Mayfield tables proposal to join interlocal police force
MAYFIELD—After months of discussion on the topic, the Mayfield Town Council has voted to table approval of joining an interlocal law enforcement agreement with the towns of Centerfield and Gunnison.
During a public hearing, held in Mayfield on Wednesday, Sept. 7, a number of townspeople spoke out against the idea of Mayfield having a dedicated police presence, wanting to keep things as they have been.
Mayor John Christensen stood before those gathered and spoke about his feelings regarding the necessity for Mayfield to begin taking steps towards having dedicated law enforcement.
Christensen said, “As the county has grown, it’s becoming harder and harder for deputies to spend time in Mayfield.”
Christensen went on to explain how he believes Mayfield has potential to become a Class 5 city, which would then require them to have their own police force.
City classification is done based on population, and a Class 5 city, according to Christensen, is a city or town that has a population of 1,000 residents or more.
If Mayfield were to start their own police agency, Christensen said, the town would be looking at an expense of upwards of $200,000 a year or more to run and maintain. If the city signed the interlocal agreement between Mayfield, Gunnison and Centerfield, the projected cost for dedicated law enforcement would cost the city $30,000 a year, a difference that Christensen, at least, sees as a viable solution.
The majority of the citizens and some council members who gathered during Wednesday’s meeting, however, disagreed.
Citizen Mike Bennett spoke before the crowd, saying “I think this law enforcement in Mayfield is going to put a sour taste in our mouths.”
When asked how often the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, who currently is responsible for law enforcement in Mayfield, has had to respond to the town in the last year, Christensen acknowledged that it was not as often as he’d thought, citing 10-15 times that a sheriff’s deputy had responded in the previous twelve months.
Though several citizens cited fear of heavy-handed law enforcement as their biggest concern, town recorder Catherine Bartholomew responded, saying “I know it’s fun to have the town the way it is, but eventually liability becomes an issue.”
However, after much discussion, The council voted to table the idea of joining the interlocal agreement at the present time, with a 4 to 1 vote. Christensen was the only councilmember who voted to join the agreement.
Christensen, who has worked extensively with the leadership and law enforcement in Centerfield and Gunnison drafting the agreement, was notably disappointed with the outcome of the public hearing and subsequent vote. He told the Messenger, “I’m frustrated. But I’m the type of guy who, if I see things not going one way, I will look toward an alternative way.”
During the second portion of the public hearing, both Christensen and councilwoman Melynda Bjerregaard spoke about the need to update the general plan.
Bjerregaard told those in attendance that “as the town changes and grows, we have to have an idea of what we want to do, that’s what the general plan is for.”
The council is asking the citizens if they should use $15,000 that they currently have budgeted to approach the Community Impact Board (CIB) for a matching grant to pay for the services of Jones and Demille to re-write the general plan.
According to Christensen, if matching funds are secured with the CIB, Jones and Demille will likely begin work on the plan in early 2017.
The majority of the citizens present voiced their agreement that the city must have a plan in place in order to move forward into the future.
Under the current general plan, the city of Mayfield is zoned purely residential, with no authority to grant business permits, or modify zoning, something that Bjerregaard is working to remedy.
According to Bjerregaard, the state of Utah has recently been moving away from granting conditional use permits, which is what the city has granted to small businesses in the past. Mayfield has placed a moratorium on conditional use permits as of now.