Planning Commission Minutes

Tuesday, February 9,2010



PLANNING COMMISSION
CITY OF ST. GEORGE
WASHINGTON COUNTY, UTAH
February 9, 2010 5:00 P.M.

PRESENT: Acting Chairman Ron Bracken
Councilman Ben Nickle
Commissioner Kim Campbell
Commissioner Ross Taylor
Commissioner Ron Read
Commissioner Chapin Burks
Commissioner Mike Nobis
Commissioner Julie Hullinger

CITY STAFF: Deputy City Attorney Paula Houston
Community Development Director Bob Nicholson
Planner II Ray Snyder
Planner Craig Harvey
Development Services Manager Jay Sandberg
Secretary Gail Williams

CALL TO ORDER

Acting Chairman Ron Bracken called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. Acting Chairman Ron Bracken led the flag salute.

1. DISCUSSION ON LITTLE VALLEY COMMITTEE RECOMENDATIONS

A discussion by the Planning Commission to consider the recommendations of the Little Valley Plan Review Committee.

Bob Nicholson, Community Development Director stated that the purpose tonight is to have a discussion on the recommendations where a consensus was reached by the Little Valley Committee. This is a discussion this evening and no voting is anticipated. Bob stated that two of the Planning Commission members were on that committee; Acting Chairman Ron Bracken and Commissioner Mike Nobis. Bob went on to say that Ed Burgess and Paul Gooch are with us this evening and they were on the committee also, so four of the eight members of the Little Valley Committee are with us this evening.

The City Council established a committee to review the Little Valley Sub-Area Plan which was approved by the City Council in March 2007. The 8 member committee met ten times during 2009 and reached a consensus on some issues but did not reach a consensus on all issues. The areas of consensus included recommendations on five issues. Those issues are;

1. Equestrian Trail Modification; Modify proposed equestrian trail to delete the equestrian trail along 3000 East north of 2450 South Street and instead pursue an equestrian trail in a lower loop along the base of the airport hill, then along the Ft Pierce Wash to intersect with the Washington Canal Coyote Springs Drive Seegmiller Drive, completing a triangular-shaped loop. Also pursue trailheads large enough to park horse trailers near the Ft Pierce Wash and also near the Virgin River.

Two maps were displayed behind the Commissioners and Bob explained them. Because 3000 East will become a four and five lane highway at some point in the future, the road is planned to be widened when the bridge across the Virgin River is put in, it would not be a suitable equestrian trail route. In lieu of that, Bob showed the new loop that is being planned, which is the committee recommendation. Staff also supports that.

2. Density Feathering; to provide a density transition from large lot (1-acre lot) subdivisions to smaller lots. New development would be required to have lots adjacent to existing large lots at least one-half to three-fourths the size of the acre lots (e.g. 20,000 sq ft to 37,500 sq ft lots).

Bob displayed a map that shows transition density. Bob said there was a consensus that this was a good idea.

Chairman Bracken pointed out that this was not a unanimous consensus, that there were a few people that thought it was a good idea.

Bob responded that generally it was a consensus. He said what we want to talk about tonight is how will we implement this when a developer comes in.

3. Lot Size Averaging; Allow Lot Size Averaging within the Residential Estates Zones similar to what is currently allowed in the R-1-10 Single Family Zones. This Lot size averaging would apply to the RE-12.5, RE-20, and RE-37.5 zones similarly to the provisions in the R-1-10 zone.

Bob said Silkwood is a development that is a good example of lot size averaging and the zoning there is R-1-10. Bob said the lots range from as small as 7000 sq. ft. up to 1400 sq. ft. Bob said there is no more density achieved, it is just a mix in lot sizes. That provision currently exists in the R-1-1-, R-1-12 zones and it was suggested that it be included in the RE zones as they are typically larger lots and it would allow for animals. This was supported by the Committee.

4. Right to Farm; Include Right-to Farm provisions on all new subdivision plats and also added to the Citys Nuisance ordinance.

Bob stated that Larry Blake made a strong case that this should be drafted as an ordinance. A draft of this was included in the packets. Our legal department is reviewing this to add the Right to Farm into the City Nuisance Ordinance. This could give the farmers more protection for things related to agricultural operations.

5. Community Gardens; Support and encourage the use of community gardens in common areas as part of the amenity package for projects which have common area and open space requirements.

Bob said these were the five areas of consensus.

Comments: The above committee recommendations should be acted on by both the Planning Commission and the City Council and could be adopted as either elaboration on existing development policies for the Little Valley area, or could be adopted as ordinance amendments, or a combination of both policy updates and zoning code amendments.

Staff Recommendation:

1. Revise the equestrian trail map as recommended by the committee.

Bob explained that the equestrian trail would be the lower loop as shown on the map behind the Commissioners. In addition to that there are some trail stubs from the Little Valley Rancho subdivision down towards Seegmiller Park.

Commissioner Taylor asked if there was a determination where the trail heads would be and if they could accommodate several horse trailers.

Bob Nicholson responded that along the Ft. Pierce Wash you could have a trail head to accommodate horse trailers and that somewhere along the Virgin River you would have a trailhead as well as a trail head to accommodate horse trailers along the base of the hill of the airport ridge.

Commissioner Taylor asked if the land was available or if it was public land.

Bob responded that it was not public land, but these are concepts and not specific.

Commissioner Read asked if the spurs were available for hook up or if they fade out .

Bob stated the interior spurs were part of the original trail map. The idea is that gradually over time, working with property owners and developers, to get the trail easements.

He said there are some trail easements already along the canal route and that at the Ft. Pierce Wash, most of it would be down in the flood plain.

2. Adopt the density feathering requirement as an update to the Policy section of the Little Valley Plan. Existing policy #14 (p. 11 of Plan document) would be updated to read (new section underlined), Densities shall feather, or transition, in a gradual pattern with higher densities in neighborhood centers. When new development locates adjacent to or within 100 of an existing large lot subdivision (one acre lot minimums), the new adjacent perimeter lots must be at least 20,000 sq ft in size or have a corresponding density of no more than 2 homes per acre. The City Council may approve modifications to this density feathering standard where a similar density transition result is achieved.

Bob said what we are hoping to do is give more direction as to how to enhance this. He said we do have zoning applications in the wings and as staff they tell them to feather that density around the horse subdivisions. Bob said we are trying to give the developers the type of direction where there will be some predictability so they can satisfy the Planning Commission and City Council. Bob said we are looking at concepts as to how to feather this density.

Acting Chairman Bracken questioned how this was stated and Bob explained that it was only the perimeter lots.

Acting Chairman Bracken thought that you need to look at each piece individually in making this determination. He would like flexibility to be given to the developer, to look at what is actually there and work with the people around there.

Bob clarified that they are suggesting that density feathering applies to the existing large lot subdivisions, not just existing large parcels. He said this density feathering would only come in to play adjacent to an existing subdivision.

Commissioner Taylor clarified that this would be for the existing equestrian subdivisions and Bob responded that is the proposal; they focused on existing platted subdivisions because there is some certainty on this.

Commissioner Nobis asked if the new equestrian type subdivisions would have to abide by this also or only specifically the three existing subdivisions? He suggested that we limit it to and name the three existing subdivisions.

Bob asked the Commissioners opinion on that suggestion and Commissioner Read said if it is good for the existing subdivisions why is it not good for the future ones too?

Commissioner Nobis said if you define it you can eliminate the problem.

Bob said we dont foresee new large lot subdivisions coming in. He said we felt there was an obligation to the existing subdivisions which was spelled out in the plan. He said that what we have been focusing on is the density feathering around those subdivisions.

Commissioner Taylor said he feels that the more definite the ordinance is defined, the better.

Bob said we have been fairly specific in item # 2.

Commissioner Taylor said it is fairly well defined and that there will always be a challenge. He sees that they are trying for protection for the existing large lots and theyve tried to open up the property to the point where it can be appropriately developed.

Bob said we are not suggesting that this becomes part of the zoning ordinance because that becomes very rigid, but this could provide some general direction.

3. Amend the Zoning Code to allow Lot Size Averaging in the RE zones as follows (new section underlined)

10-7A-6: D (Residential Estates Zones modifying regulations)

D. Lot Size Averaging
1. Purpose: Lot size averaging is an alternative to traditional minimum lot size standards and encourages a mix of lot sizes within a subdivision. The overall density of the zoning district remains approximately the same, but flexibility is provided in the mix of lot sizes.


2. Standards:
a. Lot size averaging is a permitted use within the RE-12.5, RE-20, and Re-37.5 zones. Project density shall not exceed the following;
RE-12.5 2.6 d.u. / acre
RE-20 1.8 d.u. / acre
RE-37.5 1.2 d.u. / acre

b. No lot size shall be reduced to less than 70% of the required lot size for the applicable zoning district. Minimum lot frontage (width) shall remain at 80 feet.
c. Lot size averaging shall apply to new subdivisions and not to existing recorded plats.

Bob said on the first two, eight plats were pulled out and that is where these numbers come from. He said this is the suggestion and he thinks it will work well.

Commissioner Read asked why we would not allow an existing plat to come in if they are struggling and amend the plats. He said if lot size averaging would work, why not let them do it.

Bob said we could certainly delete that.

Commissioner Nobis said it would be good to bring up the residential estate zones and the animals and uses allowed in that zone.

Bob explained the small and large animal privileges in those subdivisions as well as the egg and produce sales that would be allowed in those residential estates.

Bob said C could be deleted entirely.

4. Revise the Nuisance Ordinance to include Right to Farm provisions.

Bob mentioned the proposed draft to the Nuisance Ordinance and it was mentioned that our legal department did not yet get a change to look at this yet.

5. Support the inclusion of Community Gardens in new projects which have open space or common area requirements.

Bob went on to say that we would encourage developers in this area.

Commissioner Taylor asked if the sale of home produce could be included in the Little Valley area and Bob said yes we could. He said Little Valley is zoned agricultural and that is allowed, however he said the issue comes in these residential estate zones. We could come back with an ordinance change for this for the RE zones.

Bob said these are the items that the Little Valley Committee came to consensus on. On big issues there was not a consensus. He is asking the Planning Commission to give their input.

Acting Chairman Bracken tried to clarify where this would go from here.

Bob explained that public hearing would come back to the Planning Commission.

Commissioner Read asked where the 100 ft. would apply in the lot size averaging. He said what if an R-1-10 lot is adjacent to this. He said you could have two lots involved then.

Commissioner Nobis said the difference is that it is an existing recorded subdivision.

Commissioner Read said we are not fixing the issue of acres next to low residential housing, we are only fixing it on these three existing subdivisions.

Commissioner Nobis said they should specifically name the three existing subdivisions.

Bob said item # 2, would come back with an amendment.

Commissioner
Taylor asked if on the last page of the draft, we could have agricultural sales included.

Deputy City Attorney Paula Houston said that would need to go on the Business License section and not in the nuisance section. She said they will need to work on the location of it.

Commissioner Nobis said he would hate to see subdivision after subdivision up and down 3000 East. He would like to support a high use of commercial along this. It is a huge road, that has great capacity and it would suit it well.

Bob pointed out the commercial nodes on the map behind the Commissioners. He said rather than having strip commercial, these will be neighborhood commercial centers.

Commissioner Nobis said he will come back to the fact that we need more commercial along that corridor.

Bob said the City reviews the General Plan every five years.

Acting Chairman Bracken invited the public to come to the microphone to voice their opinions. He asked for a limit of three minutes per person.

Paul Gooch came to the podium. He said the debate from the committee got turned from what he was hoping to have out there, which was to preserve small scale ag. usage. He said he appreciates that an ordinance could come in to play to protect them from agricultural nuisance complaints. He appreciates that they could do agri business and agri sales out there, but he said the style of development out there will have a bigger impact on whatever the ordinances are. He said you can not preserve it by isolating it. He said that is why they have been so vocal. This is part of St. George heritage and that we would be eliminating people that could benefit the City at some time. The corridor that is not connected to ag use, then it really is isolated in a way that wont let it go on for perpetuity. He said as St. George has grown up the ag. Use has been stuffed in little pockets. He said if it had critical mass then it would make some of these other things not matter. All of the gymnastic that we are going through is to try and preserve the three subdivisions. He said for a few people in these subdivisions you would put in infrastructural for a trail there. He said the ultimate size of the fire there is what is in question. Paul said this is not just for horse, but for ag use in the fullest sense of the word.

Commissioner Read asked Paul if we have addressed his issues or does he have recommendations that are better than what we talked about tonight.

Paul Gooch said this is still development isolation. He said the style and feel of the area will have input on how people use the property. He doesnt see that activity flourish if those neighborhoods get surrounded. The corridor has natural features that could provide the boundaries that would make it workable. Most people on the committee felt that was way too much to ask for.

Commissioner Nobis said when we speak specifically about lot size averaging and the usages you could have in residential estates, the 4-H idea and horse idea, he got the impression that could solve the issue.

Paul responded that it would be nice, but he still thinks the style of development put in place is going to have the biggest pressure on if that happens or not. The style of the development will have a big impact on that.

Paul Iverson came to the podium. He said when this all started about 5 years ago, a comment that was being used by the City staff was that they didnt want to have a patch There is a patchwork at Little Valley Estates, Little Valley Ranchos, Rancho Verde and then it was just left wide open. He said that supposedly we are a representative form of government and we are supposed to represent the people. He said the mass voice at the meeting he attended said leave this agricultural out there, but yet it got passed the other way. He said then there was an up cry and here we are back again. Paul said if there is going to be some following of what the citizens want, you will leave a large corridor of agricultural out there. He said if not , there isnt much reason to have a meetings; just punch it through and be done with it. Paul said the question has been raised about purchasing lots and when he bought his lot he had three requirements. It had to be an acre, it had to has Dixie Escalante Power and it had it have irrigation water with it. It took him a year and a half to find that piece of property. He said there is a demand out there, but it is outside of the normal box, he will agree on that. He doesnt know that the government is set up to be concerned about the ultimate free market enterprise. It is set up to say what is the best for our citizens and what do our citizens want. He thinks the citizens in Little Valley have cried long and loud and have cried out and are tired. They want some agricultural area left in the city and he thinks that is the only question that is here.

Tiffany Harris came to the podium. She said she came from Colorado and that they were where we are trying to be now. She saw the impact of what they are trying to decide. She looked at property in Colorado and the ag. use was being grandfathered out because of these developments that were around them. She said they came and purchased their lot in Little Valley because at the time the Mayor was saying that they would preserve Little Valley as an agricultural area. That was a big factor to them because they saw in Colorado how those areas went away. Tiffany said that we also need to think about 40 years down the road and thinking about community sustainability. She said that Paul Iverson grew 3000 lbs of tomatoes on his small lot and as more and more farms are getting eaten up and our produce is coming from Mexico and other places out of this country, She stated that we need to think of how we are sustaining our community. Tiffany said Little Valley can produce a lot of food. She does like some of the suggestions that have been made, but she does think a critical mass needs happen to preserve this area.

Janet Traveler came to the podium. Her father Kent Bentley put in the water line to Little Valley. She has been raised with the love for this place and she understands what these people are saying. Her father put in Little Rancho Estates because he wanted people to fulfill their dream of one acre lots. A few of these people have horses. A lot of the people decided they dont have the money to have horses and buy hay, so now there are lots of weeds. The majority of people cannot afford horses. She said that for the 50 plus acres that she has left, she doesnt want one acre lots. She wants the option to have smaller lots. She thinks that on a half acre lot, people can have a box garden and grow their own produce. They dont need to have an acre lot. She asked about the new equestrian trail and where it will be. She asked where the boundaries will be.

Bob Nicholson came to the podium to demonstrate this to her on the map behind the Commissioners.

Janet Traveler said she has property along the canal and she wonders if the trail was on her property and the answer was no. She said she can see the dream and its a wonderful dream, but in todays society it is just not possible for a lot of people.

Acting Chairman Bracken responded that in reference to that, that was one of the problems they had. He said there was a meeting where we had the majority of the property owners down there who own larger lots come to the meeting. Their consensus was 100% that they did not want to put large lots on it; the cost of developing large lots is prohibitive and the demand for those lots was not in the market range where they would be sold.

Shannon Klomp came to the podium and stated that she has a .98 acre lot and she has pigs in the back and she wouldnt want them any closer. She said a half acre is just a little too close for comfort. She said you do need an acre to get a good size garden and have chickens and pigs. She said you need a corridor to preserve it. She said if people cant live that dream, then there are a lot of homes for sale in St. George where they can go to find a home on a smaller lot. She said the pearl and the beauty of Little Valley is that it is different. She loves the feel of it and the new neighborhood going in has changed the feel and it is tainted. She said there needs to be a mass.

Aaron Klomp came to the podium. He is the husband of Shannon. Aaron stated that if there is no place to fulfill your dream, then it also cannot be fulfilled. He said right now there is a place and they would like to preserve it. He said looking down the road 20-40 years you could look at 3000 and see industrial and gas stations and street lights or in 20-40 years you could till have this little oasis that people can go to and enjoy. He said you can plan it either way.

The discussion was closed.

2. MINUTES

Consider approval of the Planning Commission minutes for January 26, 2010.

MOTION: Commissioner Nobis made a motion to approve the minutes for January 26, 2010. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Burks. All voted aye, motion passes.



MOTION TO ADJOUR: Commissioner Burks made a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Nobis seconded it. All voted aye, motion passes. The time was 6:39 p.m.