RICHFIELD—Utah’s population is expected to grow by two-thirds and the number of households in Utah is expected to double to 2.2 million by 2060, the Six County Association of Governments announced at the Regional Growth Summit held in Richfield on May 10.
The annual meeting discusses growth issues in Juab, Millard, Piute, Sevier, Wayne, as well as Sanpete counties.
A bill requiring that cities meter secondary water, HB 242, which passed in the Utah Legislature this year, gives cities until 2030 to update their infrastructure.
Cameron Diehl, executive director of Utah the League of Cities and Towns (ULCT), led the legislative update break-out session and strongly encouraged cities to apply for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as soon as possible to help pay for the metering upgrade. The federal funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
A combination of ARPA grant funds and a loan applied for this year will cover 70% of costs. But the amount covered will drop to 65% next year until the funds are exhausted, he said.
Diehl explained that medium-to-large cities in Utah are experiencing a 20% reduction in water usage by simply installing secondary water meters.
But smaller, rural cities are having a different experience. A cost-benefit analysis done by ULCT after the legislation passed indicates that the upfront cost of the infrastructure may take longer for smaller towns to pay off.
Fifth- or sixth-class counties are exempted from complying with the HB 242, but Sanpete, a fourth-class county, is not. The burden of installing secondary meters is proportionately larger in the county’s small cities, such as Sterling and Centerfield, than in larger cities in the county and around the state.
The ULCT is paying attention to see if an amendment in next year’s legislative session is warranted to address the unequal burden of HB242 on small communities, Diehl said.
What people are calling “glamping” has become an issue in several counties lately. “Glamorous camping” is presently trending as an alternative to living in an established residence, often in response to the rising costs of rent or purchasing a home.
Campers with recreational vehicles (RVs), vans or camper trailers parked for extended periods of time should be in RV parks that have water and sewer disposal stations. But cities had questions about zoning and fire safety.
Cities are able to charge impact fees associated with water, power and sewer services provided to RV parks, said Meg Ryan, UCLT senior land use manager, who led the break-out session about glamping. She recommends that a formal impact fee study be carried out first to determine an appropriate rate.
Although RV-park residents who have been there for years may not be subject to newer ordinances, the city can respond to emerging problems based on health and safety concerns, she said.
For example, individual lots at RV parks have traditionally been permitted to be close together, but because the vehicles are extremely flammable, some cities have talked about requiring the parks to space the RVs further apart. In addition, municipalities can require that water storage be maintained at RV parks, especially those far away from other services, to help fight fires.
Garfield County has passed a glamping ordinance that is available on its website. Wayne County is also experiencing a serious glamping problem because of the national parks in the area.
Tiny homes are another issue cities and counties are dealing with in response to the current economy. Ryan said that municipalities can develop their own zoning and building regulations. Tiny homes may need more inspections than conventional homes and should be built on permanent foundations. And a minimum size needs to be established.
Homes being built with IBCs (international building containers), especially stacking three on top of each other, is another alternative to traditional homes or condos that cities are seeing. One municipal administrator in the audience said that if a recycled IBC had been used previously to ship hazardous materials, it is not safe for human habitation and can make people sick.
Officials in the break-out session seemed to agree that high-density housing is a more prevalent than these alternative home types.
A majority of civil claims municipalities deal with involve denial of conditional-use permits and rezoning requests, said Johnnie Miller, chief executive officer for the Utah Counties Indemnity Pool, who led the risk management break-out session.
He reviews all Utah-based court cases that involve municipalities. In the last five years, he said, there has been a drop-off in suits because ordinances are better written.
Cities are required to approve conditional-use permits if an applicant qualifies, Miller said. A city’s land-use administrator must be impartial and not be swayed by what he called “public clamor,” but rely instead on information applicants provide in a public meeting on the record.
Miller also explained that the cost of one claim is, on average, about $25,000, so if a city’s insurance only covers a maximum legal payout of $50,000 per year, that only covers two claims. He recommended speaking with an insurance agent to get a better estimate on a city’s coverage needs.
Intentional acts committed by a city administrator are not covered by insurance, Miller warned.