Council Meeting - February 7, 2023
Our latest meeting went much longer than I thought it would, but we had some helpful discussions. I’m happy to report that we made progress on very important topics.
The first item of our work meeting was a review of Heber City’s shell building policy. There are certain situations where a building is constructed with the intention of having separate tenants who will need to finish their own spaces. Unfortunately, the building department has found itself in the middle of issues between tenants and building owners when tenants want to finish their improvements faster than the building is being completed. This creates an issue because the main building must pass certain inspections before the tenants can work on their improvements.
Our next item of discussion was regarding amendments to the Mixed Use Residential Commercial Zone (MURCZ). The consultants from People + Place were there to assist as we’ve been working closely with them to update our codes. The updates in question only pertain to Chapter 18.42 to coordinate with the goals of the Envision Heber 2050 general plan. When it comes to items like these, I truly need to rely on the expertise of staff to know which direction to take. I’m not a city planner, nor am I an expert in engineering and building. Fortunately, I’m confident that the the professionals who work for Heber City continually steer us in the right direction. As a result, I supported moving forward with the changes proposed during this conversation.
The final work meeting item was one that I brought forward last September. We had a training from the State Trust during one of our public meetings, and in that training, they pointed out areas of our code that were unclear and needed updating. One of those items was in relation to whom the chief of police reports. Our form of government in Heber City is a weak mayor format. The chief executive is ultimately our city manager, and that individual should be the point person for all personnel in the city. Unfortunately, the current code does not make it clear whether the police chief reports to the mayor, city manager, or the Council. This is why we’re partnering with the city attorney to bring forward changes that clarify that the police chief reports to the Council. Although the city manager is the first point of contact for the police chief, the ultimate authority for that position lies with us. I believe this is an important clarification that should make it easier for everyone moving forward.
Surprisingly, the regular meeting began on time. The consent agenda had several draft minutes that needed to be approved, as well as the approval of a vehicle surplus liquidation by the public works department. There was also an ordinance amending the Planned Community Zone and I-2 Industrial Zones. The consent agenda was passed without much discussion.
Moving along, we had general business items that didn’t require action. We can discuss them and provide direction, but if action is required, they need to attend another meeting in the future. The first of these items was a discussion regarding the Ideal Theatre in downtown Heber City. It’s currently under contract to be purchased, which is why the potential buyer came to us to discuss parking needs. The majority of us completely understand that there are downtown parking issues that are not being addressed. My hope is for us to move towards developing a parking authority by the end of the year, in addition to identifying potential areas for parking structures. Although it’s still years away, when the bypass road has reached completion, we would like to have much more diagonal parking on Main Street. The Ideal Theatre buyer has plans to turn this into a multi-use building with an arcade and pool tables upstairs and an open space downstairs with a stage and dance floor. This would provide space for concerts and other gatherings. I’m open to allowing businesses to re-develop these older buildings downtown, as long as there is an option for parking nearby. For example, city offices near the Ideal Theatre aren’t used during many nights of the week or weekend. This would provide parking for larger groups. These are just short-term fixes and we are aware that we need a long-term solution.
Next, the Monthly Development Report was presented — and we’re tracking a bit behind 2021 and 2022. The Shiny Shell Car Wash positioned on the east side of Highway 40 is a concept site plan, but it was very interesting to see.
We had our first look at a site plan for the Jordanelle Ridge Clubhouse, which will include a barn, gym, sport court, bike shop, and the yurt. It’s worth mentioning that Tiger Woods announced plans to build his first mountain style golf course as part of the Jordanelle Ridge development. Although the announcement said the golf course would be in Park City, it will actually be within the limits of Heber City.
We also saw a site plan for the new Wasatch High School site and the Heber Light & Power administration building. Further, because Smith’s is building a new store north of the current one, they’re planning to move the Smith’s Fuel Center to that new store. We were able to preview this site plan as well. Finally, the final plat was presented for the Jordanelle Ridge phases, which will be built near Fitzgerald Road and Highway 40. As always, there is a lot of development around town and it’s exciting to see the creativity and work that goes into these projects.
Moving along, Airport Manager Travis Biggs presented possible airport amenities, including hangars for the glider community, a new park with equipment, a restaurant, and artwork to beautify the airport. Everything discussed is still in a very early phase of development and none of it is approved or moving forward at this time. Travis simply wanted to give us an idea of what is possible at the airport. I love his creativity and appreciate the hard work he put into coming up with ideas to make the airport more welcoming.
The first action item of the evening was pertaining to the new fire house that will be built on 1200 South. They need access to their property and are willing to give the city the necessary property to build the road, but don’t have the funding to build a road themselves. Eventually, this will be a corridor that runs from 1200 South to the aquatic center with a connection to Highway 40 at about 850 South. I made the motion on this item to approve the request for the road (having their construction teams build the road while we pay for it up to their property line). The hope is that The Views can build the other section of the road as part of their project and the school district can connect the two based on their future plans. This motion passed.
The second item on the action agenda was the approval of a Master Development Agreement (MDA) commercial mixed-use development located at 191 W. 100 S. They were requesting variances to the setbacks and design standards. Plus, they were hoping to build a a flat roof instead of a gable roof. This would extend the building standards we currently employed on Main Street to two blocks west. I made the motion to approve the request and it passed.
The next was to consider an amendment to the Zone Change Agreement for Park View Place, a development that has been stalled for several months. Due to the rising cost of labor and materials, the project has become too expensive to accomplish under the initial intention of providing affordable housing. Mountainlands Community Housing Trust still wants to complete the project, but they are asking for 10 units to be sold at market rate to ensure the success of the remaining affordable units.
My initial reaction was to inquire whether it would be best to raise the price of all units and still keep them deed-restricted. Unfortunately, I was told that this would probably price many people out. Rachel Kahler suggested that we reach out to the Wasatch Housing Authority to see if they would be willing to pay the difference of the construction costs to keep all of the homes affordable. I do like this idea, but I also understand the compromise Mountainlands brought forward. I made a motion to approve their request, which was seconded by Yvonne Barney, but it did not pass because we need a unanimous vote when only three councilmembers are present. We will reach out to the Wasatch Housing Authority to see if they can help make up the difference, and if not, I’m sure we can revisit this again to help the project move forward.
The next item was to approve additional costs for roadway improvements associated with the Sawmill Phase 6 development. The developer is building the road, but the city has requested that they increase the size and make improvements. This item was to approve whether the city would pay for the increased size of the road and it passed.
Further, Utah has made changes to laws pertaining to moderate income housing. As a result, we needed to adopt an ordinance to amend the moderate income housing element of the general plan in order to be in compliance. Staff made the modifications requested by the State and verified that the plan meets the code. This was perhaps the quickest action item I’ve seen us tackle as it only required four minutes of discussion. As we prepare for Council meetings, we do quite a bit of homework and research to ensure we’re ready to vote. It was nice to see that work in action.
The last item on the agenda was reviewing the Council Budget and Policy Priorities for Fiscal Year 2023-2024. This was brought forward by City Manager Matt Brower and there were no votes to be taken on this item. This was simply a good reminder of what our priorities are for the year ahead.
Some of those priorities include:
An eastern bypass road name
Committee alignment with Council priorities
Dark sky initiatives
Staffing recruitment, retention, and assessment
The new cemetery administration building
Affordable housing plans
Central Heber water and sewer replacement project
Envision Central Heber
Envision Heber 2050
As you can see, there is a lot we need to accomplish over the next year. That said, I’m confident that we’re capable and ready to tackle these topics. I look forward to working together on these initiatives and much more.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council