SPRING CITY—Spring City leaders continue to deliberate on a slew of proposed changes to the town’s planning and zoning ordinances, changes that prompted vocal opposition at a public hearing last month.
At the hearing on Aug. 4, Spring City Planning and Zoning Chairman Craig Paulson detailed the proposed modifications and gave the public opportunity to comment. And comment they did.
“So many of the things we are talking about have come to light because of issues the planning and zoning (commission) has been dealing with,” Mayor Chris Anderson said at the outset of the meeting. “Things that weren’t clear or consistent. So we want to address some of those issues.”
Anderson explained that Paulson would introduce each ordinance modification separately. City ordinance Titles 3,9,10 and 11 were all proposed for modification.
“As the mayor said, we want to eliminate some of the ambiguities in the code,” Paulson told the attendees.
He started with Title 3 where proposed changes centered on new rules for the ap- proval of new businesses in Spring City. The core of the changes, Paulson explained, was the addition of a process of asking adjacent lot owners, or “neighbors,” to essentially cast a vote on whether they approved of a new business.
In the case of home businesses, the modification actually requires approval of a majority of neighbors before the business can be permitted. But the changes also stipulate the city can throw out frivolous “no” votes that have no merit or backing.
The vote approval process would apply, with some variation, to businesses in the commercial zone as well, except approval by a majority of neighbors would not necessarily be required to operate.
Some residents spoke out against the rule harshly. “This is totally unconstitutional,” said Lawrence Gardner. “You’re setting yourself up here for a good lawsuit. When you are giving someone else a right over someone’s sovereign property, you are being unconstitutional, and you are breaking the law. “
Other attendees echoed his dissent, with a woman calling the change “inappropriate” and a danger to the potential development of business in the city.
Still another local business owner said she felt her rights to use her business property in the way she wanted had been “steadily erod- ed” since moving to Spring City.
Former councilman and Sanpete County Planning and Zoning Committee member Cody Harmer joined the meeting via zoom, and explained that he felt giving approval power to residents adjacent to a commercial zone makes the entire concept of commercial zoning pointless.
Meeting attendee Elizabeth Allred spoke up, saying she didn’t understand why the city felt the need to give neighbors so much power through an approval process.
The next topic was changes to Title 9, which were minor compared to the Title 3.
The changes focused on defining when a building permit would be required..
Under the proposed modification, the title reads, “A zoning permit shall not ordinarily be required for minor repairs or nominal changes to an existing structure necessary for maintenance of the property.
Examples are roofing, siding, windows and minor interior repairs and painting. Interior work such as structural work, electrical, mechanical and plumbing work requires a Sanpete County building permit.”
The other proposed change was the definition of a $200 fine for violations of the build- ing permitting ordinance.
Some attendees took issue with the language changes, saying they were worried about the definition of what and what does not require a building permit.
“If you put a patio on your building, you’re basically adding a change to your existing structure,” Kimberly Stewart said. She claimed people in Spring City had been harassed for changes because they in- volved pouring concrete. “Is that a normal change or not?” she asked.
Mayor Anderson spoke up saying the city was committed to reducing ambiguity regarding when permits are required.
The proposed amendments to Title 10 dealt primarily with restrictions on the use of recreational vehicles, such as trailers and campers, in city limits.
Under the changes, zoning permits to allow living in recreational vehicles will only be issued for periods up to 30 days. RVs may be used as guest accommodations for family reunions, holiday visitors and similar uses, or, alternatively, a zoning permit can be issued for up to one year for a resident living in a recreational vehicle while building a permanent home on their property. Failure to obtain a zoning permit to stay in such a vehicle will result in fines.
The proposed Title 10 changes also say the city can withdraw utilities and infra- structure for non-compliance with the proposed rules.
Anderson said the changes were proposed because the city thought there should be a limit on how long an RV or similar vehicle can be used as a residence on a property within city limits.
Another meeting attendee said he was worried his erratic travel and work schedule, which required him to drive an RV back and forth between Spring City and the Wasatch Front, would put him at odds with the proposed rule changes.
The proposed changes to Title 11 address three main topics. The first is placing language in the ordinance stating the city is not required to provide services and utilities to properties outside city limits, unless agreed to in writing by the city council after review by Planning and Zoning.
The second change related to subdivisions and stipulated that lots had to be 1.06 acres or larger. Preexisting lots that had been combined into a larger lot could be divided again so long as the resulting lots were no less than 1.06 acres.
In addition, any person proposing to divide and re-establish historical recorded lots must provide documentation of the historical property boundaries.
The Title 11 changes make clear no plat of land in the city can be subdivided, or divid- ed and sold, without going through the city’s subdivision process. The only exceptions would be lands divided and exchanged for convenience (such as shifting a boundary line). In such cases, the resulting modified parcels would still need to be in compliance with all planning-and-zoning requirements.
The final topic of the Title 11 changes is an adjustment to zoning ordinance that allows only one external guest building per property on residential properties. After discussing the proposed changes, several meeting attendees raised con- cern over the seemingly new restriction on guest buildings on commercial property.
Anderson closed the meeting by thanking the public for attending.
“We will try to take this all into account and move forward judiciously,” he said.