Ephraim general plan will set
tone for growth, development
By Rhett Wilkinson
EPHRAIM— What is in that 59-page draft of the Ephraim’s 2020 general plan adopted by the city council on July 15?
Although a general plan comprises the vision for the long-term growth of a city, there are six facets of the “Ephraim City Outlook:” land use, transportation, economy, housing, infrastructure and emergency preparedness.
Legally, the city had to hold a public hearing on the general plan draft and it had to be reviewed by the planning commission and city council, said Bryan Kimball, Ephraim City community development director/city engineer.
“We’ve been working on this since the spring,” Kimball said.
Also, stakeholders were personally contacted for their thoughts on the plan in the process of getting “kind of a broad cross-section of different residents throughout the town,” Kimball said.
A few dozen people weren’t randomly picked, but selected to represent different demographics in the city.
“Just trying to get some different perspective from different parts of the town and different demographics … of the town,” Kimball said.
The feedback that the city got came through online surveys administered besides the public hearing. The surveys had different categories.
“We had a public hearing formally,” Kimball said, adding that the online surveys allowed the city to hear from residents when they wouldn’t have otherwise.
“[We] feel good about the number of survey responses we got,” Kimball said. “We feel like we were successful there.”
In fact, Kimball said: “We feel like the survey responses generated a better response than even the public meetings do,” noting that public meetings see only a small turnout. “The survey reached more people than a typical public meeting would.”
It makes Kimball want to do more online surveys in the future.
The city will now go forward in seeking to make its short-term goals meet its long-term goals. They will come up with a strategy to do that.
“That’s our intent now,” Kimball said. “We have some long-term goals, so how do we [get there] from here.”
Kimball is excited about new Geographical Information System (GIS) for the city that came out of the general plan project.
“People are going to be able to go online and see the existing and the future GIS maps for the future zoning,” Kimball said. “You can zoom into a parcel and see what the zone is, so I’m excited about that … that’s something we haven’t been able to do online before and we are now able to do.”
Kimball also noted that a “fair amount of work” went into the plan project and that the document with the plan draft is a “living document.”
Rural Community Consultants, a branch of Jones and DeMille Engineering, prepared the general plan, said Devan Fowles, city planner for Ephraim City.
Here is a breakdown of the general plan:
Regarding land use, “Future growth of the city is most likely to occur as infill development as well as to the south, because of the existing infrastructure as well as the slopes and high water tables,” an executive summary of the plan draft states.
“Ephraim City is expected to continue to grow in population during the life of this plan. The expected growth for residential housing has taken place in the east side of the city and primarily around Snow College.
“Annexation is expected to continue, with the majority of residential development occurring to the southeast. Industrial and commercial development is expected to continue to develop to the southwest.”
Regarding transportation, “With increased enrollment and physical attendance at Snow, the need for alternative methods of transportation will become more needed in the future.”
There is “continued interest in active transportation networks that ‘connect-the-dots’ between residential, institutional, and commercial destinations.
“As the commute shed from the Wasatch Front continues to expand, there may be the potential for a shuttle service.
The summary also promises “Regional trail connections between Ephraim and Manti.”
Regarding economy, “Ephraim City will continue to be an economic hub for the Sanpete County region.
“Major employers in the area are currently in stable condition, and expect to grow.
“Snow College is likely to expand its physical footprint well into the future.
“The need to preserve historic aspects of the community will continue to be a priority as development in the area occurs.”
Regarding housing, “As long as Snow College sees the growth they expect to see in the future, there is going to be a need for more affordable housing within the community.”
“While multi-family housing is needed within a short distance of the college, there is also a need for single family housing to help support the market for those not attending Snow.
“A suite of solutions is needed to meet the need of all residents who call Ephraim home for the long and short term.
Regarding infrastructure, “The city is expecting aggregate water usage to continue to increase with population increases.”
“The operating efficiencies of the city’s infrastructure systems are expected to improve as infill development occurs.”
Regarding emergency preparedness, “The recalculation of flood potential could have a significant impact on many properties.”
“The location and necessity of infrastructure assets in Ephraim Canyon is going to be an ongoing risk for the community (i.e. landslide/earthquake could significantly impact water supply).”
Community Context and Vision
Regarding “Snow College and Ephraim,” “Plans shown in the 2016 Snow College Master Plan, the school is preparing for future expansion to the north for housing the south for a future venue location and the natural expansion of school buildings to the west,” the draft reads.
Regarding a “community survey,” given the results of community surveys, Ephraim’s top five priorities are “infrastructure systems,” “maintaining and enhancing quality of life,” “employee relations,” “financial integrity” and “economic development.”
Regarding annexation, “Ephraim City has not received a consistent number of petitions for annexation into the city over the last 10 years,” the draft reads. “Those that have been annexed have been small requests of one or two parcels at a time. The exception has been a 400-acre parcel that included multiple parcels for a variety of development opportunities.
“The city favors annexation that when needed provides the necessary water shares and the ability to connect infrastructure to meet the requirements of the city for development,” the draft reads.
Regarding “gateways,” “The city has not historically established formal guidelines for development in their gateway areas, but will consider doing so in the future,” the draft reads.
Regarding current conditions, the number of jobs has increased 7.3 percent since 2016. “However, a large portion of the population of Ephraim are students attending Snow College, and this skews a few economic indicators. The city’s poverty rate is 28 percent, compared to the state average of 11 percent,” the draft reads.
Regarding “demand assumptions + areas of potential,” “The goals and policies relative to the local economy are based on core assumptions about the next five years, including: 1. Ephraim City will continue to be an economic hub for the Sanpete County region; 2. Major employers in the area are currently in stable condition, and expect to grow; 3. Snow College is likely to expand its physical footprint well into the future; and 4. Ephraim is the most likely location for regional medical facilities.”
Regarding moderate income housing, “Future projections predict by the year 2025 of those making below the average area median income the percentages that will be cost-burdened, meaning they will spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing costs,” the draft reads.
Infrastructure and public facilities
Regarding the sewer system, “There is a need for additional sanitary system projects to correct existing issues and to accommodate for future development (with a total estimated cost of $2,892,000 to construct all the recommendations).
“Ephraim’s current wastewater system has approximately 2,420 connections. The master plan calculates a need to establish the capacity for almost 3,000 additional connections over the next 20 years.
“The wastewater system will need to be improved before significant development can take place in the recently-annexed land on the north end of the City,” the draft reads.
Risk and resilience
Regarding “emergency preparedness and hazard mitigation,” 13 percent of homes in Ephraim comprising 489 people have a greater risk of flooding than others, according to the draft.
Regarding “demand assumptions and potential improvements,” “The goals and policies relative to the city’s risk and resilience are based on core assumptions about the next five years, including: 1. The recalculation of flood potential could have a significant impact on many properties; 2. The location and necessity of infrastructure assets in Ephraim Canyon is going to be an ongoing risk for the community (i.e. landslide/earthquake could significantly impact water supply).”
Heritage and culture
Regarding “demand assumptions and potential improvements,” “The goals and policies relative to heritage and culture are based on core assumptions about the next five years, including the need to preserve historic aspects of the community will continue to be a priority as development in the area occurs.”