Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you to everyone who attended Snowfest at the Heber Valley Airport! There was skijoring, sledding, hot air balloons, and so much more. These are the types of events that underscore what an incredible community we have. It’s a blessing to watch families come together and enjoy the beauty of Heber!
This month’s newsletter is a combination of both January meetings. Our first kicked off the new year with a swearing-in ceremony for two newly elected City Council members and one re-elected Council member. I look forward to working with Mike, Sid, and Aaron as we plan for the future of Heber City and enter the implementation phase of our transformation of Main Street and the surrounding downtown area.
As we kick off another promising year, I’m excited about the opportunities that await us in Heber City. I know we can build on the momentum of community engagement and cooperation to continue tackling challenges with ease. Here's to the possibilities that lie ahead in 2024!
Planning Commission & Board Appointments
Mayor Franco attempted to appoint Del Barney, spouse of councilmember Yvonne Barney, to the Planning Commission. Per the code, she has the authority to make these appointments with the advice and consent of the Council. Mayor Franco receives the applications, interviews candidates, and brings recommendations to the Council in the public meeting to vote “yes” or “no.”
This is her prerogative, and how the process is run is up to her discretion. However, a gentleman who applied for the position showed up to the meeting and was not on the appointment list, and no one on the Council had any knowledge that he applied for the position. He spoke during the public comment period to ask why his extensive qualifications were not considered more seriously for one of the positions. Mayor Franco’s response was that she was seeking more diversity on the Planning Commission, adding that he was too much like others already serving.
In the instance of Del Barney, Council Members Johnston and Ostergaard both expressed admiration for Del and his abilities, but discomfort about having the spouse of a sitting City Council member on the Planning Commission. The Mayor asked for a motion, but was met with silence, so she withdrew all names. She said she will reconsider and bring the nominations back at a different time. I hope we can facilitate a more transparent process that allows all applicants to feel confident in the final selection.
As a member of the City Council, I also sit on other boards, including the Airport Advisory Board, Heber Valley Tourism & Economic Development Board, and the Personnel Committee. Mayor Franco, with the advice and consent of the Council, appoints Council members to the various boards, so we also took some time to approve board appointments with our newly elected Council members.
The Highlands, a development near the UVU campus, has been running into unique situations with the topography in that area. They approached the Council to ask for small changes to the MDA that would allow for the best possible use of the development. We discussed the issue in the work meeting and approved the changes during the action item section of the agenda.
We heard a wonderful presentation from the Parks, Open Space, Trails, and Trees Committee (POSTT). Scott House and Ashley Farrell have done an amazing job steering the decisions of the City in their area of focus. I look forward to another year of progress, especially when it comes to trails!
We heard Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) Analysis and board reports from several Heber City departments, including Public Works, the Police Department, Engineering, Human Resources, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Finance Department, and many more. There was a lot of great information on how
we can improve moving forward. All the staff that presented are so capable in their roles and true assets to Heber City.
My number one takeaway from these presentations was that we really need to take care of our human capital. This refers to the knowledge, skills, and experience our City employees bring to the table. The largest threats seem to deal with the people who keep Heber running day in and day out, and I really want to ensure we are appropriately staffed in all areas to meet the needs of our growing community.
Airport T-Hangar Development
The Council approved the agreements for a T-hangar development at the airport. This development was on hold for the last few years due to the Airport Master Planning process. This development would add much-needed space for general aviation aircraft, as there is currently a lengthy waitlist of individuals seeking hangar space in Heber.
We heard from a landowner looking to build eight townhomes, which he deemed "attainable housing.”
I feel that densifying the downtown core blocks really is the right way to redevelop an area that has aged poorly. Dilapidated properties are the norm more than the exception in this area, and the previous home on the property had to be demolished and removed because it was in such bad shape.
The well-thought-out ideas this landowner brought forward are tasteful and would allow for redevelopment of the property in a way that adds much-needed townhomes for single families.
The developer also agreed that two of the units could be deed-restricted for sale to City, County, or school district employees, which is a huge priority for me as we try to meet our staffing needs in the future. The Council agreed to bring this back at another time for an official development agreement and vote.
22 South 100 West Development
Another potential development agreement was brought forward by Clayton Vance for the property on 22 South 100 West.
This opened a whole discussion on the design of streets in our downtown core. Do we need the wide streets in a walkable downtown? I would argue that we need narrower streets in the core to slow traffic and encourage a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
The Council loved the renderings and the ideas that were brought forward, and now we’ll need to decide on right-of-way and utilities to allow for this project and others like it in the future.
D. Scott Phillips