Another successful council meeting is complete, and I’m happy to say that it was full of productive and important conversations.
During a work meeting, we entertained discussion of MDA for George Bennett’s projects located at 242 South 100 West and 900 South Southfield Road. The project on 100 West is a multi-unit building that isn’t currently zoned for that type of construction. While this was not a voting item, Mr. Bennett was seeking support from the council. I spoke about the importance of prioritizing work on the downtown overlay zone (also known as the DOZ), which should align and cover the two blocks east and west of Main Street. On the parcel at 900 Southfield Road, Mr. Bennett wants to construct a small specialized school, along with living arrangements in three single-story buildings on the property. Overall, the council seemed to be on board with this idea. It’s on a main feeder road and in close proximity to Heber Valley Assisted Living, as well as other group homes. The plan seems to make perfect sense for this specific location.
The council also discussed proposed amendments to fence regulations, particularly in commercial areas. This will primarily affect new fences being built for properties extending to the north and south parts of town, such as the North Village Overlay Zone (NVOZ). The council was in favor of many of the suggestions brought forth by staff. We are all in agreement that we need to have attractive commercial properties under development in the city.
Moving on, we had a discussion regarding a proposed zone change for 67 East 200 North from R-3 Residential to R-3 Commercial. This was a delicate topic due to the fact that it is a historic home flanked by commercial and residential properties. I took the opportunity to voice my concerns about any attempt to control how landowners use (or decide not to use) historical buildings. While I encourage preservation of our unique historic elements, I am favorable to the zone change. Again, this falls within what will eventually be the DOZ. We want to continue to grow our downtown and expand the coverage area by at least two blocks out from Main Street to the east and west.
Another item on the agenda during our work meeting was consideration to amend a part of the Heber City code regarding beer gardens. Heber Valley Brewing Company would like to include a beer garden as part of the concert in the park, also known as the Market on Main, held on Thursdays in the summer. In my opinion, this will enable people to enjoy adult beverages responsibly. There are already individuals bringing alcohol to these events illegally, which is why it’s preferable to allow alcohol in a controlled environment. Most of the council seemed to be on the same page regarding this concept.
The remaining time of our discussion period was spent brainstorming about updating the rules of order and procedure for the council. This has been a topic of discussion in several meetings as we try to grapple with a rapidly growing community. Meetings have been running extremely long, and in many cases, have not followed the existing rules of order. I took this as an opportunity to address the recent newsletter written by Mayor Franco, released with the water bill a few weeks ago. To be honest, I didn’t appreciate how she misrepresented our discussion concerning the rules of order. Our conversation pertaining to the rules and previous meetings was extensive, but she chose to take only a few snippets and post them in a newsletter to prove a point. For example, she quoted me discussing constituents who use email as a way to voice their concerns about particular items. I am happy to double down on my way of thinking. It is productive for council members to have comments ahead of the meeting when action may be taken on a given subject. I have only been in this role for a few months, which is why I deeply appreciate public input. The feedback of our citizens is crucial as we make important decisions, and I urge everyone to stay engaged throughout the process.
After two hours of discussion, the regular meeting kicked off with an abundance of action items. The planning department’s monthly report gave us great insight into the recent happenings in Heber City.
A fuel station at Walmart
Commercial development on Main Street next to One Stop
Self-help homes development
A new small development off of Southfield Road, near the railroad tracks
A subdivision concept for Jordanelle Ridge
The site plan for the new London residence phase 1
All of these projects seem to be thoroughly researched in order to benefit the Heber City master plan, as well as much-needed housing of varying degrees. I look forward to seeing progress on all of these developments.
One of the longer items on the agenda was a proposed Muirfield Park conservation easement. We are looking to expand this park by five acres, adding a conservation easement on the property to keep it natural, but still enjoyable for residents of Heber City. Preserving open space is incredibly important to me. While some may argue that development conflicts with open space, these goals actually walk hand-in-hand. As we look to the future, it’s essential to have concentrated “city center” areas. This density actually allows us to keep more open space. If we continue to practice sprawl development, all of our open space will soon be gone.
Moving along, we were able to approve the final amendments to Chapter 18 of the city code for sign regulations. This was a long time coming! I served on the board of adjustment for many years, and we saw several cases pertaining to signage in Heber City. We finally have a strong code that appropriately reflects the character of our community. I’d like to extend my gratitude to everyone working so hard to make this happen.
We also approved the inclusion of pressurized irrigation into phase one of the central Heber water replacement project, and also approved to expand the phase one project area for an estimated cost of $43 million. While it sounds like a lot of money, this infrastructure has been neglected for quite some time. Unfortunately, we do not have the savings to pay for this type of a project.
That $43 million is going to come from the following sources:
$20.5 million loan for pressurized irrigation, sewer, and roads
Bond of up to $12.7 million for water and roads
State ARPA grant of $3 million for sewer, water, and roads
Federal ARPA grant of $2 million for design engineering, inspection and investigation
Culinary impact fees to cover $1.7 million for water and pressurized irrigation
Capital projects budget of up to $1 million for roads
The council is aware that this is a lot of money. It will cost the citizens of Heber City when it comes to water, sewer, and pressurized irrigation bills. For this reason, it was not an easy decision to make. We know the work needs to be done in order to have the type of service we expect in Heber City. Going forward, it is my hope that there is some sort of savings we can put away every year to help pay for these types of improvement projects.
The last decision of the meeting was to discuss an alternate park location for the fitness court. Unfortunately, the corporate owners of Red Ledges are opposed to having it in the park adjacent to their property. One suggestion was for the fitness court to be placed with a new park that will be developed near the high school. This location at the high school is more accessible, making it a strong contender.
As you can see, there was a lot to get to during this meeting. The stages of team development include forming, storming, norming, and performing. Nearly every team has to pass through these four stages of development before they become a truly effective unit. There has been some storming during these first three months, but I am confident that we are getting closer to the norming and performing stages of that process. I look forward to working with the entire council to help guide the progress of Heber City in the direction dictated by the Envision 2050 Heber master plan.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council