May 2, 2023 - Council Meeting
We kicked off the month of May with another busy meeting! It started with a closed executive session. Unfortunately, we had to push the entire work agenda to the next meeting to address the matter at hand.
I had the opportunity to present the “thought” for the evening, so I discussed the gift of honest feedback. The best leaders are the ones who are introspective and open to discussion. These individuals are willing to listen, receive information, and even change their opinions based on new details. I appreciate my fellow councilmembers and their willingness to give and take, honestly discussing the important issues in these public meetings.
There is power in being able to disagree without being disagreeable.
Tree Subcommittee Appointment
Moving on to the consent agenda, we approved the previous meeting minutes and discussed the appointment of Wesley Crump to the tree subcommittee. Wesley, a horticultural expert at the UVU extension in Heber, is a great addition to the committee. His appointment was removed from the consent agenda only because we wanted to gather more information about his residency and job details before finalizing his appointment. While residency isn't a requirement, it's always beneficial to have these committees attended by Heber City residents with a vested interest.
Public Works Week & National Day of Prayer
Moving into our general business items, Mayor Franco had a few proclamations to present.
The first was to proclaim May 21-27 as Public Works Week. Words cannot adequately express how thankful we are for the incredible work of this dedicated team. They work hard every day to ensure that our basic needs, such as clean water, efficient waste management, and clear roads, are met seamlessly. On behalf of our community, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Public Works Department for all they do.
The second proclamation was to designate May 4 as a Day of Prayer. There was a public prayer meeting that evening in Main Street Park to commemorate the national event. It was a wonderful chance to gather and seek strength through the power of prayer.
Muirfield Park Community Garden
It’s always a pleasure to hear innovative ideas that have the potential to benefit our community. We received a proposal for a community garden and orchard in Muirfield Park, which will not only provide valuable community education, but also a space where those who help with maintenance can harvest the literal fruits of their labor. This will be a great way to foster connection and bring people together. I’m a big fan of this idea, and I extend my sincerest gratitude to Mike Peterson and Russ Olsen of the Heber Valley Self-Reliance Group for bringing it forward.
Monthly Current Development Report
Although 2023 is lagging in comparison to development applications over the last two years, there are plenty of proposals coming forward. Here’s an update on some of the applications moving through the planning department:
A mixed-use development known as Old Mill Village Commercial, located at the corner of Sawmill Boulevard and Highway 40. The concept includes commercial units with a space for residential units on the top floor.
The next proposal is the American Eagle Batch Plant. This is a small batch concrete plant that would be built on the property at Highway 189 and Industrial Parkway. This property was annexed to the city several years ago as an industrial property, and this proposal fits with the current zoning and use.
The Loft on 6th is still in the very early concept phase, but it would be a complete redevelopment of the lot west of McDonald’s.
The Bennet 4-Plex located at 100 W. and near 200 S. (across the street from the city park). This project is moving forward and will be a great addition to the community.
The Sawmill Development brought forward a preliminary plat for phase 9. There was a proposal for a small subdivision consisting of two lots at the corner of Mill Road and 900 North.
There is a request to vacate an unused portion of Mill Road on the southwest side of Highway 40. The neighboring property owner is interested in entering discussions with the city pertaining to this piece.
As always, there are many requests, and I am sure there will be more to come as we enter prime construction season.
I have been fascinated by how much authority the State legislature holds over the laws that impact our municipalities. I can’t even begin to process or digest all the changes, but I have noticed a recurring theme that emphasizes growth and development. All I can say is that we will continue to follow the laws responsibly with a well-crafted plan in place. Despite the challenges, we’re committed to navigating these topics in a way that benefits our residents.
Chain of Command
Our first action item was seemingly controversial, even if that wasn’t the intent.
Last August, we received training from the Utah Local Governments Trust. This is the organization that provides insurance for the city during legal disputes. They advised us to clarify the scope of responsibility for the city manager regarding supervision of appointed employees. Essentially, this would make the city manager the chief administrative officer, to whom all employees would report. I brought forward an item to make that clarification, but the vote on the original motion was 4-2 and failed. The mayor was able to vote and did not want to lose the authority to consent to the police officers that the chief wants to hire.
This is completely unnecessary. The chief should be qualified to hire his or her own people without consent from the mayor. A second motion was brought forward that didn’t remove the power of the mayor—but added power of the mayor where he/she would be able to vote in the event of disciplinary action that the council needs to take with regards to the chief of police. This motion passed 6-0.
In conclusion, we clarified that the city manager has stewardship over all employees, and the appointed employees also report directly to the city manager. If there is an issue with any of these individuals that arises to the level of a complaint, the case needs to come to the full council. Additionally, any appointed official can come to the council when they feel it is necessary. This is an enhancement to our code and regulations.
Wasatch County Children’s Justice Center
The Wasatch County Children’s Justice center has been an integral part of our community for the last 20 years. They come before us every year and ask for a donation to help them provide their vital services—and we are happy to help in this effort.
That said, there was an important question brought forth: Since we are all citizens of the county, and the services provided by this center are for all county residents, why is this not funded by the county budget? I agree that this is an important question to address.
It would be great to know that a program like this one is fully funded every year without visiting each community to ask for a donation. There is also quite a bit of funding that comes from the State.
Budget season means more meetings to discuss our finances and finalize a plan. We will have two work sessions on May 15 and May 16 to prepare a budget for the public hearing on June 6. There are a lot of construction and improvement projects underway this year, and we also need more employees to meet the needs of our growing community. It’s going to be a busy few weeks as we get the budget prepared for final approval. Thank you to our new finance director, Sara Nagel, for all her hard work.
Tree Ordinance Approval
A proposed tree ordinance was brought forward, and while there seems to be general support, we simply want to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the public being able to plant the types of trees they deem appropriate for their property. The proposed ordinance aims to provide professional guidance on which trees are best suited for our climate, without increasing enforcement efforts. This ordinance was pushed to another meeting as we asked for some clarification and a few changes before proceeding.
The city is considering entering land leases with the homeowners whose properties are directly north of the new Heritage Farms Parkway. We have given a little more of a buffer between those homes and the road that is now being constructed. The property would be leased for a very small amount of money (if any), and the homeowners would enjoy use of the property, as well as upkeep. There are some easements that go through that property, so there may be some rules pertaining to fences, trees, and other structures. We pushed this item to another meeting to get more information on a few points before making a final determination.
Central Heber Replacements Project
Last year, the City Council directed the start of phase 1 of the Central Heber Replacements Project, which includes updates to water, sewer, and pressurized irrigation systems. We entered into agreements with BHI for CM/GC services, a construction contract, and GMP for Phase 1A—and for material procurement services. Current plans are to phase the construction of the project over 3-4 construction seasons. Phase 1A was started in 2022, Phase 1B is beginning now, and Phase 1C is anticipated to commence in 2024. The same general agreement and format as was entered into last year is proposed for Phase 1B, but the amount is $12,655,014.11. The council gave direction to proceed to procure the services of BHI for the stated amount and proceed with Phase 1B.
Finally, we discussed a workforce housing project on the open Duke property north of 500 North. The project would offer deed-restricted, owner-occupied housing opportunities for Heber City, school district, and county employees, with space for a park and open area. While no decisions were made at the meeting, there was general optimism about moving forward with the idea.
Some expressed opposition, suggesting the area should be reserved for ball fields and athletic facilities. However, the need for a balance between recreation and housing was emphasized. In my opinion, we don’t need to be a recreation department. Those items are already covered by the County. We do need parks, but not unlimited parks. There should be a balance.
Kind regards, D. Scott Phillips Heber City Council