City Council Minutes

Thursday, January 29,2009

JANUARY 29, 2009, 4:00 P.M.

Mayor Daniel McArthur
Council Member Jon Pike
Council Member Gil Almquist
Council Member Gloria Shakespeare
Council Member Suzanne Allen
Council Member Gail Bunker
City Manager Gary Esplin
City Attorney Shawn Guzman
City Recorder Gay Cragun

Mayor McArthur called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. The pledge of allegiance was led by Suzanne Allen and the invocation was offered by Gil Almquist

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson reviewed the background and findings with regard to adoption of the Little Valley Sub Area Plan by the City several years ago.

Jeff Winston presented a power point presentation covering existing zoning, horse properties, horse suitability, development pressure, horse enclaves, concepts, Washington City land use plan, equestrian buffers, feathering density, application of the plan, development patterns, objectives and policies.

Council Member Pike commented his main concern is that the 100' buffer zone is not adequate. He inquired what criteria was used to establish the buffer as only 100'.

Mr. Winston replied that RE 12.5 zoning allows horses and could be part of the buffer. There is an equestrian trail system as part of the plan, and if the goal is rural character, the lots should be wide and shallow with more space between the homes.

Council Member Pike replied that the trail system does not solve the problem of closeness between horse properties and non-horse properties.

Mr. Winston advised that in the subdivisions they looked at only 30% of the properties had horses.

Council Member Pike inquired if there were a way to accomplish the same thing if the higher density parcels could be placed on the perimeter further away from horse properties.

Mr. Winston replied that major streets are planned for this area and these corridors will make the property more valuable for other uses and needs beyond just the current conditions and this needs to be looked at.

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Council Member Pike commented that one of the principles of Vision Dixie is preserving open space and agricultural lands and the City Council needs to figure out how to preserve large areas for this purpose.

Mr. Winston replied that several hundred acres are needed to maintain a natural character and this would require assembling large parcels to leave open. He stated the purpose of the trails was to serve as a ribbon of open space.

Council Member Almquist commented that those who live in Little Valley on large lots do not feel they need a plan as to how they will get along with their neighbors, as they have been doing this for years. They would like less external forces telling them what will happen in their own neighborhood. Perhaps the reason some of the properties on the fringe do not have horses is because there in uncertainty what the area will become and they have choices. The residents of Little Valley have said from the very beginning that they would like something they can hold onto; they want lot sizes they can count on, and they don?t want it monkeyed with. Some on the City Council have requested that the issue be revisited.

Council Member Shakespeare inquired why the decision was made to move this kind of development away from irrigated land to unirrigated land.

Mr. Winston replied that in general the more productive agricultural land is irrigated. The City heard over and over that pressure for development should be kept away from irrigated land as long as possible. In general the idea was that the Little Valley area is a good place for development to occur since agriculture is not being removed. Development is being proposed through the entire area and the planning exercise was an attempt not to say what should happen but what is likely to happen.

Mayor McArthur commented that not everyone can be satisfied. The trade-off was the plan for trails.

Council Member Shakespeare read statistics about food production and loss of farmland. She said the goal of cities should be to allow for small scale farming or farmland overlay zones in order for food production to take place as someday cities may be dependent on the food they can grow in their own communities.

Mr. Winston replied that he could not agree more and someday cities will regret the conversion of agricultural land. However, there are still property rights, and farmland is worth much more as development potential.

Council Member Shakespeare commented she did not feel it was the responsibility of government to protect individual investments.

Mr. Winston inquired if it was government?s responsibility to protect land so it could continue to be farmed. He advised that cities who have done this successfully have created a growth boundary. It is not popular, however, and what it comes down to is protecting the health, safety and welfare of a community. It takes some difficult planning and negotiating. There is a private and community right and a balance between the two has to be found. St. George is in the middle of a desert and water is

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precious. There are ways to encourage clustering to preserve open land and if that
land can be irrigated, that land as open space could become productive for food and a sustainable community.

Mayor McArthur commented that pockets of density would have to be created.

Mr. Winston advised that horse owners are committed and it is not something that is done lightly. He advised that within subdivisions in Little Valley there are many parcels without any equestrian uses. Vacant land has always been perceived as a transitional use and will continue to be so until someone gets serious about agriculture protection. The Little Valley sub plan does contain a plan for inter-connectivity in the entire area.

Council Member Almquist commented that an agricultural Little Valley could be a nice front door to the City.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson inquired about the process for developers who were turned down and want to resubmit their request to the City. He inquired of the City Council if they first wanted to tweak the plan. He advised that property owners want to know if they can rely on the current Little Valley plan.

Mayor McArthur advised that more discussion was needed before any changes are considered.

Council Member Pike commented he felt public input was again needed.

Council Member Allen commented that while it is hard to tell someone what to do with their property, zoning is the job of government, and property owners have the right to a plan they can rely on. Water is getting very expensive and it is expensive to grow food on a large acreage basis, and there is not a lot of green in this area in any event.

City Manager Gary Esplin explained the intent was never to exclude anyone but to create neighborhoods. He stated it was not fair that one segment of the community should bear higher density as there are thousands of acres in Little Valley and it must be looked at over an extended period of time. He stated the reason only certain areas in Little Valley are irrigated is because of the poor soil condition. The main goal in creating neighborhoods is to have a variety of housing.

Council Member Bunker explained there were reasons why open spaces and agricultural areas were left intact in the Little Valley plan and specific reasons why the trails were recommended. The buffer zone and feathering may need to be addressed. She suggested a joint meeting with the Planning Commission to see if a consensus can be reached.

City Council Member Gil Almquist commented that the Little Valley plan is not being thrown out, just tweaked.

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Mr. Nicholson requested that Planning Commission members give him feedback at their next meeting as to what they like and don?t like about the current Little Valley plan. There are 21 policies in addition to the land use plan.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson distributed the proposed amendment to the zoning regulations and reviewed it. He recommended adoption of the TND street standard as an option in the PD Residential zone. He explained that the recommended street standard is currently not an option for developers of PDs.

Council Member Shakespeare expressed concern with the narrowness of the street width and the resultant parking problems.

Council Member Allen commented that narrow street are traffic calming.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson commented that the recommended width is intended to be used where daily traffic does not exceed 500 trips a day.

Council Member Almquist suggested that 30' tree spacing be required to make the area look less cluttered and limit parking of vehicles on the lawn.

Council Member Pike expressed concern with the 25' garage setback from the public street.

Mr. Nicholson replied that the setback works.

Planning Commission Member Kim Campbell commented that it was important to have trees and a high back curb is necessary to prevent vehicles from parking on the planter strip. He suggested that the tree canopies be looked at carefully as they will have to work for vehicles parking underneath them.

Planning Commission Member Ross Taylor commented that narrow street slow traffic but they also cause abuse of the sidewalk area. He stated the planter strip needed to have a steep curb so vehicles could not park on the grass. He inquired who would own the irrigation system and maintain it.

Council Member Shakespeare inquired about placement of garages to the back of the property as a 25' driveway will park only one car.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson advised that the setback to the garage is measured at the property line. In addition to that there will be a 5' sidewalk which is 11' feet beyond the curb, so there is 36' from the back of the curb to the garage at the closest point.

Community Development Director Bob Nicholson distributed the proposed amendments and reviewed them. He advised that a small committee was formed which has recommended the changes. The proposed amendments will be taken to the Planning Commission for a public hearing.

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MOTION: A motion to adjourn was made by Council Member Pike.
SECOND: The motion was seconded by Council Member Bunker.
VOTE: Mayor McArthur called for a vote as follows:

Council Member Pike - aye
Council Member Bunker - aye
Council Member Shakespeare - aye
Council Member Almquist - aye
Council Member Allen - aye

The vote was unanimous and the motion carried.

Gay Cragun, City Recorder