Planning commission refining buffer zones

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

4-20-2017

 

 

MANTI—The Sanpete County Planning Commission moved to the next step in efforts to synchronize rules for “buffer zones” for all Sanpete communities at its last meeting.

That step is to simply define the term, at least as it would be used in county land-use ordinances.

The county and cities have for years had buffer zones, or areas of surrounding land immediately adjacent to a city, where the county would take into consideration the city’s zoning and its plans regarding possible futured annexation of those areas.

But as those cities’ zoning and land-use plans were not incorporated into county land-use ordinances, the county had no option but to comply with development requests that followed the letter of county requirements, but varied substantially from those of the city.

The resulting clash between intent and reality in those buffer zones has led to the current revamping of buffer-zone law.

An early step of that was for Chairman Loren Thompson and members of the commission to find out from cities what their plans were regarding any annexation into their buffer zones.

With that completed, Thompson, at the commission’s meeting on April 12, said the next step was to define what exactly a “buffer zone” is.

He suggested that it should be defined as “the area around a city, within its potential annexation area, where the city can define the zoning of the zone.”

This would seem to allow a city to plan how it wanted to zone the area around it for future annexation, while allowing the county to enforce within the buffer zone the zoning desired by the city.

But commission member Leon Day wondered aloud whether giving cities this authority would make development too expensive. The county wants to encourage development and annexation by the cities, but Day worried that the fees in the buffer zones might be too much for some developers.

Thompson said that for this meeting, they should “take first things first” and just work on a definition, and worry about enforcement later.

Day replied that he thought the buffer zone could just be the city’s annexation plan, and it wouldn’t even have to be called a “buffer zone.”

The commission agreed that Thompson and Sanpete County Zoning Administrator Scott Olsen would work on the exact wording prior to the next commission meeting.

In other business, the commission approved:

  • A new power substation for the city of Fairview. The city plans to intercept the power line coming into the city near the current rodeo grounds, bury it, and bring it into the city. Long term, Fairview plans to put switches at the substation so that not all of the city would lose power during an outage.
  • A Verizon cellphone tower to be erected about five miles north of Ephraim, near the Chester landfill. The pole will be 120 feet, and allow for multiple carriers to add their signal to the pole, as well as an equipment platform, an emergency generator and back-up batteries.
  • A Verizon cellphone pole to be erected just west of Ephraim off of 300 North (near the “kennel” site). This pole will be 100 foot high, and enclosed by a block wall.