City Council Minutes

Thursday, March 11,2010

City of St. George Council Meeting
Work Meeting
March 11, 2010, 4:00 p.m.
Administrative Conference Room

Mayor Daniel McArthur
Council Member Almquist
Council Member Bunker
Council Member Nickle
Council Member Pike
Council Member Shakespeare
City Manager Gary Esplin
City Attorney Shawn Guzman
Deputy City Recorder Ren Fleming

Mayor McArthur opened the meeting and welcomed everyone in attendance.

The pledge of allegiance was led by Mayor McArthur. The invocation was offered by Council Member Bunker

The council made a site visit to the Washington County Shooting Park located adjacent to the Washington County Fairgrounds.

Discussion on side yard setback requirements in residential zones
Present for the discussion Community Development Director Nicholson

City Manager Esplin indicated this issue was raised a few months ago. He noted there are encroachments in the older part of town where people have illegally built in the side yard, the violation being discovered after the fact. He indicated staff has researched alternatives and surveyed other cities to determine how these issues are handled. He advised this issue is on the agenda to provide the council with information to consider before it is added to a regular agenda.

Community Development Director Nicholson distributed a handout defining a side yard, photos of violations of current code, a survey of 31 cities and a memo with alternatives to consider. He explained that aesthetics and public safety are the main reasons for requiring side yard setbacks. The public safety aspect relates to fire code and the need for empty space between homes to reduce the possibility of fire jumping from one roof to another.

Mr. Nicholson indicated there are a few exceptions to the setback requirements in Utah. However, even the exceptions required some amount of empty space between two lots.
There was discussion regarding the older part of town where garages have been enclosed and awnings for parking cover installed to the property line.

Mr. Nicholson reviewed the current side yard setback requirement and the options available to the council. One option is to keep the current ordinance requirements and allow appeals for hardship cases. A second option is to amend the zoning code and allow for car ports open on three sides with an open area on the adjoining lot or require the carport to incorporate a sprinkler suppression system and be constructed of non-flammable material in order to comply with fire code.

City Manager Esplin commented that in the newer areas of the city there is no hardship because the lots are larger and garages are common on homes. However, there isnt way to catch violations before something is erected, so a hardship appeal may be made due to the cost incurred in construction and demolition if ordered due to the violation. In the older area of town the lots are smaller and homes generally dont have garages. The council may want to consider allowing exceptions in that area with consent of the adjoining lot property owner.

There was discussion regarding issues related to homes selling and new owners that may not want to honor an agreement made with the prior owners.

Mayor McArthur suggested putting this item on a regular agenda so the council can make a decision. He suggested including both options on the agenda and holding a public hearing on the issue.

Discussion regarding Fine Arts and Crafts Market/special events
Present for this discussion Ed Wallis.

Mr. Wallis distributed copies of prepared notes from which he read. He requested a variance to allow an open air art fair and to waive the special event fees.

There was discussion concerning the location of the fair which is held in the food court area of the Promenade shopping center.

Mayor McArthur indicated he has been contacted by another person who wants to sell fruit in the parking lot of a store on Bluff Street and indicated this brought up a question regarding the collection of sales tax and what kind of vendors would be allowed within the city limits.

Mr. Wallis indicated vendors collect sales tax and file reports with the state.

City Manger Esplin indicated there is an issue with the street vendor competing with businesses that pay property taxes and rent and are tied to the community.

There was discussion regarding a variance granted for the art fairs held to date. The variance includes a stipulation that the event cant compete with the stores within the Promenade. The discussion included the benefits and concerns of this type of event.

There was discussion regarding other places for an artist to sell and competition with existing galleries.

Mr. Wallis indicated the special event fees are difficult for the artists to afford. He discussed his efforts to get something going with several artists sharing space in a vacant store space and the reasons it didnt work.

Council Member Almquist commented that there isnt really a place to go where people can look at a lot of art in one place even if they are not planning to spend a lot of money.

The council discussed how the seasonal Farmers Market is handled. There is an annual request for a special event permit which has been granted.

There was discussion regarding the reason for the special event fee when vendors pay a booth rental fee to a private entity and collect sales tax. The fee allows the city to regulate the event and ensure vendors pay sales tax.

Mr. Wallis outlined the time frame of the events. He indicated hed like to hold the fairs until Memorial Day with a break through the summer months and begin again in September with a break in January and February. He reviewed some of the fees hes paid for events in other states.

City Manager Esplin suggested that Mr. Wallis request a special event permit for September to May and pay one fee to hold several fairs during that time period. He indicated it can be put on an upcoming regular meeting agenda in a couple of weeks. He asked Mr. Wallis to provide some information on fees hes paid for holding events similar to this in other areas.

There was discussion concerning similar requests and if allowing the fair under discussion this evening would open the door to vendors and events that would not be compatible with the community.

City Manger Esplin indicated by requiring a special event permit, any requests would come before the council for review and approval. If a special event was approved but didnt comply with the application submitted, the city could shut down the event.

Discussion regarding short-term rentals in residential zones

City Manager Esplin explained the components of short-term rentals that create problems in the community. He indicated this is a problem cities face nationwide. In the past, staff has tried to enforce ordinance by sending letters to the owners explaining the state tax regulations, indicating that the State Tax Commission would be notified of the short-term rental business in operation. However, the provision hasnt been enforced while staff has been researching the best way to handle this issue.

Mayor McArthur indicated he met with Kent Mitchell, president of Tuweep Home Owners Association, this afternoon. There are some owners operating homes as short-term rentals within this HOA.

Mr. Nicholson explained that staff did a quick internet search and found a number of short-term listing for St. George. He explained some of the rentals comply because they are located in zones where it is permitted, others did not comply and some were not able to be verified as the address was not listed in the advertisement.

Mr. Nicholson distributed a handout which he reviewed with the council. The handout defined short-term rental as a rental of less than 30 days. It also detailed the zones where short-term rentals are allowed.

Mr. Nicholson reviewed a draft amendment to the ordinance, highlighting paragraph D which has several significant changes to the existing ordinance.

There was discussion regarding the 100 unit Planned Unit Development (PUD) allowance as well as the regulation involving a PUD located on a regulation 18 hole golf course. There was discussion regarding the amount of land available to accommodate the 100 unit size of a PUD and golf course.

There was discussion regarding how to handle existing issues of short-term rentals in zones that dont permit that as a use. Concern has been raised by homeowners in single family residential areas that find homes in the neighborhood are being rented on a short-term basis. The amount of transient people and cars in the neighborhoods is of concern.

The regulations in the proposed ordinance with respect to zoning requirements were reviewed. Items such as parking, number of automobiles allowed, landscape maintenance and business license requirements were discussed.

The penalties for violations and how violations can be handled was discussed. ACE court fines may be applicable.

Mr. Mitchell asked why letters cannot be sent now to the State Tax Commission and to the mortgage companies notifying them of this use of the property.

City Manger Esplin commented that he didnt think the State Tax Commission would be of assistance in the case Mr. Mitchell spoke about. He indicated to the council staff could pursue the

violations under the current ordinance or wait until the proposed amendments were approved before taking action.

Mr. Mitchell commented that those in his HOA that are renting homes are professional people who wont default on their loans and would respond to notice of violation from either the State Tax Commission or the mortgage companies rather than default on their home loans.

The process of how to handle the proposed ordinance amendment and the need to set public hearings was reviewed. The council expressed agreement to move ahead with the proposed ordinance.

City Manager Esplin asked the council if they want staff to go forward with enforcing the current ordinance.

City Attorney Guzman indicated staff will have to rely on the neighbors to help because it is difficult to get evidence other than through a complaint.

The council agreed that staff should investigate current problems and enforce the current ordinance.

Other business
Mayor McArthur asked about vendors that dont have to collect sales tax such as those that sell produce grown on a family owned farm during the growing season.

Deputy City Attorney Houston indicated there have been several inquiries relating to this issue.

There was a brief discussion regarding allowing vendors to sell produce in store parking lots with the store owners permission.

Mayor McArthur asked staff to research the issue to determine if it would be allowed.

Council Member Bunker indicated she heard an interesting presentation on the demographics of Washington County and St. George specifically. She commented that it would be interesting to the council and suggested the presentation be made a work meeting. She also reminded the group that the Art Around the Corner event will be on Friday the March 19, 2010.

Council Member Bunker noted the Elks Lodge received a $10,000 grant for students at Millcreek to better their lives. She asked if it would be possible to recognize organizations or people who have done something significant to help the community.

Mayor McArthur suggested making it a topic for an upcoming Mayors Forum television show. It would be aired a number of times in a week and provide good exposure.

Council Member Bunker indicated she has been contacted about Heritage Week which was not celebrated this year and asked if anyone was going to organize it next year. She also commented that an interesting art store opened next to Bear Paw Caf.

Council Member Bunker explained three people have called about adding a traffic light on St. James and River Road intersection.

Council Member Bunker advised that the public art committee is evaluating places to display the guitar statues in Town Square. She also asked if anyone had resolved the question of the poem to be printed on a wall in replacement airport terminal.

There was discussion regarding the poem, the title or subject of the poem and who had suggested it be printed on a wall.

City Manager Esplin indicated he will look into the issue.

Council Member Almquist advised that March 31st is an open forum meeting.

There was a brief discussion regarding E-Verify and the legislation passed by the State Legislature which if signed by the Governor it will become law.

Council Member Pike indicated The University of Utah alumni association is sponsoring a presentation by Brenda Sheer about the Vision Dixie program on March 18, 2010.


The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:00 pm.

Minutes recorded by:

Ren Fleming Deputy City Recorder