and one group alone cannot be expected to take the brunt of this responsibility.

Jeff Winston of Winston Associates explained that he has served as a consultant to the City and has worked on its comprehensive plan for several years. Five years ago affordable housing was not an issue but is now a significant issue. The Little Valley area is the first area the City Council has charged the Planning Department to look at to see how it can contribute to solving the community-wide problem. Other areas being looked at are the South Block area, the southwest quadrant, and the northern area. The City recognizes that agricultural uses and the ability to keep large animals are important to the residents of Little Valley, and the challenge is to figure out how much change can occur while protecting these land uses. Some large lots are not being used for horses or agriculture uses and many families want to develop with something other than a large lot development.

Joe Alfandre explained that he is a homebuilder from the Washington D.C. area and is the developer of the Kentlands project. He is acting as a consultant to the City. He then presented pictures of the Kentlands.

Mayor McArthur commented that the City Council would like to hear what is working in the Little Valley area, and what is not.

Jeff Winston commented that the Kentlands has lots of open and green space, a walkable neighborhood, and is an example of what can be achieved in the Little Valley area.

Paul Gooch commented that what is working in Little Valley is the ability to have horses and 4H animals.

Cindy McGregor commented that as a third grade school teacher, she is aware of the lack of affordable housing. However, children need a place where they can run wild and catch lizards and jump on a horse or motorcycle and go for a ride. What is working in the Little Valley area is the children are able to run and play in the neighborhood. What will not work in Little Valley is having someone move in who does not understand horses and might get hurt on her property. She asked the City Council to remember that the City needs at least one rural area.

Mr. Winston commented that putting different land uses adjacent to each other is a challenge, and a transition area is needed.

Mike McGregor commented that what works in Little Valley is its good people and way of life. The City Council has seen fit to maintain the lifestyle in Little Valley through the years and has promised that St. George would have a place for horses and people to live. Other horse areas in St. George have been pushed out and Little Valley is the last horse area left. If horse owners are pushed out from Little Valley they will have to leave the City. He stated he would prefer to see an equestrian center on the property across the street rather than a park. He recommended that homes be clustered on smaller lots, allowing one horse, and large common areas provided for an arena, corrals and a place to park trailers. What will not work in Little Valley is encircling and enclosing horse property with higher density developments.

Paul Iverson explained that he has watched St. George grow from a little town with a single stop light to its current size. He stated he moved to Little Valley because of the master plan and because he wanted to give his children what he had. What is working for Little Valley is the people. The current plan the City has for the area is working nicely. What is not working is the residents input to the City. Neighbors in the area think they will be railroaded into what the City wants. He asked the City Council to please represent the citizens who voted for them. He stated that what does not work is trying to change the free enterprise system, and no matter how small the lots, the price of the lots will not be $47,000. There are currently 350 lots for sale now in St. George, and the cost to build a home is $110 a sq. ft. By dropping lot prices, more money will be put into developer?s pockets. He stated the question is what can the community in Little Valley do to keep what it currently has.

Dave Heineken, a resident of Red Butte Estates, state he moved to St. George two years ago because of the hometown feel. He stated he did not want to see St. George move in the direction taken by Henderson, Nevada or Orange, California.
With regard to a shortage of work force, he and his wife are both registered nurses but have to travel to Las Vegas to work in order to make part-time what they could make at the St. George hospital full-time. He suggested that wages be increased so that people can afford to buy homes.

Susan Frazier, a resident of The Knolls, advised that she moved to St. George eight months ago from out of state because of the open space in the area. While she is not anti-growth, there is uncontrolled growth and the Washington Fields are being developed in a hodge-podge manner by individual builders. The hillsides in Little Valley are being shredded, and open fields have turned into soccer fields for City profit. Land in Little Valley is fast disappearing. She inquired where the bike trails, neighborhood parks, play areas, and open spaces were, and what the City was giving back to its residents. She stated there were countless areas where affordable housing could be built through sustained controlled growth. The Little Valley area has been designated as an open space area and changing the plan will open up a can of worms. The City Council is willing to modify the plan at will to sacrifice the majority.

David Suttner commented that residents have not done their part to show the City Council what they really want. He commented that Little Valley residents cannot fight the City Council and win, and he repeated four times that big money wins.

Denice Hughes commented that what does not work in Little Valley is building cul-de-sacs all around animal property. He stated he has fought to keep his area agricultural but he now has neighbors who do not want agriculture. He stated the area should be kept agricultural.

An unidentified man commented that he was not sure the presentation had anything to do with what Little Valley wants. He stated that there used to be horse trails in Bloomington and many residents used to have horses, and eventually horses and the animal lifestyle in Little Valley will disappear. A transition area will not work.

Chris Tolovan, a resident of The Knolls, commented that if clustered housing is built, there must be public transportation to go along with it. Another daily issue in Little Valley is the dirt and explosions and future air pollution problems.

An unidentified man commented that he has spoken with the Mayor and three Council Members in the last six years about the daily haze of silica sand coming from

the sand pits, and nothing has been done. The State has performed 30-40 air quality tests and say that everything is in compliance.

Sydney Davis, a resident on 2450 South, advised that she and her neighbors were part of a SID to pave the road on 2450 South and install sewer. She said that talk is cheap in working with the City Council who promised parks and places for children to play and ride horses, but this has never happened, and she is now landlocked. She has horses and 4H animals in her yard and there is no where for her children to ride their horses. The City Council did not listen to the residents then saying that they could not force developers to donate land for green space when they could make more money selling their land. She advised the residents of Little Valley to stick together because once they have lost their quality of life it cannot be recovered. She stated that City Council members talk big, but there is no action. She suggested that Little Valley incorporate and de-annex from the City so they would not be at the mercy of City planners and people connected with development. She stated that Little Valley?s only hope was to create their own government.

Mayor McArthur commented that the things being said were not correct and that he felt bad the residents of Little Valley did not feel the City Council listened to them. He stated he wanted his children and grandchildren to live in St. George, but they cannot afford to. The City must also look at the property rights of owners who want to develop their property and have a right to do so. The City is doing the best it can to try and raise wages. One of the City Council?s goalsin the Little Valley area is to provide connectivity for horse trails to access open space. The City will not be able to please everyone, but is trying to include the residents in the planning process and wants them to provide ideas that can help make Little Valley a good area. In the near future the City will show Little Valley residents prototypes of developments, and is asking for input into the prototypes.

An unidentified woman commented that if the problem is a lack of workforce housing, nothing will change the supply and demand, as there is less land to develop.

Mayor McArthur commented that the City is trying to look at inclusionary zoning and is encouraging developers to work with residents and City staff to develop something that works for everyone.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson commented that the City is trying to obtain cooperation from property owners for an equestrian trail along the canal in Little Valley to the Ft. Pearce Wash, and along 3000 East to the ridgeline and eventually to the Virgin River floodplain. This is not easy to do and requires cooperation. One prototype that will work is the Bridle Gate Estates subdivision with clustered housing and an arena for those who own horses.

Rod Wyler, a real estate broker involved with development, acknowledged that there are ways of making a development such as Kentlands work. The City can require developers to do certain things and to donate land for parks. Open space is a viable thing that people in Little Valley want, and workforce housing can be accomplished while still letting people enjoy the open space here. An equestrian trail can circle the entire area. Infrastructure must also be planned for, such as roads, shopping centers

and places for people to work and shop, and this infrastructure can be required of developers.

Jeff Winston commented that the goal of the meeting is to take comments and to come back and answer the questions raised. Prototypes will be presented at a future meeting and additional suggestions and comments will be welcomed.

An unidentified man commented that he knew the pressures faced by the City Council with regard to growth. He suggested the airport be moved to the Black Rock exit and the airport property be used for neighborhoods.

Mayor McArthur replied that it would not be possible to move the airport site. He stated that another meeting will be held for Little Valley residents in an effort to accommodate their lifestyle. All decisions made will be based upon good information, but not everyone will be happy with the decisions.

An unidentified woman commented that the City would never allow her to demolish homes in downtown St. George in order to raise pigs, yet this is what the City Council is asking the residents of Little Valley to do, in reverse. She stated she was not opposed to change, but developers bought property in Little Valley knowing the zoning, and it should remain the same.

Council Member Larry Gardner commented that he approached major landowners in Little Valley in the past hoping to find a way to acquire property to preserve open space and agricultural fields, but not enough taxpayer funds could be found to get the job done. The City Council has tried to resist zoning requests in Little Valley and has tried to provide buffers. The City is not coming forth to develop property in Little Valley; it is reacting to requests by the citizens. Some residents of Little Valley are trying to develop their property, and the City Council is trying to deal with these requests within the free enterprise system without condemning property. The City has searched for consultants such as Jeff Winston and Joe Alfandre to respond to the pressures of development. The City is not promoting development; it is being pressed upon the City, and the City must respond in a responsible way.

The meeting then adjourned.

Gay Cragun, City Recorder