Council Meeting - September 20, 2022
While the meeting on September 20th may have been very long, I’m pleased to say it was also productive.
The work meeting started with a discussion of proposed amendments to commercial zones C-2, C-3, and C-4 to be consolidated into chapter 18.28. Plus, a review of building height in commercial zones. For me personally, building height is only a concern in the central downtown blocks of Heber City and the surrounding historic tabernacle/city building area. Because we’re hoping to divert Highway 40 from Main Street and reclaim our downtown area, this is an area of specific interest. From the blocks of 200 S. to 200 N., and just one block east and west, it would be nice to limit the building height to three stories. My hope is that this will help us maintain a small town atmosphere. I'm not opposed to buildings up to five stories high in areas where we already have grocery stores, auto dealerships, and commercial buildings.
We reviewed a proposal passed by the planning commission, which approved further recommendations that the height in all zones be limited to five stories with the following conditions:
The application includes at least 10% affordable housing
It is a mixed-use building or office building
The building design includes at least 10 feet between the third and fourth stories
Councilwoman Rachel Kahler suggested that all three of these conditions should be met in order to secure approval for a five-story building. We also discussed the recommendation that all five-story buildings must have mixed uses, including commercial, office, and residential. So, although not finalized, we are coming closer to an agreement on this meaningful issue.
Moving along, we considered the annexation of 37 acres along Highway 32 directly north of the Holmes Homes subdivision and Woodsmere Road. This property is currently designated for agricultural purposes, and while there was representation of a potential idea for the property, there is no finalized design. This is a piece of property with a pretty steep slope, which will make it difficult to build anything substantial. Overall, I got the feeling that the council wasn’t favorable towards the annexation. It has a permitted density of one unit per 20 acres, and for now, it looks like it will continue to be that way.
Next order of business: We have an excellent local business in our community called RC Ornamental construction. They are currently building near Burton Lumber, and under the current code, they are required to maintain certain design standards on all sides of the building. This business is in the industry of beautifying buildings. They will do something great with the design in order to help their business succeed. They are not looking to build something unappealing to save costs, they are simply requesting leniency in the building standards pertaining to their specific property and circumstances. The Burton Lumber building next to them is nothing special, in fact, it’s very ordinary. RC Ornamental is asking if their side can also be “ordinary.” We found this to be a reasonable request and asked for it to be an action item on a later date.
The consent agenda for the evening contained the approval of the September 6th minutes, approval of resolution 2022-24 for the moderate income housing report, and approval of ordinance 2022-25, which updates the chain of command for appointed positions. Councilwoman Kahler asked that the chain of command update be tabled because it pertained to discussions scheduled for our closed session later in the evening. I personally voted “no” on tabling the item as I was willing to make a separate motion pertaining to the item in relation to the personnel discussion. Updating the chain of command is a critical issue. I am confident that we have the best of the best working here in Heber City. There should not be confusion regarding who is in charge and to whom our wonderful employees report. At no time should the mayor or any councilmember give individual direction to employees of the city. We may only give direction to the city manager, who will then direct the employees. I can't imagine what it would feel like to work for six bosses who are all telling you different things based on their own political agendas. This is why we have a city manager who is responsible for taking politics out of the management of our city. I was a little disappointed that we were not able to come to a conclusion on this issue during this particular meeting, but it will come forward on another agenda item.
In regard to general business items, we received yet another update on the central Heber water and sewer line project. Again, the work is moving a little slower than anticipated. Fortunately, crews will be working into the winter to complete the project as soon as possible. We understand that tearing up the road in front of homes has been disruptive to families and we appreciate their patience with everyone involved in this critical project. This is the largest project the city has ever taken on, and once it is complete, it will be incredibly beneficial to everyone. Our infrastructure is aging and inadequate, which is why there will be some growing pains as we continue to make progress.
With regard to action items, we reviewed the proposed administrative amendment to the Highlands master development agreement. The city entered into a master development agreement with the Highlands development near the UVU campus on the north side of town a few months ago. There was a change from UDOT on the distance the roundabout needed to be from the highway, which prompted changes to their layout. They also had a different idea for stormwater management, which they proposed in this meeting. These changes can be implemented in one of two ways, an administrative amendment or a modification of movement. Staff is recommending that we process this as an administrative amendment. I made the motion that we proceed with the amendment as an administrative amendment and it passed 4-1.
We have been meeting for several months with what we call the North Village annexation. Because there are four separate developers in this group, we had indicated that it would be best to have a separate MDA for each development. We are also waiting to complete the transportation and stormwater master plan completion before annexing these properties. This was a useful time to provide input on drafting the MDA for the part of this that is referred to as the North Village Views.
Next item on the agenda was pertaining to the Heber City Stormwater Design Manual, presented by our city engineer, Russell Funk. Russ has put so much time and effort into building this manual. I know that we will need to make small changes going forward, but there were developers in house that said they really agree with most of what is in this manual. There was only disagreement over the 100-foot buffer zone for the drainages, which many of us believe should be determined by a drainage professional. Unfortunately, I don't think it's as easy as having a blanket buffer zone for all drainages, especially in instances where water is flowing downhill. This design is not for standard everyday runoff, these systems are being designed to handle worst case scenarios. For example, if there was a fire up above the North Village area, and then a torrential downpour washed mud, branches, trees, and bushes down towards the homes, these standards would protect those homes from this type of event. There is no doubt that Russ and his team have done a great job putting this manual together over the past several months and I appreciate all of their input.
Next, the transportation plan was another important item on the agenda. As we continue to annex properties and approve density, there are traffic issues that will need to be dealt with. For example, there is a need for a main arterial road through the middle of the project, so that people can move from one side to the other. This transportation plan is important for developers who need to be able to move forward. Likewise, we passed and approved the North Village transportation and stormwater master plans as amendments to the Heber City capital facilities plan and Heber City general plan. This portion of our meeting took nearly two hours, but the discussion was incredibly helpful and informative.
Last, but not least, we had a discussion regarding Envision Center Heber and Steering Committee membership. We took a list of stakeholders in the downtown area, including property owners and business owners, to invite them to participate in this process. We are really looking for feedback on how to proceed with the downtown overlay zone. We would like the public to give us their opinions on how redevelopment in the downtown area should proceed. I’m very excited for the ideas that we will generate in this process. None of us have an agenda in this area, we simply hope the redevelopment downtown is beneficial to residents, neighbors, and visitors.
Finally, I want to talk about the Airport Master Plan meeting that took place on Thursday, September 22nd at Heber Valley Elementary School. The city has been working on this plan for nearly three years. Throughout this process, there has been a lot of discussion about certain topics, and I feel like it's important for residents to know the truth. I don’t want to rehash everything we’ve talked about over the last few years (including our obligations to the FAA and our responsibilities to have a functioning, safe airport). At this point, those topics are all well understood. The purpose of this meeting was to reveal certain alternatives. These include moving the runway to the north of Highway 189, keeping the runway in the current location, or moving the runway slightly over to the southwest. Out of all the alternatives, there is only one that was deemed viable by the experts working on the case. This alternative would move the runway slightly to the southwest on the current footprint of the airport.
It’s important to note that this does a couple of things. First, it adjusts the approach and landing area. Even if it’s just 1,000 feet, this makes a difference. It would increase the safety zone to the southwest further, reducing future developable property. There will be less room for hangars, as well as parking. We are trying to make the airport safe for the planes that are currently using the airport, not trying to grow the airport for future demand.
Mayor Heidi Franco asked the presenters several questions, which they all answered very well. One of those questions was if we could remain a B-II airport, but the experts stated that we are not currently a B-II airport anyway. What determines your airport designation is not the design of the airport. The determination of that designation is whether there are 500 or more landings at the airport in a given year. In Heber City, that would put us as a C-II airport. We are now a noncompliant C-II airport.
Now, can we stay with our current airport layout as a C-II airport? The answer to that is yes, but will the FAA continue to financially support the airport? No. Through the master planning process, we have achieved a viable option to upgrade our facilities to be a compliant C-II airport. Under those findings, the FAA would expect that we partner with them to upgrade our facilities.
I understand that this topic is very emotional for many of our neighbors. Some residents are upset about jets taking off at all hours of the day and night over their homes, and I truly want to make sure that they are being heard. I also hope that those individuals are hearing us as we continue to act in the best interest of every citizen in Heber Valley.
Kind regards, D. Scott Phillips Heber City Council