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Amid Mellor fallout, Fayette mayor resigns

 

By Robert Stevens

 

02-14-2019

 

FAYETTE—Fayette Town Council members are now steering a ship through murky waters with no one at the helm.

During a meeting last Thursday, Feb. 7, the council announced the challenges of reorganizing the town government had gotten more complex with the resignation of the mayor.

Councilman Brandon Jensen, who was presiding during the meeting at Fayette Town Hall, announced Mayor Brenda Liefson had dropped off her keys to the town hall as well as all materials and documents connected to her job as mayor.

“She didn’t give an official letter of resignation, but she has turned in everything associated with her position as mayor, and we as a council has taken that as an act of resignation,” Jensen said.

Liefson, who took office on Jan. 1, 2018, was the only Fayette mayor over more than a decade to spot the misuse of public funds that siphoned off 10-12 percent of the entire town budget from 2009 (possibly earlier) to 2018.

After putting an end to the theft , Liefson reportedly began to receive a lot of pushback from members of the community for her actions to pursue prosecution of former town clerk Tracy Mellor.

A report on the Mellor case from the Utah State Auditor’s Offi ce lauded her, but apparently the criticism she received in the community was too much. She is reported to have said, “I’ve had enough.”

“If someone is interested in applying and assuming that responsibility, you need to come forward and let the council know,” Jensen said. “We want people to know and have the opportunity to volunteer.”

The council announced it that time Fowles had determined the ordinances needed a major overhaul. “There have been some changes over the years on the state level, in terms of development, and the county would like to bring our ordinances up to date,” said Fowles. To do so, the county has hired Dr. Michael Clay from BYU to make the initial recommendations of changes that need to be made.

Fowles explained, “BYU has a great reputation in helping municipalities and counties improve their ordinances.”

Dr. Black, who was also present, told those in attendance he would take the list of the counties’ issues and concerns, compile a set of ordinances to address those, and then bring those ordinances back to the county for action in March.

Bartholomew said, “There is no set time frame, we don’t want to rush him, we want to get this right. Our ordinances are a living document, which will be tweaked and amended as needed as we implement the rules and fi nd out what works and what doesn’t.”

However, Dr. Black also noted there were many “topics” of issues of concern to the county, and it might take more than one set of meetings to address them all. Also, once the new ordinances are brought back to the county, those must be brought to the public for comment before they can be enacted.

Most of the meeting was taken up with identifying the issues that would need to be addressed by Dr. Black for the county. Bartholomew reminded those attending that the meeting was not about trying to decide how to address the issues yet, which would be done after Dr. Black brought back his recommendations.

The most prominent issues revolved around various people trying to get around ordinances about what kind of buildings could be used as a dwelling for human occupation, especially in areas bordering on or near national forest areas. Storage containers, “shabins,” sheds in mountain recreational areas acting as “wooden tents,” “tiny homes” on wheels and Wilderness Urban Interfaces (WUI) all fell into these general concerns.

Vacation rental ordinances, in depth nuisances, major/minor subdivisions “loop-holes,” road issues and buffer zones were all other issues that came up during the meeting.

Dr. Black told the audience he would likely be back in front of them sometime in February, with the aim of getting actionable ordinances by sometime in March. At the same time, the county will identify what other issues may need to be addressed at later meetings.