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County commission considers update for P&Z ordinances

 

By James Tilson

 

02-14-2019

 

MANTI—The Sanpete County Commission and Planning Commission hosted a work meeting last Monday to discuss updating and revamping the county’s planning and zoning ordinances.

The goal is to bring them up to date and deal with nagging issues plaguing the county.

The commission’s open work meeting, which was attended by commissioners Scott Bartholomew and Steve Lund, county economic director Kevin Christensen, planning administrator Devan Fowles, and planning commissioners Gene Jacobsen and Leon Day, addressed how to update the county’s ordinances.

“Our ordinances are really old and outdated,” said Bartholomew. He pointed out the county hired Fowles to enforce the ordinance last year, but in 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 find 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.