MANTI—The Manti City Council has voted to put a six-month moratorium on conditional use permits so it can add language to its zoning ordinances describing standards for the permits.
“We learned there’s a hole in our ordinance that needs to be fixed,” City Manager Kent Barton told the council at its Feb. 2 meeting.
The council agreed that two pending applications for conditional-use permits could be approved before the moratorium took effect.
Barton said that during a training staged by the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the city learned that under state law, a zoning ordinance can’t simply say a conditional use permit is required in a given situation. The ordinance must describe standards for any requirements set down in the permits.
Conditional use permits are agreements between the city and a property owner saying that as a condition of being permitted to put a certain type of development in a certain zone, the property owner must meet stated conditions.
Typically, the conditions relate to design, exterior building materials, and landscaping and fencing, among other features.
For example, under Manti’s present ordinance, 10 different uses are always permitted in the R-1 residential zone, including single-family homes, churches, schools, parks and accessory buildings.
But other uses, including care centers and duplexes, are allowed with conditional use permits.
The R-2 residential zone permits 13 types of uses, including townhomes (up to four in one structure), duplexes, twin homes, child-care centers and home occupations.
But another five types of uses are allowed with conditional-use permits, including townhome structures with five or more units, mobile-home parks, clubs and lodges.
To comply with state law, “standards” language would need to be added to the R-1 and R-2 ordinances, saying, for instance, that “sufficient parking,” or “landscaping equivalent to the primary uses allowed in the zone,” or a design “that is not detrimental to surrounding properties” for a conditional use permit to be granted.
“The standards speak to the macro concerns,” Barton said. The planning commission could still look at the micro level and enforce the standards in detail, such as requiring a certain number of parking spaces, a certain number of feet of landscaping or certain materials on a building facade.
“The Utah League of Cities and Towns recommended that cities look at their conditional use permits and make sure that desired standards are defined or consider eliminating them,” Barton told the council.
But Councilman Jeff Killian, who was chairman of the Manti Planning and Zoning Commission before he was elected to the council, favored keeping conditional uses. “The success of a development is often (dependent on) the conditions that are placed on it,” he said.
Killian noted that conditional uses are one of the few aspects of development that the planning commission approves or denies on its own, as opposed to simply reviewing a proposed project and making a recommendation to the city council for approval or denial.