November 7, 2023 - Council Meeting
Friends and Neighbors,
For all those who attended Heber Halloween Fest, thank you for making it such a huge success! I know I speak for all of us when I say it was great to get out into the community and spend time with one another.
Our next big event is the Heber City Tree Lighting & Old-Fashioned Christmas on December 1 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. This is another great opportunity for us to join in fellowship, and it’s completely free and fun for all ages. You can expect a visit from Santa Clause, live reindeer, holiday entertainment, hot cocoa, cookie decorating, food trucks, sponsor booths, and many other holiday activities. The culminating tree lighting will be at 8:15 p.m.
Although our most recent Heber City Council meeting was relatively short, we covered some very important issues—and we even enjoyed a memorable moment together during the swearing-in of our newest police officer, Ty Cummings. I am proud to welcome him to the team, and I am grateful for his service to our community.
This is a tricky topic, but it’s one that I feel passionate about. I once lived in a residential neighborhood where there was a nightly rental just two doors down. It was a large home, and we often saw 10 cars at the home on the weekend. As you can imagine, this was disrupting to our daily lives.
I’m torn on this subject because I don’t want to legislate in a punitive manner. It’s important for individuals to have the freedom to use their property in the manner they see fit, but at the end of the day, rules and laws are meant to protect all residents.
The current code allows for short-term rentals in all parts of town, and a home can be rented by up to 12 individuals (1 person per 200 square feet of dwelling space) and 4 cars. So, we already have a law on the books with reasonable restrictions to ensure neighbors aren’t affected in a negative way. Additionally, those who have a nightly rental must be licensed with Heber City and are required to pay property taxes on the rental business.
Our debate as a Council was surrounding the possibility of updating that code to be stricter. Here are some questions we want to consider:
Do we allow nightly rentals or short-term rentals in Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)?
Do we have specific "zones" in the city where rentals are available?
Do we let the free market decide under our current code, which allows short-term rentals in every area of the city, and they just need to follow the laws already in place?
It’s worth mentioning that the State Legislature recently passed a law making it easier for ADUs to be built, stating that it’s a way to increase affordable housing. But Summit County just banned short-term rentals in ADUs, setting a 30-night minimum rental period for these types of properties.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, especially if you feel like you have been personally affected by a nightly rental in your neighborhood.
I am leaning toward designating zones in the city where nightly rentals are not allowed, including areas that have self-help homes or multi-family units that were originally built as "low-income housing" or where the original purchaser had to qualify under a specific program for access to the housing. I see ADUs as providing affordability as a short-term rental and vice versa. Perhaps the homeowner wants to build an accessory dwelling to help them to pay for their taxes and mortgage? I would want to allow for ADUs and only say that an ADU can be a short-term rental if the main unit is owner occupied and not also a rental.
I'm sure we have not heard the last of this subject.
College Downs Annexation Request
The only controversial subject of the night was an annexation request from the College Downs development in the North Village area. This is basically the last piece of property to annex along Highway 40, so that our city has contiguous connectivity throughout the North Village area.
This was very important for the master transportation plan and storm water master plan, and it’s a parcel that has an entitlement with the County for more units than what the City was going to approve.
The density of the project was a problem for Ryan and Yvonne, and I completely respect their opinions, but I disagree in this case. Why? Because the parcel had already been approved for more density—and we really need it to be within the city.
In the end, it did pass with a vote of 3-2.
We discussed Muirfield Park and the planned development there, including a pavilion, community garden, and a small orchard.
The plans really are looking beautiful—and I like that we are thinking big on this project. But a few of the price tags seem steep, particularly the cost to build a pavilion.
I love the idea of the community teaching gardens and potential greenhouses that could be used year-round for local produce. It’s cohesive with the rural history of this beautiful valley, and I am looking forward to working together to bring these plans to life for the right price.
The Highlands development, which is part of the North Village, came to us for an amendment to their Master Development Agreement pertaining to engineering and design of the homes they are looking to build. The North Village has very strict guidelines on design, and I really want to stick to anything that is cosmetic or aesthetic to ensure it is high-quality and pleasant to look at.
I’m fine if we need to adjust engineering based on slope or extenuating circumstances. We all benefit in the community if developers are willing to create a quality product.
As part of the development update, we were informed that permit applications are down, signaling a slowdown in development. But we were also shown drawings of the new addition that is coming to the Timberline Ace Hardware store, and it looks wonderful. I love seeing a local business thriving the way Timberline Ace Hardware is!
Road Construction Season
We are now at the end of the road construction season because it’s getting too cold to put down asphalt.
The Heritage Farms Parkway is very close to being complete, but unfortunately, it will not get done this season. Part A is complete and is currently getting tied in at the roundabout at 550 East. Even though it is past time to lay asphalt, the city will finish this roundabout to enable access for the winter, knowing that we will need to replace the surface soon. Section A will remain closed until the coming months when the light has been constructed on Highway 40 by UDOT to allow for safe access. Section B from 550 East to Mill Road will not yet be completed due to construction delays. Section C between Stone Creek and Red Ledges has been paved and should be open in a few weeks.
The Heber City Water and Sewer Replacement Project has been paused for the winter, except for a section of road at 300 West on the north of Center Street. Construction on this portion will continue throughout the winter to keep the crews on for the ramp-up again next summer.
This is the largest project we have ever seen in Heber, and so far, it has been a great success. If you would like to see a wooden water pipe, head over to the Public Works building and they have it on display. It’s pretty cool!
Airport Master Plan
There was an action item on the agenda to implement the term of the pre-development agreement with OK3 Air at the airport, continue with the Airport Master Plan, and rescind the prior moratorium.
In 2019, all development at the airport was halted so that we could work through the lawsuit and diligently explore options for the Airport Master Plan. Now that the master plan has been accepted by the FAA, and we have settled the lawsuit, we are ready for development to resume.
OK3 Air has been waiting for several years to build a new hangar, which will hopefully get the green light soon. There are two sections of the airport where development is still on hold pending an environmental study: the south and north FBO campuses. That is only until a final determination is reached regarding the new FBO location.
It’s very important to note that this passed with a 5-0 vote.
We are getting closer to finalizing the design for a new bandshell that will be situated at the City Park on the border with 200 North facing south. This will be constructed next summer and must be completed by October of next year. I’m confident that this It is going to be a wonderful amenity.
I brought forth an item pertaining to deer in the city. I called the DNR to ask if they had any programs to help with "city deer,” which are classified as deer that do not go back into the high country after the winter months are over. They live in town year-round, and the population continues to grow. They eat flowers, shrubs, and trees—and could be seen as a pest. To be clear, we are not talking about the deer that follow normal migration patterns.
The DNR does have a program that traps and euthanizes city deer in August. Again, it would only include those deer that have decided to live in town all year long. Fortunately, that meat is processed and distributed through the local food bank. And as far as I know, the local food bank is always looking for sources of protein.
We decided it may be prudent to have the DNR attend a future meeting to discuss the topic further. Read more about our discussion in this KPCW article.
As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank each of you for your support since I joined the City Council. It is an honor to work toward the betterment of Heber City, and it wouldn’t be possible without your encouragement. It is difficult when we are growing so fast, but I have no doubt that we are meeting the challenge.
D. Scott Phillips