Saturday, April 15, 2017

Murdock Connector: An Analysis of the 2017 Traffic Study

Another milestone was reached last month when a road study was completed on impact of constructing an East-West Connector. Below is a brief summary of the report, my analysis of the information provided, and suggestions on how you can impact the decision going forward. According to the study (click here to see the report).

Friday, April 7, 2017

14-Mar-2017: Joint Work Session with Planning Commission on R-1-30 Zone Use

R-1-30 and the Council a Brief Overview

Before I discuss the work session  I want to review the history of the lot sizes in Highland, then R-1-30 zone and its implementation.

Highland Lot Size Info

Lots sizes of developments approved since 2014. As a point of information the estimated density of all Open Space subdivisions (this includes park land and other open space) is ~1.6 lots/acre.

Zone Avg. Lot Size Median Lot Size Avg. Density
R-1-20 0.48 acres
20,835 sq. ft.
0.46 acres
20,167 sq. ft.
1.65 lots/acre
R-1-30 0.60 acres
25,941 sq. ft.
0.58 acres
25,132 sq. ft.
1.33 lots/acre


0.78 acres
34,491 sq. ft.
0.75 acres
32,756 sq. ft.
1.06 lots/acre

* All

0.47 acres
25,276 sq. ft.
0.58 acres
20,386 sq. ft.

* This lot size data was derived by using the lot sizes of all property using pressurized irrigation where the parcel was larger than 0.10 acres and smaller than 6 acres. The data represents ~95% of all property in Highland.

Timeline of R-1-30 Actions:

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Way of the Reformer – William George Jordan

“The Way of the Reformer” is one of my favorite essays by William George Jordan. In it he discusses the challenges faced by those who seek to make the world a better place. They are not always popular and on more than one occasion have given their lives for their cause. William Tyndale comes to mind. He  translated the Bible into English in the early 1500’s. His work so displeased the King and other prominent leaders that he ended up fleeing to Antwerp to continue his work. He was eventually captured, tried for heresy, and put to death. Below is a short video which summarizes William’s inspiring life work.

Jordan’s essay below is dedicated to those who, like Tyndale, labor to make the world a better place in the face of opposition.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

City Council 21-Feb-2017: Cemetery Fee Work Session, Staff Pay Grades, Public Info Plan for Roads, Water Conservation Plan

15 residents (9 scouts) were in attendance for the council meeting; none were at the cemetery work session. We again were able to accomplish a fair amount of work during the meetings Smile.

Cemetery Fee Work Session

2017-02-21 Cemetery Plot Price ComparisonThe cemetery work session was the 2nd one we’ve held to understand what we need to charge for cemetery plots so that we end up with a fund that will generate sufficient interest income to cover the cost of cemetery operations once all the plots are sold. Note, Tim Irwin brought this up as an issue we should work on last year.

Zion’s Bank was contracted to do an analysis of what what our options are. Matt Millis of Zion’s Bank reviewed a model which they developed to help us determine an answer to this question. We also needed to provide some guidance on three questions so that the analysis could proceed:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

City Council 7-Feb-2017: Wimbelton Trails, Library Report, Park Use Fees, Mid-Year Budget Adjustments, Highland Blvd & 11800 N Intersection Redesign

2017-02-07 Close to HomeWell over 50 residents attended the meeting.  Most were there for one of four items: the Library Strategic Plan Presentation, Wimbelton Trails, Roads, and the Highland Blvd / 11800 N Intersection.

Prior to the meeting we learned that the petition to dispose of the Wimbelton neighborhood option trails did not have sufficient signatures to meet the threshold required to have the council consider the request. A public hearing on the issue what not then required and so the item was removed from the agenda.

My understanding is that  those who wish to dispose of the trails argue that they are not well maintained by the city and although they are used, usage is not necessarily by those in the neighborhood and thus pose a potential safety hazard. A secondary issue is that many of those living in Open Space developments feel that the open space fee they pay is too high or not well used.

Those opposing the disposal of the trail believe the trails are well used and are a benefit to the community. They also point out that the trails provide a safer route to the local elementary school and Mitchell Hollow Park for children.

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES


  • A resident who recently moved to here commented that he was impressed with the city in general and particularly the library.

  • A group of residents who live on Stevens Lane let the council know that they want their road to be repaired earlier than the recommended 3 to 5 years listed in the recently completed road plan. Note, the mayor drove me through the road this week and there are a few spots where, in my view, work needs to be done, even if the entire road isn’t rebuilt in the near term.


  1. Blythe Shupe, library board chair, provided a brief overview of the library in terms of the goals they’ve had over the years and touched on their broad goals for the next 10 years as related to the library’s mission, values, and core competency statements. The presentation was excellent but to understand the contents of the strategic plan you will need to review it (presentation link, strategic plan link). The most impressive information for me was the change that has occurred within the last year. It is remarkable!

      2015 2016 % increase
    Volunteer Hours



    Items Added to Collection (Sep-Dec) 200/mo 475/mo 138%
    Reference Desk Questions (Aug-Dec) 100/mo 461/mo 361%
    Circulation Stats (all items)



    Programs (Jul-Dec)




    Below are the mission, values, and core competencies as outlined in the strategic plan:

    The mission of the Highland City Library includes the following goals:
    1. Provide residents with access to information that educates, inspires, and entertains;
    2. Involve the community through outreach programs to help residents understand the benefits of a community library; and
    3. Prepare for the future growth of a successful library.

    To realize our vision and fulfill our mission, the following ideals direct us in our service to the Highland community:
    1. High quality of service: dependable, reliable, and always there to help users meet their needs.
    2. Effective communication: clear, concise, collaborative, and ongoing.
    3. Welcoming environment: a comfortable place for learning, relaxation, and entertainment that is inviting to all.
    4. Responsive to user needs: flexible service that is sensitive to the needs of the user community.
    5. Competent staff: respectful, polite, relevant, effective, efficient, and professional.

    Core Competencies
    The value-added, core services and functions we offer the Highland community are:
    1. Training to create a professional staff which meets the unique and diverse needs of all Highland residents.
    2. Building and maintaining vital and interactive partnerships.
    3. Providing relevant informational, cultural, and entertaining programs for people of all ages and interests.
    4. Building and maintaining vital connections and close bonds to the user community to ensure an understanding of the breadth and depth of library services offered by the Library.
    5. Maintaining a pleasant physical environment to meet, be entertained, and seek relevant information.
    6. Providing up-to-date technology that meets the needs of the user community to use library programs, services, and resources.

Consent ITEMS

  1. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for the City Council Work Session – January10, 2017. Unanimously approved. Click here to see the minutes.

  2. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for the City Council Regular Session – January 10, 2017. Unanimously approved. Click here to see the minutes.

  3. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for the City Council Special Meeting – January 17, 2017. Unanimously approved. Click here to see the minutes.

  4. MOTION: Final Plat Approval for a One Lot Single Family Subdivision located at 4884 West 11000 North – Jared Peterson Home. Unanimously approved. Click here to review background info in the agenda.
    2017-02-07 Jared Peterson Final Plat

  5. MOTION: Ratifying the Mayors Appointment to the Planning Commission – Brittney Bills and David W. Harris. Approved unanimously. Click here to review background info in the agenda.

  6. MOTION: Ratifying the Mayors Re-Appointment to the North Point Solid Waste Special Service District - Councilmember Tim Irwin. Approved unanimously. Click here to review background info in the agenda.

  7. MOTION: Ratifying the Mayors Appointment to the North Utah County Aquifer Committee – Mayor Thompson with Todd Trane as Alternate. Approved unanimously. Click here to review background info in the agenda.

Action Items

  1. PUBLIC HEARING / RESOLUTION: Designation of Open Space Property Disposal - Wimbleton Subdivision Open Space. Pulled from the agenda due to insufficient signatures on petition. See my comments at the top of the post. Click here to view background info in the agenda.

  2. PUBLIC HEARING / RESOLUTION: Designation of Open Space Property Disposal - View Point Subdivision Open Space. Click here to view background info in the agenda. Two residents spoke to this issue one who was opposed to disposing of city owned property in general, had concerns about establishing a value, and didn’t want to set precedence and another who approved of this sale. With respect to establishing a price of open space land, staff and council members went through an exhaustive (and exhausting) process to establish a value 2 years ago when deciding whether or not to dispose of another piece of open space property. For me this was one of the easier decisions I’ve made. The property in question clearly benefits no one except the immediately adjacent owner. By disposing of it the city eliminates a liability and the adjacent owner gets a benefit. It is a win/win. It passed unanimously. The council voted unanimously to approve the disposal of this property.
    2017-02-07 Viewpoint Surplus

  3. PUBLIC HEARING / RESOLUTION: Mid-Year Budget Adjustments - 2016-2017 Fiscal Year Budget. Below are list of the major mid-year budget adjustments. The council unanimously approved the budget adjustments with the one change as noted. Click here to view background info in the agenda.

    Major Revenue Adjustments. All Funds

    • Delinquent Property Taxes, +$45K to $75K
    • Sales Taxes, +$30K to $2,020K
    • Phone Tax, -$8K to $142K
    • Bldg. Permits, -$40K to $460K
    • Gen. Fund Surplus, +187K to $407K
    • B&C Roads, +$30K to $630K
    Major Expense Adjustments
    • Economic Dev., +$19K to $20K
    • Engineering Sal., +$39.6K to $61.6K
    • Engineering Cons., -$60K to $140K
    • TSSD Collection Fee, +$100K to $1MM
    • Trans. From Gen. Fund, +211K to $631K
    • Parks Maintenance. Bldg., -$300K to $0 (the council asked that this be removed).
    • Storm Sewer, +32K to $42K
    • Original Revenue $8,728,060
    • New Revenue $9,020,620 (+$292,560)
    • Original Expense $8,741,678
    • New Expense $9,013,364 (+$270,691)
  4. PUBLIC HERAING / ORDINANCE: Amendment to Section 3-4704.1.d, Maximum Number of Lots - Town Center Overlay Zone. The Town Center overlay district was originally approved for 342 residential units. Toscana was consists of 144 units and Blackstone was approved for 85. Since the council has revised the Town Center Overlay and eliminated additional residential units the proposed amendment reduces the approved number of residential units to 229 (the number of existing units plus the number of currently approved units). There was no public comment. The council unanimously approved the amendment.  Click here to view background info in the agenda.

  5. ORDINANCE: Approval of Amendments to the Municipal Code Section 12.24 – City Parks and Cemetery. The proposed amendment defines the types of parks and the type of use  that can be scheduled for use by groups. Click here to view the exact code. This was unanimously approved by the council.

    RESOLUTION: Approval of a Field Use Fee Schedule. The council discussed the fee, asked staff to look at providing options for groups to provide service to mitigate the fee. The fee schedule was unanimously approved with a start date of July 1, 2017.

    Below is a table showing the impact of the approved fees to various organized sports groups compared to the original fee schedule discussed at the previous council meeting.
    2017-02-07 Fee Schedule Comparison

    Click here to view the field use policies and fees.

  6. MOTION: Approval of Road Design, Construction and Reduced Speed School Zone – Highland Blvd. & 11800 No. For the last couple of years residents have encouraged the city to make the Highland Blvd / 11800 N intersection safer as well as asked for an improved school crossing. A cross walk evaluation was conducted in September but the city was not able to obtain sufficient data to evaluate the issue. A residential survey was conducted afterwards and sufficient information was obtained to validate the need for a Reduced Speed School Zone. Ridgeline elementary agreed to add the crossing to its SNAP (Student Neighborhood Access Plan) which was the final hurdle to revise the intersection and add a crosswalk.  The proposed solution adds a school crossing while making the following changes to improve the overall safety of the intersection at an estimated cost of $45,000.

    • Add flashing school zone speed signs
    • Reduce the distance across the road that students will need to cross from 60’ to 46’ by adding curb extensions as shown below.
      2017-02-07 School Crossing Highland Blvd
    • This change will eliminate the  unofficial right turn lane on Highland Blvd that drivers use to enter 11800 N. Cars making a right turn from this “lane” create a blind spot for drivers turning onto Highland Blvd from 11800 N. as shown in the pictures below.
      2017-02-07 Obstructed View Highland Blvd
      Note, there may be an increased likelihood of rear end collisions on north bound traffic but there are always trade offs.

    Several residents commented during the discussion. One indicated that a better solution would be to simply add a 3-way light to the intersection. Another said that liability was a concern. The city engineer commented that a warrant study for a light was performed previously and the intersection failed to meet national standards for a light. If we put a light in and someone was injured then we would be more liable because we did not follow recognized national standards.

    Approved unanimously. Click here to view background info in the agenda.


  • Highland Blvd. Traffic Data – Justin Parduhn, Operations & Maintenance Director. We reviewed radar speed sign data collected on Highland Blvd for the last year. While speeding seems to be on a downward trend a majority of drivers are exceeding the limit by over 5 mph. Southbound speeding is more prevalent than Northbound as one might expect. The radar signs are not entirely accurate. They are impacted by wind and snow but it is nice to have data that can be used to spot trends. Below are the charts which were discussed.
    2017-02-07 Highland Blvd Southbound
    2017-02-07 Highland Blvd Southbound Summary
    2017-02-07 Highland Blvd Northbound
    2017-02-07 Highland Blvd Northbound Summary

    Click here to see the traffic speed/volume graphs for all radar signs (Highland Blvd, Country Club Lane, East Jerling).

  • Funding Option for Road Re-Construction – Nathan Crane, City Administrator. We reviewed the options available to increase funding for roads. The recently completed road study is currently being evaluated by city staff but it looks like we will need to increase road spending by about $1M per year. I don’t see that we have the ability to re-prioritize current spending to get anywhere close to this amount so a property tax increase or fee will be needed if we want to be in a position in the next 5 to 7 years where our all our roads are in good repair. According to the latest city survey (860 out of over 1,000 have been coded) 76% of residents believe the city should allocate more funds to roads while 67% would likely or very likely support raising taxes or fees to increase road funding.

    Below is a chart the shows the current projected costs by type for needed road work over the next 5 years. Note over the  last 5 years we have spent about $530,000 per year for this type of activity. Additionally we expect about a $100,000 increase per year due to last year’s state  gas tax increase.

    Click here to go to the Google spreadsheet which has additional data and charts in it. This is a working spreadsheet for me which means I may update it from time to time.

    Staff provided a rough time table of activities that the city could undertake to provide residents with information on the roads and how the council would like to proceed (click here to see the staff slides). Your feedback will be helpful. For those who would like to review the current and previous budgets to better inform their input click here to view a budget spreadsheet that includes charts and data summaries.

    Understanding our debt picture may also be helpful in formulating thoughts on how to fund roads. Here are some key data points:
    • Our current total debt is about $11.1M
    • We have three separate bonds to payoff; Pressurized Irrigation ($2.24M), Building Bond ($3.92M), and Parks Bond ($4.93M).
    • PI Bond payments are $427K per year and will end in 2022 (6 years). Note, the PI enterprise fund is responsible for this debt (your monthly PI bill) and is legally separate from the city’s general fund, from which road work is paid.
    • The Building and Park bonds are paid out of the city’s general fund which also funds the roads. These are scheduled to be paid off in 2027 (11 years). Our annual payments for these are about $980K. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

City Council 17-Jan-2017: Economic Development, Pressurized Irrigation, Park Use Policy and Fees

2017-01-17 Lone Peak LacrosseFour residents attended this meeting where we discussed economic development, pressurized irrigation and park usage fees. Those attending wanted  to share their views on the proposed park usage fees. The “final” proposal on park fees will be discussed and voted on at the next council meeting (Tuesday Feb 7). 

Fun Facts

The following charts on lots sizes in Highland was derived from PI billing data, a summary of which is also shown below. Since there are a few parcels of property in Highland that are not served by PI it is not entirely accurate but it does provide a good picture. Here a few interesting stats:

Friday, January 27, 2017

R-1-30 Rezone Referendum Update

On Thursday, January 26th  Highland received the county’s report on the referendum signatures. After reviewing the report our city recorder issued the final certification report which states the following: Of the 2,778 signatures submitted 2,404 were certified. This is 109 fewer signatures than the 2,513 which were required and there for the referendum will not be placed on the 2017 ballot.

2017-01-26 Referendum Chart

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

City Council 10-Jan-2017: Road Plan, Youth Council, R-1-30 Moratorium, Spring Road Projects,

If you support the construction of the Murdock Connector (an east-west road between Alpine Highway and North County Blvd) please indicate your support by signing an online petition (click here to sign). This petition will be shared with Utah State legislators as they will need pass a bill this year to allow the road to cross state owned property. Also, our new State Senator, Dan Hemmert, and State Representative, Mike Kennedy, both have short constituent surveys that include a question on this issue. Please let them know how you feel on this and other issues such as education, internet sales tax, medical marijuana …. Click on their respective pictures to complete their survey’s .

Dan Hemmert - 1 Mike Kennedy - 1
State Senator Dan Hemmert State Rep. Mike Kennedy

Now on the the meeting. It was a productive meeting with a good exchange of information. Two residents attended the Roads Work Session and over sixty were present for the Council Meeting. Most of the Council Meeting attendees were there to support the 2017 Highland City Youth Council members who were sworn in. It is great to see so much interest in local government.

Friday, January 6, 2017

City Council 6-Dec-2016: Cemetery Work Session, Murdock Connector Resolution, Open Space Maintenance Agreement

Sixteen residents and others attended the council meeting none were at the work session.

2016-12-06 Cemetery

Work Session: Cemetery perpetual Care fund

The Cemetery Fund currently has a balance of $10,000. Plot fees are presently being used to refund the city for the purchase of the cemetery land. The goal of a perpetual care fund would be to build up a balance that would generate enough interest to cover all or most of the cost of maintaining the cemetery. Matt Millis, Zion Bank, walked us through multiple scenarios for increasing the lot and burial fees in order to reach a fund balance that would be self-sustaining. We generally agreed to build a balance to that would cover some of the maintenance cost of the cemetery. The fees needed to be reviewed periodically. We felt that the city should pay some portion of the costs as the cemetery does fill a “park role” for some residents. The estimated percentage of “park”  was not fixed (10% to 15% was discussed). Staff will work with Mr. Millis to further refine the model and finalize initial fee recommendations. These would need to be approved at a future council meeting. Click here to review the presentation we were given.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

City Council 15-Nov-2016: Oak Ridge Rezone Decision, Open Space Maintenance Agreement, 10400 Sewer Project

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

About 40 people were in attendance. Most were there to discuss the rezone issue. This has been a somewhat controversial issue and we’ve had a lot of resident input. I ran a poll starting in September to better understand how residents feel about lot sizes (results shown below). Additionally, residents were not happy about the final vote and are petitioning for the matter to be on the 2017 election ballot. While technically the referendum can only overturn the decision to rezone this specific property a large majority decision on either side would be an indicator of the publics view of future R-1-40 to R-1-30 rezone requests. Anyone wishing to help gather signatures or sign a petition can contact Natalie Ball at I will discuss this further below.
2016-11-15 Oak Ridge Concept Plan

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

No Room For Them In The Inn—William George Jordan

No room in the inn 2The following is a chapter from William George Jordan’s book “The Crown of Individuality.” As always, his writing is filled with profound thoughts and great analogies.

No Room For Them In The Inn

The world’s attitude towards the birth of every great truth is focused in a single phrase in the simple story of the first Christmas, the greatest birthday since time began. Mary laid the infant Christ in a manger—“because there was no room for them in the inn.”

For worldly success, fame, social prestige, laurel-crowned triumph, the inn is illuminated; welcoming music fills the air; and the inn doors are thrown wide open. But struggle towards sublime attainment, heroic effort to better the world, simple consecration of soul to a noble ideal means—the manger and a lonely pathway lit only by the torch of truth held high in the hand of purpose.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

City Council 1-Nov-2016: Retail Building in Town Center, Quick-Quack Car Wash Site Plan.

2016 LogoAbout 8 people attended the council meeting at which we approved (1) the final plat for the Edge Home development on the south west side of town (R-1-30), the architectural plan for Quick Quack car wash, a site plan for a new building west of Wendy’s, and a sewer connection for a Golf Training Center which will be built in American Fork adjacent to Highland..

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Thursday, December 1, 2016

City Council 1-Nov-2016: Road Repair Plan Work Session

2016-11-01 Road Distress

Background: In 2011 a road study was begun which ended up projecting that the cost of repairing Highland’s D & F rated roads would be $16.2M. As the sturdy was reviewed by staff, residents, and council members a number of issues were uncovered which council and staff felt warranted a second opinion.

Earlier this year we executed a contract with PEPG Consulting to reassess C- through F rated roads in Highland using a core sampling methodology. Coring gives engineers a much better ability to assess the condition of a road segment and recommend an appropriate treatment. While the study was underway a committee composed of residents, staff members, and council members met monthly with PEPG to review the progress and provide input. I really appreciate those who participated.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

City Council 18-Oct-2016: N. County Aquifer Council, Open Space Maintenance Agreement Discussion

About 20 people attended the meeting. Most were there to participate in a discussion on maintenance agreements on open space land. Note, If you haven’t done so already please share your opinion as to what constitutes a “large lot” by voting in the poll below. Feel free to add comments.

In a survey conducted earlier this year the most frequently cited reason for living in Highland was large lots. The city now has three residential zones; which one meets your minimum criteria for large lots? free polls

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

City Council 4-Oct-2016: Apple Creek (rezone request), Budget adjustments.

There were ~30 residents at the council meeting. A decision on whether to rezone 5.76 acres of undeveloped land in the town center to allow an age restricted (55 and older) condo/lease with commercial development to be constructed was the issue which brought most of the residents.
2016-10-04 Apple Creek Elevation
Note, If you haven’t done so already please share your opinion as to what constitutes a “large lot” by voting in the poll below. Feel free to add comments.

In a survey conducted earlier this year the most frequently cited reason for living in Highland was large lots. The city now has three residential zones; which one meets your minimum criteria for large lots? free polls

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Monday, September 26, 2016

City Council 20-Sep-2016: Bike Trail Completed, 2017 Utility Projects, Code Enforcement, PI Rate Discussion

There were less than ten residents present. One stayed through the entire meeting (thanks). We approved two final plats one R-1-30 and one R-1-40.  As lot sizes continue to be topical I have started to put plat approvals into a Google Spreadsheet so that I can better understand the issue. Below is a chart and table that summarizes the data I’ve collected so far:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

City Council 6-Sep-2016: Splash Pad Fence, R-1-40 to R-1-30 Rezone Request

2016-09-06 Splash PadPrior to the meeting the council received numerous emails regarding the zone change request on the agenda. Most of the attendees at the meeting came to share their views on this issue. We had also received several emails regarding a small parking area in Canterbury that was recently cleaned up. I was surprised no one attended to bring up this issue given the number of emails. I also was a little surprised that there were no public comments on the water quality issue that’s been in the news of late. About 50 people were present.

Because one of the issues on the agenda was a rezone from R-1-40 to R-1-30 I would be interested in your response to the following 1 question poll.

In a survey conducted earlier this year the most frequently cited reason for living in Highland was large lots. The city now has three residential zones; which one meets your minimum criteria for large lots? free polls

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Public Comment

  • One resident spoke to the rezone issue in the public comment portion of the meeting when other rose to speak on this issue we deferred them to the public hearing portion of the agenda for this specific issue.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

City Council 16-Aug 2016: Fling, NUERA Landfill purchase, Selling City Water Shares


2016-08-16 Fling 1

About 30 residents attended the council meeting.

Council Meeting AGENDA / MINUTES

Public Comment

  • Residents asked the dead trees which pose a safety hazard be removed. This is was a long-standing request. Note, staff already has quotes to have the trees removed. The council later encouraged staff to act as soon as reasonable and to take advantage of the offer to help with the project by the residents.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

What Really Peaks the Interest of Highland Residents

I thought you might find it interesting to see the relative popularity of my Highland City posts during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Below is a chart of the showing the top and bottom five posts in terms of numbers of views:

2016-07-30 Highland Post Stats