City Council Minutes

Tuesday, May 15,2007

MAY 15, 2007, 4:00 P.M.

Mayor Pro Tem Rod Orton
Council Member Suzanne Allen
Council Member Bob Whatcott
Council Member Gail Bunker
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 Burks
Planning Commission Member Kim Campbell
Planning Commission Member Julie Hullinger
Planning Commission Member Ron Bracken
Planning Commission Member Mike Nobis

Mayor Daniel McArthur

Mayor Pro Tem Orton called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. The pledge of allegiance was led by Bob Nicholson and the invocation was offered by Gail Bunker.

City Manager Gary Esplin explained that there are requests for development in the Little Valley area and a discussion is needed concerning concepts, planning principles, and what the City wants to see in this area and what it will take to get a project going. Joe Alfandre is an expert in this field and would like to talk conceptually about communities and neighborhoods.

Joe Alfandre explained that he developed a project in Maryland known nationally as The Kentlands, a mixed use project, which many communities want to emulate.

Council Member Gardner arrived.

Mr. Alfandre explained that the concept was to develop a friendly, walkable neighborhood with a diverse mix of housing. He stated the reason he was here is to help facilitate great neighborhoods, not replicate The Kentlands. The project being presented today is the first opportunity St. George has to see this kind of neighborhood built. He stated he felt the project was heading in the right direction and he was honored to be able to work on it. There are problems with it, however, and there are risks. The developer wants to comply with City codes and provide a model, but he is unsure how to do this. Staff is responding correctly, but they have to look out for the best interests of the City. Private consultants are possibly more concerned with the interests of the developer. He then showed slides of The Kentlands project. He stated that Quality Development is trying to create a great neighborhood project that will look like it belongs in St. George.

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May 15, 2007
Page Two

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that a common goal is to create a neighborhood. There has to be a core which maintains the characteristics of a traditional neighborhood. There can be five separate projects in the master planned area as long as they fit into the overall theme or standard.

Planning Commission Chair Gil Almquist suggested that in order for a small neighborhood area to be productive, it must be internally functional and offer something to keep the people in the neighborhood.

Council Member Allen commented that the vehicle is the focus of everything and traffic is the City?s biggest problem. Creating neighborhoods is one way to help with traffic problems.

Ed Burgess, Quality Development, advised that he began this process in August, 2004. If the project is not financially feasible it will not do anyone any good. The project consists of over 400 acres and builders are not willing to be the guinea pig on such a large project with potentially 2200 homes. He stated he did not feel Little Valley had a need for any more horse property. He stated that because of price points that had to be met, he was not sure this project was the place for attainable housing and a TND as financially they do not go hand in hand. He stated he felt he could build a great neighborhood with all the components being talked about, but he needed help from the City Council to do so. He stated he was present to ask for understanding and reasoning to figure out a way to get together with staff on the project. He stated he wanted a commitment from the City Council that staff would not hold them up.

Joe Alfandre commented that he was hearing the same things that were problems 20 years ago. Mr. Burgess is the landowner and from his perspective it is best to have a great something rather than a perfect nothing. He advised that he was interested in working with Mr. Burgess to prove up on some areas and things he knows are on the City Council?s mind. One of the problems today is that the consumer is given only one alternative, and Mr. Burgess is willing to offer several. He advised that if he is involved with the project he will be responsible for it and is willing to take the risk to do it.

Council Member Bunker commented that one of the problems the Planning Commission had with the proposal when it was brought forth was that they had cold feet when it came to approving something like this, and there is confusion as to what is wanted. She inquired if the core was first needed.

Mr. Alfandre replied that he was talking about building neighborhoods, and in order to do this, the core is not needed first. He advised the core consists of an identifiable area, not necessarily commercial. Neighborhood centers are where people live and where the builders would be building.

City Manger Gary Esplin explained that each neighborhood would have its own identifiable factors or features, but all the neighborhoods would be tied together with a central theme.

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May 15, 2007
Page Three

Dave Ager, Townscape Design LLC, commented that each neighborhood can be drawn and documented. He stated a vision of a great neighborhood was first needed, and then it can be drawn under the theme of the overall master plan.

Mr. Burgess replied that what has been most beneficial to him from this meeting is the concept that there can be different neighborhoods as long as there is a central theme. In Little Valley Farms, each neighborhood will stand on its own within the overall subdivision. However, there is no mechanism to get him there, as the TND does not fit his concept as currently drafted. He inquired if there would be flexibility. He stated he would hate to have to go through a one to two year process to have his master plan approved, and then find out it was not market driven and have to change it every month. He stated that a way needed to be figured out to have the master plan approved with flexibility to meet market demands.

Council Member Allen suggested the City drop the zoning requirements and look at the concept instead.

Mr. Alfandre advised that this was done for The Kentlands.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman advised that the City would need to know the framework of what needed to be accomplished and craft an ordinance in a way that would do that. He stated it was important that a loophole in the ordinance not be created that would allow someone to do something totally different.

Mr. Alfandre commented that it would help to have the project designated as a pilot project.

Community Development Bob Nicholson commented that problems with the design manual or code would have to be identified.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman commented that a minimum acreage could be specified that would exclude others from doing something the City did not want.

Deputy City Attorney Paula Houston advised that South Jordan did this for the Daybreak project. They approved a master plan but left flexibility based on standards which could be approved at staff level.

Dave Ager said that in the Urbana, Maryland project, the first decision was to decide what the town center would look like, then the zone was written, then framework established with flexibility so the project could move forward on a fast track.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented he felt there were enough guidelines already in place that the project could be done now. The issue boils down to interpretation, and that is why this meeting was called - so everyone would be on the same page with regard to interpretation. Mr. Alfandre says the core of a neighborhood does not have to contain commercial. Mr. Esplin suggested that Mr. Burgess? project could move forward as long as the City Council approved each element of the different neighborhoods.

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May 15, 2007
Page Four

Mayor Pro Tem Orton commented that the City did not want a 600 acre TND without any commercial.

Mr. Esplin replied that the project would have to contain a mix of different uses, and an overall master plan would have to be in place with the individual neighborhoods fitting together, and someone would have to have control over the standards of the entire area, which would be the master developer.

Council Member Allen commented she did not want the developer to have to come back time after time to the City because the City?s ordinances do not provide flexibility, such as with setbacks.

Mr. Alfandre advised that the plan should drive the setbacks, and it would be better
to let the plan come in and then see how it rubs with the City?s ordinances.

City Manager Gary Esplin advised that the City wants diversity in neighborhoods, and it will be the plan itself that governs the project.

Ed Burgess commented that staff needed direction from the City Council to be able to approve things out of the ordinary.

City Manager Gary Esplin clarified that the City?s ordinances will apply to established subdivisions. He advised there would have to be a TND overlay in any area where this new concept would be used. There will also have to be minimum standards.

Mayor Pro Tem Orton commented that a master plan would be needed.

Planning Commission Chair Gil Almquist advised that the Planning Commission felt pressure to hit a home run the first time as they wanted to do it right the first time and not have the TND concept die. He suggested formation of a committee that would have the authority to offer flexibility and streamline the system so that projects such as this could be approved all within one room.

Council Member Gardner replied that there is already this capability within the Development Services Department.

Planning Commissioner Kim Campbell commented that in order to keep people within their neighborhoods there has to be some level of commercial, and the question is just how much commercial is needed to do this.

Ed Burgess commented that there were three things driving the project - 3000 East, the equestrian trail, and Little Valley Road. To the south there is also Commerce Drive. There are limiting factors in the area.

Curt Gordon commented that the master plan concept for the 500 acres includes SITLA land and the Little Valley Farms. The entire project is not TND, but it has a TND core. The idea is to create distinct neighborhoods around the core under a master plan scenario. Architecture will be coordinated and will tie all the neighborhoods together. There is a 40-50 acre core with a park, recreation center, commercial, schools and a mix of housing.

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May 15, 2007
Page Five

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson commented that because of the intersection of two arterial streets, parallel parking should be allowed as it serves to
calm traffic. Additional right-of-way should be included to accommodate this parallel parking.

Ed Burgess commented that each neighborhood would have its own park or church. Within the master planned project there are three church sites, a place for a fire station and library.

City Manager Gary Esplin stated that the plan presented is a good start but does not have the detail needed.

David Ager commented that sometimes the city?s role is to coordinate the city?s plan with the property owner?s plan.

Joe Alfandre commented that incentives have to be synced with the project. Density will not solve everything and flexibility is needed. He stated the market needed to work to dictate the project within the City?s overall master plan. The plan can be perfected, but the City needs to let the developer get started.

Ed Burgess advised that he was willing to do the core. The school is designed to be on SITLA ground, and there is an offer on the table from the LDS Church for a church site. He advised he was willing to work with the City. Commercial will require house tops, but he stated he would plan it.

Curt Gordon advised that the streets will be the first thing built.

Mr. Burgess advised that he will build 3000 East right now.

City Manager Gary Esplin inquired if the City should move forward and look at the individual neighborhoods with the understanding that they would be reviewed separately as part of the overall master plan.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson suggested that the first process should be the vision for the property and then the neighborhoods.

Curt Gordon inquired if the concept presented was acceptable.

Mr. Nicholson replied that a few more details would be needed.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that the City cannot continue to wait. He suggested the plan be tried, using flexibility, as the City already has enough guidelines in place.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson commented that flexibility was already in place, but specifics needed to be talked about.

Curt Gordon commented that the TND ordinance will not work for every aspect of the proposed project. The developer will look at the market and put those things into the project.

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May 15, 2007
Page Six

Council Member Allen inquired if enough latitude would be extended to the developer so he could get going on this first project. She stated she did not want the developer to have to keep coming back to the City Council and Planning Commission for approvals.

Council Member Gardner commented that the City has created some of its own challenges. He stated he was hearing that the tools needed for the development are in place. The concept will be interpreted more like a PD but there needs to be flexibility on setbacks and other issues such as density, or flexibility on lot sizes or access. If the applicant comes in with an approvable plan for a neighborhood, the Planning Commission will look at it, along with the recommendation of consultants, and can recommend it for approval. If the project takes care of connectivity, trails, major roads, parks, etc., then the Planning Commission should recommend it for approval, rather than saying it does not meet the City?s ordinances.

Ed Burgess commented that at the end of the day when it gets to having the final plat stamped for approval, everything would be taken care of. This procedure may be taking something away from staff, but in this case it will save months and the product will be the same or better.

Council Member Gardner commented that he agreed with Mr. Alfandre when he said that it was better to have a great something than a perfect nothing, and sometimes staff is put in the position of having to deciding issues with their hands tied. It is impossible to gain perfection in any plan. He stated Mr. Burgess needed to get going with his project and be allowed flexibility.

Jay Bollwinkel commented that he has been working on this same concept with other cities, and this concept is hard to figure out. It is a matter of trust.

Mayor Pro Tem Orton commented that he wanted positive direction from staff when the project comes in for approval.

City Manager Gary Esplin commented that Mr. Alfandre would be here until Thursday and he would meet with him to refine what has been discussed.

MOTION: A motion to adjourn was made by Council Member Gardner.
SECOND: The motion was seconded by Council Member Whatcott.
VOTE: Mayor Pro Tem Orton called for a vote, and all voted aye. The motion carried.

Gay Cragun, City Recorder