STERLING—The town of Sterling, with support from a community planner with Jones & Demille Engineering, is creating a new general plan, replacing one that has not been updated for 28 years.
The town will also be rewriting many of its planning and subdivision ordinances to make them consistent with the plan and make them comply with state law.
The current plan was last revised in 1994, and there have been many state and county law changes between then and now, says Mike Hansen, planning director for Jones & Demille.
Last year, the town, under the direction of former Sterling Mayor Randall Cox, approached Jones & DeMille and asked for help revising the plan. But what began as a revision has turned into development of a new original plan, he says.
“You need a custom solution, but it still needs to be specific enough to address current state law and best practice for land development,” Hansen says.
Members of the town council, and planning and zoning committee, began talking about a new plan in March of 2021; however, the effort didn’t get serious until October, 2021.
“Sterling is no different than most towns its size throughout the state,” Hansen said. “But it has more development potential and pressure than other parts of the state.“
According to Hansen, Sanpete County is becoming a “spillover” area for the Wasatch Front. More people are willing to commute from the county to other parts of the state for work. The COVID-19 pandemic is an additional factor, with more individuals exploring work-fromhome options.
Now, the town council, the planning and zoning committee, and a separate general plan steering committee is starting to put substance into a general plan “template.”
Hansen summed up the plan process in four steps. Step one includes gathering existing documents and plans, codes, ordinances and issues brought up by the community.
“Sterling, like many town plans, had a plan that was just antiquated. It wasn’t detailed, didn’t match state statue, (and) the town has changed a lot since then,” Hansen said.
The second step was to reach out to the community and see what residents wanted and needed.
The third step was to develop a draft of the plan and get it out to the community. The plan is currently available and viewable through a Google Documents link. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1i9d0OtljmgEzmuMo4glZbThdSxrsg94f7Egl8nz1aPI/edit
The document allows the public to enter comments and suggestions. Additional paper copies are available at the town hall.
The current draft is 49 pages, including maps and appendices. The land use ordinances, or Title XIII, is 47 pages. The town council and Hansen have tried to shrink down the plan as much as possible, simplifying everything they can.
“It’s absolutely incredible the way they have designed this where people can go in there and leave comments,” Mayor Keenan Pearson said. “The work Jones and DeMille has done to make sure this is community-friendly, even for people who can’t make it to the meetings, is absolutely incredible.“
The town is still in this third step, revising and making suggestions for the final draft. There is no deadline for these revisions, as Pearson says the planning and zoning committee and steering committee are still combing through it.
While revisions continue, the council keeps the following vision statement in mind:
“The Town of Sterling is a small community that values its heritage and is united in its efforts to maintain a safe, clean, healthy, economically diverse and attractive environment. It will be a friendly community that strives to be affordable and sustainable.”
“It’s critical for folks to know, when it comes to initiatives like this, cities need to first articulate the vision, the intent,” Hansen said. “Once that’s in place, then they can go and start making rules. You just can’t have those two things be out of alignment.”
The final step will be the distribution of the revised copy and adoption of the plan. Under state law, the Sterling planning and zoning committee is required to hold a public hearing before sending the plan to the town council for adoption.
There is no deadline for the adoption of the plan, but Pearson hopes it will be in the next few months.