Thursday, October 16, 2014

City Council 7 Oct 2014: Ashford, PSD, Mail-In Voting

Fourteen residents attended the meeting. Most were either residents of the Ashford assisted living center or are associated with the facility (e.g. have relatives that live there or work there). Note, I particularly enjoy the interactivity that the mayor allows us to have with attendees. I believe it allows residents to feel that their voice is heard and provides us with the opportunity to learn.


  1. Public Comment:

    2014-10-07 Ashord N Wall

    The public comment time was used exclusively by the Ashford contingent. All comments (5) were requests that the council revise the code associated with the Senior Care and Assisted Living Overlay (SCALO) to allow a wrought iron fence to be built on the north side of the property (see yellow line on the image above) rather than a 6’ wall. The wall is required by code and has already been built on the east side of the property. The owner posted a bond in December of 2013 to build a wall on the N side in order to obtain a certification of occupancy from the city. Their comments included the following:

    • Copies of emails from October & December of 2013  from the neighbors facing the N. end of the center that indicated they were not opposed to a fence rather than a wall. Note, the council has since received a petition from 13 of the 14 neighbors indicating that they want the wall to be built as well as  several emails to that effect.
    • Pictures were shared of the area at night that compare the light from the Care Center with the light of neighboring homes
    • Ashford residents commented that their view of the surrounding area would be obstructed. Note, the biggest impact will be on residents in 4 of the apartments.
    • One resident noted that she was not informed about the wall during the selection process.
    • Tim Irwin asked for another council member to support putting an agenda item on the next council meeting to discuss the issue further. Jessie Schoenfeld supported his request and it will be a discussion issue at the next council meeting.
    • Brain Braithwaite pointed out to the residents that this is not a new issue to the council. Council members are well informed on the matter. He has spent a significant amount of time reviewing the issue and has visited the care center and surrounding area multiple times.
    • Further discussion on this issue was deferred until the next meeting when it will be on the council agenda as a formal discussion item.
    • My point of view on the issue is that this is a settled item. When the bond was posted to obtain a certificate of occupancy then the wall existed in a legal sense. While Ashford residents will have their view obstructed by a wall. Their view could also be obstructed by a hedge, shrubs or trees on the other side of a fence. I believe a primary reason for zoning requirements such as the wall is to minimize the impact of commercial development on adjacent residential property. The wall will shield neighbors from traffic entering and leaving Ashford and may have a positive impact on home values versus a fence. At this point I see no compelling reason to reopen an issue that was approved by the planning commission, city council, and mayor. I have visited with neighbors, been inside Ashford multiple times and spoken with the owner. BTW, Ashford is a well run establishment with staff that cares about the residents and provides a valuable service to the community. I will be interested


    1. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for City Council Regular Session – September 2, 2014—Approved.

    2. MOTION: Approval of Meeting Minutes for City Council Work Session – September 4, 2014—Approved

    3. MOTION: Ratify the Mayors Appointment to the Beautification Committee – DeVirl (Ed) Barfuss—Approved


    1. MOTION: Approve Amended Lone Peak PSD Interlocal Agreement – Notice of time to leave the District.

      The request from the PSD board was to discuss requiring member cities (Alpine, Cedar Hills, & Highland) of the district to give 4 years notice to leave the Lone Peak Fire District. The primary reason cited was to help with employee moral and to improve the districts ability to hire the best graduates. The rationale is that if a city can exit the District with one years notice this would not give employees sufficient time to find new jobs with other fire departments at similar levels (senior resources might need to start at the bottom).

      A couple of years ago Cedar Hills threatened to leave the district which elevated the issue. The recommendation for 4 years as opposed to a shorter time period came from the Alpine City Administrator.

      The council unanimously rejected the idea of a 4 year period and requested that a proposed revision of the Interlocal agreement be shared with the city that includes a shorter (perhaps 2 year period) along with any language changes that would improve the agreement. One of the reasons I was opposed to the 4 year period (and perhaps any period longer than the existing1 year) was because of the potential difficulty in hiring replacements for people who left during the 4 year period. If a prospective employee had multiple options why would they join a department that would be significantly downsized in less than 4 years?

      The PSD board is looking into the merits of creating an independent fire district with its own taxing authority. In this case the fire district’s expenses would be paid through a dedicated property tax. The new district would be managed by a board composed of either all elected members or a combination of elected and appointed (by the cities within the district). The Alpine, Cedar Hills and Highland city councils and the country commissioners would need to approve putting this on the ballot.  A majority vote of the residents of the proposed district would be required to officially create the district.


    1. Jody Bates, city clerk, shared with the council the desire of the Lt. Governor for municipalities be the first to implement sending mail-in ballots to all voters for the 2015 municipal elections. He would like to understand whether or not cities are interested in exploring this option. His position is that this is one way to increase voter participation and have more informed voters. The council voted 4 to 1 to indicate it is willing to explore this option. Tim Irwin was the opposing vote. I personally have concerns but am willing to look into it.. Here are some of my concerns and questions:

      • How do you protect against voter fraud?
      • Won’t it be easier for one member of a household to unduly influence other members?
      • Sending out ballots to everyone 30 days in advance of the election increases the cost of campaigning. Candidates need to start earlier because of the increased chance that voters will turn in their ballots immediately after receiving them. The time required to run and associated costs will rise.
      • Increased cost in terms of time and money may limit the candidate pool.
      • Would an extended campaign actually decrease interest in an election?
      • While this may increase voter turn-out, how does universal vote by mail increase the number of informed voters?


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