This meeting and the lead up to it provided me with a lot of food for thought. It was well attended ~90. The Blackstone town home project and the Highland Blvd / 11800 N intersection were the key issues which brought interested residents to the meeting. Interestingly enough, this is the first time I can remember that Toscana residents have added their voice to the discussion. Below are some of my thoughts on this issue.
Three members of the council strongly opposed the project and actively sought to find a means to deny the permit. They sincerely felt (and still do) that there were alternative uses that would better serve the city. However, after a lot of research and study it was clear that there were no legal grounds to the deny the project and so when the vote was taken they voted to approve the conditional use permit. A roll call vote was used. By the time the 2 of the opponents were asked to register their vote the permit had already received the 3 votes needed for approval. The two opponents could easily have voted no and gained the favor of the audience (most of who were strongly opposed to the project) but voted yes because they believed that was the correct decision. We all took an oath to uphold the US and Utah Constitution and it was clear to all that according to the law a conditional use permit could not be denied. Valid conditions were put on the permit to ensure that detrimental impacts are mitigated and that code is complied with.
I have to say that I believe the 3 council members whose terms are expiring this year (Brian Braithwaite, Tim Irwin, and Jessie Schoenfeld) are honorable people who have done their best to serve the community well. I fully endorse the two members who are running for re-election, Brian and Tim. We don’t always agree and often have vigorous discussions but we respect each other and personally I continue to gain more respect for them as we continue to work together. I don’t want to leave Dennis Lebaron out as well. He is a gem and the city has benefitted greatly from his service.
I believe what many opponents did not understand is that the approval process for conditional use permits is administrative and that to a large extent the developer is in control. If code and the reasonable conditions that mitigate detrimental impacts are adhered to, the city is, by law, obligated to issue a permit. With that understanding I believe the opponents would have been able to have more influence on the project by working with the developer. Instead a few opponents helped to foster a contentious relationship and thereby limited ability of residents to influence the developer. Although, in truth they did have some influence. For example, in response to concern about pedestrian safety (especially children) the developer added pedestrian activated flashing warning lights a several point around the development.
“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”—Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, 1937
During the final discussion on the issue tonight the developer’s attorney made two comments for the record. I believe he was just doing his job to get information in the record in case they needed to file a lawsuit but I want to make sure the record is clear.
Comment 1: “I find it strange that while we only heard about the new parking stalls for business condition last night that the residents who made comments today referenced this as an issue.” – not an exact quote. I can see how it could feel to the developer like there was something suspicious about this. However, I don’t believe that is what happened. It is more plausible to me that in talking with residents about the project the parking issue was raised by residents looking for detrimental impacts. A council member then looked into it and saw that there was a business parking code requirement. This then was added to the conditions on the permit. It would be natural for the residents who raised the issue to include it in their final arguments against the project without knowing that it had been added to the stipulations. We didn’t talk about the new condition.
Comment 2: Concern about the council’s formal inquiry on trading property after adding the additional business parking requirement. I understand why the attorney might feel that the council added a new condition to put pressure on the developer to trade. However, that just isn’t the case. Last Friday own my own initiative I asked the developer if he would be willing to trade his town center land for property the city owned. After I did a quick review with him of what was available to trade it became apparent that pretty much any land we had would not have the same value to him. Later that day a council member called me to discuss the issue and then mentioned perhaps we could do a land swap. I said something like, “funny you should ask.” The idea was then raised with the rest of the council and it was decided it couldn’t hurt to ask. Looking for a win/win solution is rarely a bad idea.
One of the partners in the development firm that filed for the Blackstone project who is a Highland resident spoke. He talked about his motivations for the project – do something good for the community by building quality town homes to provide options for people who want to move to or stay in Highland but don’t have the time, energy, or funds to deal with the maintenance of large lot homes.
4 residents opposed the project. One said that that the developer was not honest in saying he wanted to do something good for the community because the community opposed the project. Another stated that I should do the honest thing and recuse myself since I know the developer and consider him a friend (note he previously sent me an email requesting that if I was going to vote yes that I recuse myself for the same reason). A third felt that project did not meet code because in his view it was not compatible with the general plan. Mrs. Kohler indicated that she would not be signing an easement revision that would allow the development to put an emergency entrance/exit behind Ridley’s.
3 Toscana residents indicated that they appreciated the opportunity they had to live in a nice location. Although they would likely move as circumstances changed (e.g. their family grew, they had more time to spend on a yard ward …) they enjoyed living in Toscana.
1 resident spoke in favor of continuing the deer maintenance program.
Utah Lake Commission – Eric Ellis, Executive Director
Eric discussed some the commissions priorities: completing a trail system to provide lake access, carp removal (over 19 millions pounds have been taken out of the lake), better access to the lake (there are 30 public access points, 25 of which have signs), phragmites eradication.
You may like me wonder when I first heard about a phragmites problem, what the heck is that. Here is a picture with a link to an article entitled “Vile weed! Restoring shoreline with controlled reed removal”:
To learn more about the eradication program click here.
- Utah Local Government Trust Insurance Update – Ryan Hatch
The trust is one of the city’s insurance provider (errors and omissions for staff and public offices, vehicle, property …) . Since it is a public agency and we are a “member” agency we do get rebates/dividends when the agency has profits. This year we have received $7,500.
- Open Meeting Law – Tim Merrill, City Attorney
Tim reviewed the open meeting laws the apply to council members. Basically anytime 3 or more of us meet together to discuss city issues then that constitutes a public meeting that needs to be notified. Being together at a social, political event (i.e. candidate night), or as a result of incidental contact does not constitute a meeting. Tim also pointed out that a conflict of interest needs to be declared in cases where we are deciding issues where a council member or his family has substantial financial interest (see Utah Code Title 10 Chapter 3 Part 13 Section 1306). There is no requirement to recuse oneself. Tim addressed this because of the resident complaint regarding myself. Being acquainted with or being a friend of someone does not constitute a conflict of interest. In the case of Blackstone I have friends on both sides of the issue.
MOTION: Extension of an Agreement for the Purchase and Extraction of Aggregate until November 30, 2015 – Westroc. See council agenda pages 3-6. Approved unanimously
MOTION: Final Plat Approval for an 11 lot subdivision located at 5650W. 9600 No. - Flats at Fox Hollow. See council agenda pages 7-11. Approved unanimously
MOTION: Conditional Use Permit, Site Plan and Architectural Approval for an 86 Unit Multi-Family Townhome Development in the Town Center Flex Use Zoning District – Blackstone.See council agenda pages 12-204.
The city administrator gave a short report on the permit status and conditions. There were 20 conditions (see below) referenced plus a new one that required 19 additional parking spaces on the north property and 11 on the south.
1) The site plan shall conform to the site plan and elevations dated August 10, 2015, except as modified by these stipulations.
2. The location of water and sewer lines in relation to lot lines and building foundations shall be reviewed by the Engineering Department and Building Division with the civil improvement plans to ensure adequate spacing and appropriate locations.
3. Potential homebuyers shall be informed by CC&R’s, affidavit, and posted notice in the model home sales office of the following:
a. Ownership and maintenance of private streets.
b. Responsibility for repairing private streets after utility maintenance.
c. Parking restrictions for residents and visitors.
d. Ownership and maintenance responsibility for all common areas.
e. No more than four unrelated persons my live in a unit.
4. The property owner shall establish an irrevocable maintenance fund by the CC+R’s to ensure maintenance of the private streets. In addition, all private streets shall be constructed to meet Town design standards.
5. A note shall be added to the Final Plat and the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions stating the Homeowner’s Association shall be responsible for the maintenance of all private streets.
6. The civil construction drawings shall meet all requirements as determined by the Town Engineer.
7. The final landscape plans shall be reviewed and approved prior to issuance of a building permit.
8. A comprehensive sign plan addressing private drive signage, building addressing and permanent directional signage shall be submitted and approved prior to preliminary plat approval. All signs shall be uniform in theme and appearance.
9. The Fire Marshall shall approve the location of all fire hydrants prior to approval of the civil construction plans.
10. Parking shall be prohibited on all private roads and enforced by the Home Owners Association.
11. A six foot concrete wall shall be installed along the property perimeter.
12. No building permits shall be issued until the 10400 North sewer line has been completed.
13. The access to the shopping center service drive shall be removed and the area redesigned to meet all emergency access and subdivision requirements.
14. Utilities and a road stub shall be provided to the property to parcel #11:039:0010 and parcel #41:617:0007.
15. A minimum 449 square foot basement shall be provided for each unit.
16. All garbage cans shall be stored inside the garage. This shall be enforced by the HOA.
17. The north parcel shall be the first phase.
18. All perimeter walls, open space, and guest parking shall be completed in the first phase of development on each site.
19. A minimum driveway throat distance of twenty feet shall be provided for all entrances.
20. A revised landscape plan shall be submitted with the preliminary plat application.
The attorney for the developer spoke and let us know which items they were not concerned with and then 5 items that they had some concern with including the following:
1. No building permit will be issued until the sewer project on 10400 is completed. (condition 12)
2. Requiring a perimeter wall. (condition 11)
3. Phasing requirements (conditions 17 & 18)
4. Minimum basement size (condition 15)
5. Business parking (new requirement). Developer is concerned but will comply.
Following the attorney’s comments we discussed the developers concern and the city planner addressed each one to our satisfaction. 1) Because the development did not provide a development schedule we needed to provide some control on building so that the current sewer line is overloaded. 2) There is a design standard which requires a wall. 3) I don’t remember. 4) The size was based on a commitment the developer made in a previous council meeting.
Brian Braithwaite discussed the need to include on the final plat a notice regarding that general nature of the surrounding businesses to ensure that buyers had clear opportunity to understand that there will be noise in the case of the grocery store starting at 3 am. This became another condition. The developer had no issue with the requirement.
Having satisfied our general concerns. Brian gave his final comments prior to voting. He pointed out that while he did not feel the project was in Highland’s best interest, based on the law, he believed we were required to approve the permit. Dennis echoed Brian’s comments. No one else made any statements.
Jessie Schoenfeld moved to approach the permit with the 2 new stipulations (parking and a notice on the final plat). Dennis Lebaron seconded the motion and a role call vote was taken with each council member voting yes.
- MOTION: Authorization to Proceed with Construction - Dry Creek Trail, Phase 3. See council agenda pages 205-210.
Unanimously approved getting quotes from contractor to complete the trail reconstruction. We also ok’d splitting it into two projects earthwork and asphalt if that would reduce the cost. We discussed the merit of relocating the trail and laying down road base this year and having the asphalt put in this year. One of the drivers is that the asphalt plants shut down production at the end of October. If we use city resources to do the project it wouldn’t be completed until next year. It would reduce our cost by about half (if you don’t include staff time).
MOTION: Urban Deer Control Program – Maintenance Plan. See council agenda pages 211-217.
The council unanimously approved continuing the current Urban Deer Control program and asked that the program manager give council a report next year as was done last year.
- MOTION: Conditional Use Permit Salt Storage Building – Northwest corner of Park Drive and SR92. See council agenda pages 218-222.
Unanimously approved the project. In the picture below the building is located on the “left” side of the property while space allocated on the right for cars to drop off kids to be picked up by the school bus. Staff collected data with respect to when school buses drop off and pick up children. As a matter of policy they will not access the salt storage facility during those time windows.
- MOTION: Operational Safety Report – 11800 North and Highland Blvd. See council agenda pages 223-228. Unanimously approved a motion to:
1. Remove all trees located in the south median (pictured below) to allow for a better line of sight and to reduce any distractions.
2. Replace the paint stop line with thermoplastic for better visibility and longevity with a pavement message marking STOP prior to the stop line.
3. Install side road warning signs on Highland Boulevard for both the northbound and southbound approaches.
Note, staff has ordered the flashing speed limit sign, flashing stop sign, and three advanced warning signs. It is estimated that the signs will be installed by the end of September. Utah County will also be ordering one flashing speed limit sign for south bound traffic north of the intersection. Our sign will be installed on the south side of the intersection for northbound traffic. Devirl Barfuss, who was in attendance was able to discuss the reduction in traffic speed that similar signs had on Country Club Drive.
MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL & STAFF COMMUNICATION ITEMS
- Everbridge Communications – E.D. Barfuss. See council agenda pages 229-249.
Devirl reviewed with the council a mass communication system used by most of the county called Everbridge. It would cost Highland about $4,000/yr. and would provide the ability to instantly send messages to identified groups of individual or individuals located in a specific geographic region. At present the city has no mass communication capability as the county system we had subscribed to is no longer supported.
- Alpine School District – Mayor Thompson.
The mayor brought the council up to speed on negotiations with ASD for the Lone Peak HS to use the land west of the seminary building for student parking. The has consented to allow ASD to cut the curbing on Knight avenue and to gravel the land between the road and the seminary for use a student parking this year.
- Saved water shares – Mayor Thompson.
The mayor discussed giving the city the ability to sell water rights is purchased when the canal was piped (new water rights were created because by piping the canal water loss was diminished. Staff will provide a report at future meeting on the implications of such a decision.
- Action item discussion. Jessie suggested that a couple of items on the action item list should be removed. I mentioned that dates needed to be updated as well. You can see my comments relative to the list in the council agenda.
STAFF AND COUNCIL ACTION ITEM LIST
Requested by / Owner
|Road Capital Improvement Plan for FY 15-16. Prioritize and Communicate to Residents|| |
|Determine Park Use for Recreation|| |
4th Qtr. 2015
|Staff to make recommendations|
|Building Use Policy - Fees|| |
3rd Qtr. 2015
Staff gathering information
|HW Bldg. – PW Storage Status|| |
End of 2015
|SR74 Median at Pebble Lane Subdivision|| |
|Removal of median|
|Moratorium for the Town Center Overlay|| |
Historical Society request for storage room and display area in Community Center
End of 2015