City Council Minutes

Thursday, August 23,2007

AUGUST 23, 2007, 4:00 P.M.

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

Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order at 4:06 p.m. and welcomed all present. The pledge of allegiance was led by Tom McArthur, and Mayor McArthur offered the invocation. Mayor McArthur invited a Scout in the audience to introduce himself.

Lynne Clark distributed a handout and reviewed it. See Exhibit ?A? attached. She advised that she has over 17,000 photographs in her collection and has invested a huge amount of money and time. She needs help to continue the collection. She has been a professional photographer since 1968. To publish a 150 year photographic collection of St. George would cost between $50,000 and $70,000, and if she began now, it should be ready for publication in time for distribution in the fall of 2010.

Council Member Orton commented that it is critical that this historic collection is preserved, and between the City, County, and College, someone has to do it.

Ms. Clark commented that the College?s photographic collection has never been indexed or documented and she has concerns that her collection would just gather dust as well if in the care of the College.

Council Member Orton advised that he has used SUU?s archives and it is very impressive.

Ms. Clark replied that SUU uses the State server, and if the City decided to purchase the collection, she imagined the City could use the same server.

Mayor McArthur advised that the City has the capacity to do what Ms. Clark wants to do, and it would be nice to have the collection all in one place. He stated that funds could be made available to have the book by September 2010.

Ms. Clark advised that if the City purchased the collection and hired her as the history museum director, the cost of the book would be included in that cost.

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August 23, 2007
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Dan Lofgren, representing Cowboy Partners, explained that his firm creates affordable housing. The previously proposed workforce housing development on Main Street did not come together. There has been a shift in the way the tax credit program comes together that makes it possible to do affordable housing. They found only one parcel in the City suitable for the project, in part because it is against the freeway and would act as a buffer from the freeway into the general neighborhood. It is located on a high volume street and could very well be a mass transit street. The triangular piece of property is located on the corner of 400 East and 900 South below the Grand View Mobile Home Park on 2.4 acres. The proposed project is a different building configuration than before. The concept is a three story complex with a more suburban look and feel. There are 88 units, and it is high density. Notwithstanding the slow-down, it is a seller?s market for development parcels. The proposed density is driven by what the company has to spend to acquire the parcel. He showed the site plan. The entrance to the community would be east of 400 East off of 900 South. The dominant units are one bedroom apartments with affordable rents. The studio apartments will rent for as low as $270 a month, which an hourly wage earner can afford. There are 18 two bedroom units done with the intent to provide a broader variety of housing types. The project is more diverse in terms of types of household configurations allowed. The two bedroom units will rent for as low as $506 per month.

Council Member Gardner arrived.

Mr. Lofgren stated the affordability will be perpetual for 99 years with a land use restriction. The company?s intent is to own the project for an indefinite period of time and would not be built to sell. It is a tax credit community. There are very high odds that 15 years and 30 years from now his company would still be managing the property. They do not tolerate any nonsense and the property is tightly controlled. They are strict about what happens on the property in order to preserve the opportunity for quality housing for everyone.

Council Member Bunker inquired how occupancy would be limited.

Mr. Lofgren replied that occupancy is an enforceable provision. There is ample parking on site with 140 stalls proposed. The project consists of 16 studios, 18 smaller one bedrooms, 36 larger one bedrooms, and 18 two bedroom units. The key is setting a policy and being consistent. The two bedroom units would be limited to occupancy of four persons. If for example a couple had a baby which increased their family to five, they would not be ?kicked out?, but their lease would not be renewed. This community does not lend itself to a lot of families and is primarily for the young and hourly wage earner. If management is consistent in application of the policies, the community polices itself. Semi-annual inspections of each unit are also done. Management monitors the vehicles and who has one and who doesn?t. It is an ongoing process and part of an all day every day management plan.

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August 23, 2007
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Council Member Allen advised that she has received many phone calls from people looking for apartments to rent. There is a long waiting list for affordable housing or housing through the housing authority.

Mr. Lofgren advised that they do not get involved with government agencies or housing authorities. He acknowledged that the density may be an issue, but he felt that the location next to the freeway would mitigate this in favor of higher density, and it requires a new way of thinking. The time line for this project is not in such a crunch as the last proposed project. He stated if he could sense a consensus to proceed, he would try and put the project together while giving the City time to accommodate it within the zoning code.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman advised that the City is going to expand its electrical substation in this area and will need more property.

Mr. Lofgren advise that he would work with the City.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson commented that the property is currently zoned for manufactured homes, 6000 sq. ft. lots. The City?s current code says that in a PD residential zone, the building can only cover 50% of the site area. Required landscaping is 30% and the building cannot exceed 35' in height unless a taller building is approved. The Planning Commission can approve parking down to 1.5 spaces per unit. Density caps out at 22 units per acre. If the Council wants to proceed with this project, code amendments will be needed to give the Council discretion to approve increased density based on certain factors. He distributed a handout with possible code amendments, attached hereto as Exhibit?B?.

Mr. Lofgren advised that there would also be the opportunity to add some green space or a pocket park if the City Council felt adjacent property was no longer needed for a roadway.

Mayor McArthur advised that the City?s long term plan includes continuation of 400 East Street.

Mr. Lofgren advised that his company has the parcel under contract, and he hoped that the property could be zoned by the end of the year with closing on the parcel so they could start moving forward. If additional resources can be found, perhaps the density could be reduced a little bit, such as if the City had RDA funds it wanted to put into this type of housing. He advised he was planning on making application for the tax credits in the fall of 2008.

Michael Sorenson inquired if college students would take up the space in the project, rather than workers.

Mr. Lofgren replied that the tax credit program does not allow them to rent to full-time matriculated students.

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August 23, 2007
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Representative Steve Urquhart gave a brief update on the recent legislative session dealing with the school district split in Salt Lake County and the equalization formula which did not pass.

Bill Schuler introduced representatives of Baja Broadband, including Steve Urquhart, legal counsel. Mr. Schuler explained that his company took over Charter, changed the named to Orange Broadband, and then changed it to Baja Broadband. He reviewed the advance services launch schedule and the St. George fiber map. He advised that Baja Broadband has been selected by the Washington County School District as the ethernet provider. He explained that Baja provides high definition TV, DVR service, and will provide video on demand in 2008. He reviewed upgrades to the video system and data services system and outside plant improvements. He reviewed head end improvements and their three year investment and improvement plan. He stated they would like to do a wireless overlay with a separate frequency for police and fire. He reviewed customer service problems and improvements to the billing system. He explained the background of the rate increase and advised they were forced to raise their rates to cover programming costs. Outstanding issues are the new office location and hub site.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman advised that customer service complaints have dropped off dramatically.

Mr. Schuler advised that programmers do not sell ala carte, and there is no leverage with programmers.

Brent Bluth with SITLA introduced himself.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson introduced one member of the Sign Review Board. He distributed a handout, Exhibit ?C? attached hereto and reviewed it. He explained that a 50' pole sign is allowed if located within 1500' of a freeway exit and if located on a designated major commercial street. If the location is outside the 1500' bubble but located on a major commercial street, a 30' tall sign is allowed. If the business is not located on a major commercial street, only monument signs are allowed. The Sign Review Board recommended that four additional streets be designated as major commercial streets. Desert Palms has requested a 50' tall pole sign, but it is not located on a designated major commercial street.

Ray Draper stated that Desert Palms? request should be approved as the location is close enough to the freeway to be seen and it would not be placed up on the hill or at the top of the road. The sign will only be 50-55' off from the freeway elevation.

Council Member Bunker inquired if Desert Palms was really trying to draw people off the freeway, as she felt its patrons were primarily locals.

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August 23, 2007
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John Sorenson, one of the owners of Desert Palms, presented a slide presentation. He commented that Desert Palms has a lot of competition, and most new residents do not know where it is located. Desert Palms has been losing money for the past three years and he bought it with the hope that an aggressive marketing campaign and visibility through signage would turn it around. The location is behind and to the side of the Crystal Inn and Indy Auto, and any sign less than 41-42' cannot even be seen from Bluff and Hilton, so right now they are invisible. The building is not the typical health club design and they do not stand out like Gold?s or Summit. The building is 35' tall and the new sign will be located on the right side of the building more than 200' feet down from Blackridge Drive. He distributed pictures of what the sign would look like from the Bluff and Hilton intersection. The business employs 50 employees and pays $30,000 in property taxes a year and almost $100,000 a year in sales tax. In order to compete and be a part of the market, the sign is critical and is part of their marketing campaign. If he had known the sign was not an option, he would not have bought the business. There are two other businesses on the street, and they are the majority on the north side of the street. The business has 2,800 members in St. George and because of a SBA loan, they cannot reduce the number of staff. Their current sign is located on the top of their building and can be seen from the front only.

Council Member Orton commented that the street they are located on is not a major commercial street.

A gentleman, representing Rainbow Signs, advised that the applicant went to the Sign Review Board simply for a variance for this sign, and the Sign Review Board turned the issue into this and recommended other streets be considered.

Council Member Gardner commented the concept was to allow 50' signs within 1500' of the freeway, and he hated to get into a debate as to which business would qualify for the signs, particularly in the heart of a commercial area where everyone should have the opportunity. There is merit to the request and a 50' tall sign would be dwarfed by its setting.

An unidentified man commented that designating the street as a major commercial street does not mean every business will put in a 50' tall sign.

Mayor McArthur advised the matter would be scheduled on the next City Council agenda.

Council Member Bunker advised she would like to see a lift mark the sign height so that it could be seen from various angles.

The Rainbow Sign representative advised he would have the lift in place on September 6 at 3:00 p.m.

Council Member Whatcott commented he felt the Sign Review Board had perhaps stepped too far, as the applicant had only asked for a variance. He stated that while

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August 23, 2007
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it is not the City?s fault or responsibility that Desert Palms have proper advertising nor did the City have to bend over backwards to satisfy them, the City Council should ask if a 50' pole sign would adversely affect the area, and it probably would not. From that standpoint, he did not see the request as a big issue, but he is concerned with extending the area allowed for 50' tall signs down and around by the Fiesta Fun Center. He stated he worried that as people drive down the freeway, all they would see are signs, which is clutter.

An unidentified man advised that when he looked into purchasing the Desert Palms, he read the ordinance which says that a commercial street is a street with more than 70% commercial businesses.

Council Member Bunker distributed a handout for a Creative Communities grant through the Utah Arts Council.

Council Member Bunker reported that the Dixie Arts Alliance dissolved last week so there will be no Art in the Park this year. She advised it was suggested to the Arts Council that they take on renovation of the third floor of the Art building as well as Art in the Park as a funding mechanism, and continue with the grant from Eccles for the third floor renovation.

Council Member Bunker advised that members of Vibrant St. George would like to make a presentation to the mayor and Council. Mayor McArthur advised that they could be guests on the Mayor?s Forum, and to contact Marc Mortensen to schedule this.

Council Member Allen inquired if a decision had been made as to where the Flying Club could locate. They would like to know if they can use the area the City will have as a sod farm and land their planes there.

Mayor McArthur advised that the radio controlled jets could not land on the grass.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman advised that the planes would not be allowed to fly over inhabited structures.

Council Member Allen requested that a circle be drawn on a map where the planes would be allowed to fly. The club does not want to spend money on asphalt if there is the possibility that some day they will be asked to leave.

City Attorney Shawn Guzman advised that the agreement can be terminated at will. He suggested that the club members meet with Water Services Director Barry Barnum and Energy Services Director Phil Solomon to determine a suitable site. The City?s needs, however, must come first.

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August 23, 2007
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Council Member Whatcott advised that there has been discussion about solar power and how it lends itself to run the reuse pumps and the sewer system. The City will need property for this use also.

Council Member Allen advised that at the last DAWHAC meeting it was advised they would like to make a presentation at a televised City Council meeting on affordable housing and what is available to citizens.

Mayor McArthur advised they could also be guests on the Mayor?s Forum.

Council Member Allen reported on a recent MPO meeting. The MPO would like a resolution from the County to establish an informal group to consider a tax on auto registration up to $10.00 for corridor preservation. This would raise $1.3 million a year.

Council Member Orton reported on a recent WCIA Board meeting he and the Mayor attended, and suggested that a meeting be scheduled with the County to discuss the Dixie Center?s future.

MOTION: A motion was made by Council Member Gardner to adjourn to an executive session to discuss litigation.
SECOND: The motion was seconded by Council Member Allen.
VOTE: Mayor McArthur called for a roll call vote, as follows:

Council Member Gardner - aye
Council Member Allen - aye
Council Member Bunker - aye
Council Member Whatcott - aye
Council Member Orton - aye

The vote was unanimous and the motion carried.

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

Gay Cragun, City Recorder