Council Meeting - July 5, 2022
Our city council meeting on Tuesday, July 5th started with a joint work meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission. This was to discuss growth, sensitive lands, Envision Downtown, building height, and architectural standards. We typically don’t communicate directly with the Planning Commission, so this proved to be very productive. Having everyone there in a quorum to discuss these important issues was helpful for all parties.
First, building height in Heber City was a crucial topic to consider. In order to keep our small town feel, it’s best to maintain three stories as the maximum height for a building. There is currently one project on Main Street anticipating five stories, and another application submitted before the current referendum on building height also has a five story component. I wholeheartedly support development and an increase in density, but we have to stay true to our small town roots.
Following this discussion, we had to talk about sensitive lands. The city currently has rules in place to protect sensitive lands, but some feel the current standards are not adequate for future development. I’m happy to review the current standards and make changes if it will truly improve the quality of our sensitive lands without burdening landowners. When it comes to politics, I’m always disappointed to see that people rarely come forward stating exactly what they’re trying to accomplish. My goal is to hear from more of our constituents who support this measure. It’s important to me that we fully understand their reasoning.
We kicked off our regular meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and a Prayer/Thought by Councilmember Stack. He spoke about our republic and how precious it truly is. In the spirit of the Fourth of July holiday, remembering what we have in our constitutional-based republic is very close to my heart.
Two out of the three items on the consent agenda were approved, including the minutes from our meeting on June 21st. This also included an approval of four contracts for public works equipment. There was another item pertaining to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Community Alliance for Main Street (CAMS), but it was tabled to a future meeting. This will give us some time to acquire more information before we approve the MOU.
Moving into our public comment period, most of the conversation was by individuals representing the LGBTQ community. They discussed their thoughts on the Unity banners that were displayed on Main Street during the first few weeks of June. For those who may have missed it, here’s a recap of what happened over the last few months. We received a request to have pride banners placed on Main Street in support of the grand opening of the Encircle House in Heber City. In light of this request, the City Council decided to use a banner to bring the community together with the theme of Unity. We also designated the first two weeks of June as service weeks. The city placed dumpsters at every city park for free public use, which proved to be a very successful program. In fact, those dumpsters had to be emptied several times to meet demand. Unfortunately, these efforts to bring the community together were not what the LGBTQ community had in mind. They stated that they felt abandoned by the City Council. I very much appreciate their comments and reflections. We all look forward to working together in the future to make this a welcoming community for all individuals.
Moving along, the Heber Leadership Academy spoke to us about the water feature being built just outside the city offices. I made the motion to support this effort with a commitment of $56,000. If the fundraising efforts go above and beyond what is expected, the city will welcome some of these funds to be paid back. We want to make sure the entire community is in favor of the project. Our hope is that citizens will come forward and donate on their own accord to help complete the effort.
In other news, the Back 40 Ranch House Grill just north of Heber City has had many issues with a failing septic system from 1940. They put in a request to attach a small sewer line to the Heber City sewer system across Highway 40. Because the restaurant is in the county, there are concerns that this connection could lead to other similar requests. This would inevitably prompt an increase in development in the North Fields. The city will work with the JSSD, as well as the county, to find a solution without opening the door to more development along that corridor on the west side.
During our action items, we approved an ordinance adopting amendments to residential and agricultural zones and adopting site plan submittal requirements. In addition, two projects seeking future annexation into the North Village presented in front of the council. Neither of these presentations required a vote, they were simply designed to get a feeling for where the council stands. The first was regarding Finch Creek Townhomes. The council had some concerns with both parking and the general layout of this proposal. The plan is for Finch Creek to come back with revisions in a future meeting. Next up, the North Village Views presented several ideas, and it looks like we have finally come to an agreement. The council was favorable to the design presented and the next piece will be a development agreement on which we will be able to vote.
We also discussed the establishment of a rural planning organization with Summit County and Park City. This would help us facilitate talks regarding transportation from Wasatch County to Summit County. The council was in favor of this idea and it looks like we will be proceeding to the next step.
The council also approved a code amendment that will permit model homes, sales offices, and open space amenities to begin construction prior to the completion of all required subdivision improvements. This is specific to situations where there is a private road on the front of the lot’s public street or along the rear of that same lot (also known as a double frontage lot). This will help future developments have model homes that allow for presenting to the public earlier in the building process.
The last item on the agenda was removed by the mayor. This was to consider approval of RFQ (request for qualifications) for city attorney services and to establish a process for selection. It’s still unclear why the mayor chose to remove this. It seems we are in support of moving forward with the plan outlined by our city manager to find the right partner to provide third-party attorney services to the city. Unfortunately, this is just another display of the mayor trying to assert power over a process that is not broken.
Nonetheless, we concluded our meeting with a closed executive session to discuss personnel. Overall, I would say it was a productive meeting. I look forward to continuing some of these conversations the next time we’re all together.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council