Sanpete planning commission begins re-organizing county buffer zones

Sanpete planning commission begins re-organizing county buffer zones


James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI — The Sanpete Planning Commission moved forward with plans to re-organize the county ordinances regarding “buffer zones” around the Sanpete municipalities at their regular monthly meeting on June 14.

Zoning Administrator Scott Olson and Commission Chair Loren Thompson had been working on a new definition of “buffer zones” for several months, and presented their handiwork to the commission for approval.

The new definition states: “Compromising of the RA-1, RA-2, BC, and Industrial zones located within 1 mile of the Municipality where a proposed development and/or change of use, is required to give notice to the Municipality, allowing the Municipality the ability to review and recommend utility services (power, water and sewer) and road development standards relative to the Municipalities Development Plan, Annexation Plan and/or Expansion Area.”

Commissioner Gene Jacobson asked whether a city could deny a zone change in a buffer zone if it fulfilled county ordinances. Thompson assured him that the new definition only allowed the city to make recommendations after being given notice – the city would not have the authority to deny a zone change.

Thompson went on the say that the definition was not final, either. It still had to go through a public hearing process, and receive final approve (after possible amendments from the Planning Commission) from the County Commission.

After discussion, the new definition was approved by the Commission.

Also presented to the Commission was a new form developed by Olson and Thompson, entitled “Sanpete County City Buffer Zone Application Notice.” Olson had taken that form previously used and made the form more definite on having the city comment on whether a proposed development would be in its annexation plans, and whether the roads or utility services would be adequate.

Jacobson again questioned Olson and Thompson. He wondered if the cities would be given notice of this new form. Olson answered that the form would be used in every application within a buffer zone, and would have to be presented to the city. If any city had a question, it could call Olson as the Zoning Administrator.

Jacobson wondered what would happen if the city refused to sign the form. Olson said that would not prevent the application from going forward – the form merely gave the city notice of the application within the buffer zone, and the opportunity to comment on it. A city would not have the authority to deny an application, either through its comment or through inaction.

The new buffer zone application was also approved.

After the definition and form were approved, Olson said “This does not end our buffer zone discussion.”  Thompson seconded that sentiment. He pointed out that in the future, some coordination between city ordinances and county ordinances would have to take place, to account of the situation where an applicant in a buffer zone requested county approval where the city had requested changes that the applicant did not want to make.

Thompson said that cities should have some say over how the development around their borders takes place, and this was especially true in the case of smaller, 1 and 2-lot subdevelopments. Commissioner Leon Day pointed out that continued approval of small subdivisions around cities would continue to frustrate annexation plans and stymy the cities’ growth.