Council Meeting - July 19, 2022
Our city council meeting on July 19th started with a closed session to discuss the potential purchase of real estate. This session lasted for about an hour before we started the official work meeting.
The first item on the work meeting agenda was a discussion regarding Affordable Housing Action Plan priorities. In 2019, the Utah State Legislature passed S.B. 34, requiring cities to address moderate income housing in the general plan and list a minimum of three strategies to address the housing needs. S.B. 34 also requires annual reporting, which is why staff members were looking for input on implementation strategies prior to the initial draft of the Moderate Income Housing Plan (MIHP) update. The second item on the work agenda was an update to the Heber City code pertaining to flood plain damage prevention. We discussed the fact that trailer and RV parks are not allowed in the floodplain under the current code.
The regular meeting kicked off just after 6:00pm and I was honored to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Have you ever noticed that as we recite this pledge there is a pause between the phrases “one nation” and “under God?” I prefer to say these as one phrase without a pause. I believe this reiterates our commitment to living up to the weight of that phrase.
Following the pledge of allegiance, Mayor Franco proceeded to lecture us about decorum and professionalism during meetings. It made for an awkward moment as it truly felt like she was talking down to us. I respect and appreciate the need for proper behavior and etiquette, but this should pertain to all parties involved. I have only been a member of the council for six months, and from that very first meeting, it has been difficult to communicate in a professional manner. I find that whenever I’m stating an opinion, asking a question, or inquiring to understand and improve a situation, I am often interrupted or disregarded. I am the first to admit that I have asked the mayor some difficult questions, but after many emails and attempts at discord, we have had no interactions that I would consider professional or productive.
Moving along to the consent agenda, approvals included minutes from the previous meeting, a pavement striping contract with Peck Striping, and an MOU with Community Alliance For Main Street. There were also mayoral appointments for the City Council, Trees Subcommittee, and Open Space, Trails, Parks, and Trees Advisory Committee. There was quite a bit of discussion pertaining to these items. Prior to the meeting, Mayor Franco emailed us stating her desire to clarify the minutes from the previous meeting. The clarification was pertaining to statements made by Councilmember Stack, who was not in attendance at this meeting. We voted to push that item to the next meeting in an effort to give Councilmember Stack an opportunity to address those concerns in person.
The only other discussion we had was pertaining to mayoral appointments, one of which would place me on the Historic Preservation Committee. I am definitely open to serving on the committee, but I brought up the fact that I have a conflict on many Wednesday nights and may not be available for every meeting. Fortunately, we came to the resolution that if a member is unable to attend a meeting, they can ask another councilmember to attend in their place. This will help us ensure that the council’s desires are being communicated.
It’s worth noting that the topic of appointments has been contentious from the beginning. In our first meeting of the year, Mayor Franco brought forward councilmember appointments without any advice or consent from the members. She did not ask for preferences or input from those already participating and sitting as active members of boards. Instead, she took it upon herself to make changes in those assignments without consultation. There have been several instances over the last six months when different members of the council have asked that those board appointments be brought back for discussion and finalization. Unfortunately, that never occurred. This was the first meeting agenda item pertaining to those appointments in six months. Likewise, part of the discussion was also asking to ratify members in their current appointed positions. That did not take place, although the mayor did say those council members could continue to serve in their current capacities with no ratification necessary.
Next on the agenda: a few general business items. The first of which was a proposal from Councilmember Barney to name the Red Ledges Park for the McNaughton family. Yvonne gave a wonderful presentation honoring the history of the McNaughtons, who owned some of the property where Red Ledges currently sits. Although I love and appreciate the McNaughton family, I really feel it’s more appropriate to name the park after the Jordan family. They too have deep roots in the Heber Valley with descendants who paid for and provided the property for the park.
We then heard from Jonelle Fitzgerald, who gave us a presentation on the Wasatch County Health Departments Annual Report. I know I can speak for the entire community when I say we are so grateful for their service, especially as it pertains to COVID-19 mitigation measures over the last two years. To everyone at the health department, I’d like to thank you so much for what you accomplish every day.
Russ Funk, the City Engineer also presented an update on the Central Heber Water and Sewer Line Project. It appears things are running a little behind schedule due to supply chain issues, but overall, the project has been a great success. As work progresses, they have found more problems than we initially anticipated. The good news is, this project is going to help fix a lot of the issues that have stacked up over the years. It is the largest project in Heber City history and will have a great impact for many years to come.
Moving along to the action items, there were only three on the agenda. The first was to approve a revised contract for our consultants at People + Place as they work on Envision phase 3 code amendments downtown. This was approved.
Next, we considered authorization of road improvements participation for Smith’s. The store is looking to build just north of the current location. This will provide a large boost in sales tax revenue to Heber City, but Smith’s is asking that the city participate in some of the road improvements to help the process move along more quickly. In the original MOU, it was agreed upon that the developer would pay for all improvements. However, there have been changes to the original agreement from the city. These largely pertain to the moving of a detention pond, the upsizing of the road, and other issues that could possibly justify the city’s participation in funding the cost of infrastructure. We approved staff authorization to negotiate on our behalf and they will bring a deal back to us to approve or deny.
Lastly, there was a proposed amendment brought forward from the Highlands MDA. This is a property in the North Village Overlay Zone (NVOZ). They were adjusting the plan by lowering the number of apartment complexes and increasing the number of townhomes in the project. This is in line with what the council has been discussing with other developments seeking approval, and we were able to approve it as an administrative amendment.
We closed the open meeting and went into a closed executive session for the rest of the evening.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council