Our meeting on September 6, 2022 started with a closed executive session to discuss legal and personnel issues. After this, the work meeting got underway with a discussion about building heights in the downtown commercial zones. One recurring sentiment I hear among constituents is a desire to preserve the small town feel of Heber City. Continuing growth all around us makes this difficult. However, I think we have a unique opportunity on Main Street. We should preserve the historical nature of the buildings and also keep them from getting too high. I would love to hear more comments from the public regarding this specific issue. My vision is to keep buildings restricted to three stories in the main blocks of downtown (from 200 South to 200 North), while allowing for taller buildings in areas already populated with hardware stores, grocery stores, dealerships, etc.
Preserving a small town feel in that core center of Heber City is very important to me, but I would truly like to hear from you. Please feel free to send me an email with your comments, concerns, and thoughts. My door is always open!
After training from the State Trust in our last meeting, I brought forward an item to discuss the chain of command for appointed positions.To be honest, our current code is confusing. These appointed positions are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council, but who do they report to? This includes critical positions, such as the city attorney and police chief. It simply doesn’t make sense for a mayor who is elected and has a political agenda to manage any director in Heber City without the full support of the council. This is why we have a city manager. The city manager should be bringing issues to the council for discussion, but we should avoid any attempt to manage them or their departments. Overall, the council agreed that this should be an action item on a future agenda. Our goal is to clarify our current code by making it clear that the city manager is the chief executive officer of Heber City.
Shortly after this, the official meeting began with a consent agenda, including the following topics:
Approval of the 8/16/22 meeting minutes
Approval of $7,500 to support the countywide RAP (Recreation, Arts, and Parks) Tax initiative
Approval to adopt the Tree Management Plan for Heber City
In regard to the RAP Tax, these funds will be used to educate the public about the many benefits of this tax. Concerning the Tree Management Plan, there was a helpful discussion about the opportunities this will lead to. Heber City will now be able to receive grants specifically dedicated to planting and caring for trees in our city. Councilmember Michael Johnston brought forward a concern about promoting the planting of trees that don’t do well in this climate. Councilmember Johnston is an avid gardener and has an amazing green thumb. This was an opportunity for him to provide unique information about the trees that do very well in Heber City versus those that do not (which were included in the master plan). It was beneficial to get his insight and resolve some of these concerns.
The only public comment of the evening was from Pam Patrick, a citizen of Wasatch County. She brought forward a book that she was willing to give to the council, asking that we put aside our differences and try to work together. I didn’t bring it up in the meeting, but we as a council have agreed (including the mayor) to attend Arbinger Institute training later this month. We are all preparing by reading a book titled “Leadership and Self-Deception.” I am genuinely enjoying the book and I feel confident that if we can live by the principles set forth in it, we will work better as a team to overcome our differences.
Moving on to our first action item, we had to consider approval of an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) for the Back 40 sewer connection. The only questions raised by the council were pertaining to language in the document that stated if the building was destroyed, the connection would no longer continue into the future. We were seeking clarification regarding natural disasters and other causes before approval.
Action item number two was concerning an ordinance to amend the Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan. We updated the acronym of the Open Space, Trails and Trees from “OSTPT” to “POSTT.” Unfortunately, this discussion went quite a bit longer than it should have, but we’re all very excited about the master plan. The individuals currently serving on the board are proactive and doing fantastic work. We continue to take baby steps to pursue more connectivity by adding trails throughout our city. I currently live on Center Street and constantly see joggers, walkers, and bikers pass by my driveway on the narrow sidewalk. I wish we had a trail on Center Street, but I believe one will come sooner rather than later as we all work together on this plan. The name change was approved.
Next, we had a discussion regarding the Fitzgerald property annexation north of town. The applicant for the annexation is asking that it be incorporated into the Sorenson Master Development Agreement (MDA). The city is asking for $2,500 per unit for an Open Space Fund to help preserve the north fields. The Sorenson Master Development Agreement does not have this particular contingency. Most of the discussion was positive until we asked if they would be open to participating in the $2,500 per unit preservation fee. We would like to see this preservation fee as a part of each annexation going forward in the North Village. Regarding the presentation, the overall feeling was positive and the area they’re looking to incorporate will be attractive.
As you may remember, the council recently amended the sign ordinance. Sometimes these cases result in information that prompts us to reconsider or make changes. It has been brought to our attention that the wall sign standards need to be clarified. If a business has more than one sign on the front of the building, for example, manufacturers that have their name and logo, is the city going to stick to two signs on a building wall? Or will the city say this can’t be placed there? The result could be confusing. The second item on the sign ordinance related directly to the park near Red Ledges. The city and Red Ledges originally explored a low-height sign supported by poles. However, the ordinance now requires a monument sign that has no visible support. There is appetite on the council to entertain both of these potential changes.
We also approved a resolution amending the 2022-2023 budget to purchase seven city fleet vehicles. These vehicles are sorely needed to help us maintain our city as we continue to experience significant growth.
Another item up for consideration pertained to updating the Moderate Income Housing Plan. This plan must be submitted to the state by October 1, 2022. It was interesting to read the median household values from 2018 to 2020, which do not reflect the current median house value in the valley. The median income has also increased over that two-year period and excess supply dropped dramatically. We approved the ordinance.
We also approved a resolution to amend the consolidated fee schedule, updating fees for Public Works, culinary water, waste water, and the Planning Department. The consolidated fee schedule is updated every year, along with the budget. This is a regular and normal occurrence, but we had some outstanding issues to approve to ensure that the fee schedule fulfills its purpose.
Moving along, we approved an update to the city purchasing policy. Gift cards may only be purchased for individuals who volunteer for the city and must be approved by the city manager. Gift cards are to be gifted in limited circumstances and should not exceed $50 annually to any single individual. Gift cards can be considered taxable pay if given to a full-time employee. In addition, we clarified that a contract is required when a purchase exceeds $50,000 or more when it is not related to a public works project or public utilities equipment. A contract is required when a purchase exceeds $100,000 for a public works project or public utilities equipment. According to staff, some of the monitor limits or requirements for expenditures were also too low. All of these items were approved.
Lastly, we continue to consider the rules of order for our City Council meetings. We recently made a change that allows for public comment after the presenter has spoken and the council has deliberated. As we put this into practice, it did not seem appropriate. The proposed changes to move public comment to right after the presenter will allow the council to deliberate and make a motion at any time before moving forward to a vote without delay. Our main goal is to continue to have public input while making our meetings more efficient.
Overall, I believe this was a wonderful meeting. We were productive and collaborated well. I truly feel like we are headed in the right direction as we guide Heber City into the next 50 years.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council