Work on sports park going well; officials eager
MANTI—Construction is progressing nicely on the future Manti City Sports Complex, even despite the fact that until last week the city did not have a permit to do work on a portion of the sports-park site that is in Sanpete County’s jurisdiction.
“Construction is proceeding as planned — no surprises or delays,” said Manti City Manager Kent Barton.
It will still be the better part of a year before play can take place on the fields-to-be but, Barton said, “We are super excited with the progress that is taking place, as you now see the backstops rising and can start to gain a vision of how the complex will be set up.”
So excited, in fact, that the city may have jumped the gun a little bit by going forward with work on a portion of the site that, though owned by the city, has not yet been annexed and is therefore still subject to Sanpete County land-use regulations.
That means the city needed a conditional-use permit from the Sanpete County Planning Commission — a permit it did not receive until Wednesday, July 19, several weeks after work had commenced.
“They were so anxious to get moving on it that they forgot the procedure,” said Sanpete County Zoning Administrator Scott Olsen.
The sports-complex project involved land deals and exchanges between several owners and entities. Through those, Manti did come to acquire all ownership of the property it needed, but the city didn’t annex any property it did not already own.
On June 7, Manti City officials requested a building permit from the county. Olsen looked at the plans for the site. About 18.6 acres of the property falls outside of Manti city limits.
“That was the first I had seen how it was laid out in the count,” Olsen said.
The zoning for the area is residential-agricultural; recreational facilities are not a permitted use in that zone, so Manti needed a conditional-use-permit.
By that time, though, the city was already almost six weeks into the project, having broken ground on it on April 28.
Olsen says he told Manti officials, “Hey, you guys are out of line here,” and told them they needed the conditional-use permit.
On Tuesday, Olsen said he recognized that most folks would wonder what the big deal was. “You’re talking ballfield use,” he said. “What impact does it really have? I don’t know that it has a lot of impact. I just felt that it needed to be there … then the requirements of our ordinances are met, so that nobody comes back to me and says, ‘Why didn’t you?’”
Manti City recognized the error, and dutifully fulfilled its obligation to the county to get the permit, which Olsen called “a formality.”
Olsen agreed that it really is a case of no-harm no-foul. But, he said, “In reality, the city should have had already in place annexation processes. It would have made it less complicated.”
Manti’s Barton agreed it would have been easier in one respect, but that “It wasn’t a big deal to go through the permitting.”
A bigger deal, he indicated, would have been an annexation. “Annexation is a process that takes quite a bit of time, so we didn’t want to wait on the project while that happened.”
He added, however, that, “At some point, we’ll look at annexing. That’s our plan.”
In the meantime, the complex’s five baseball fields have been formed and topsoil applied; footings for the batter’s box backstops have been formed and poles erected; foundation footings and utility infrastructure has been installed for the concessions building; curb and gutter for parking lots have been installed; the sprinkler system is nearly completed; and electrical lines have been put in place for lighting and scoreboards.
“We are still hoping to plant the grass in September,” Manti’s Barton said, “and then the fields will need to be rested for a year before play occurs in order to allow the grass to become firmly established.”
Though it took some work and negotiating to consolidate the site (Manti Mayor Korry Soper once described it as “a miracle” that it all came together), city officials are looking forward to some big aesthetic dividends.
“We couldn’t be happier with the setting we selected for the facility,” Barton said. “It will be very accessible and visible, and offers great views of the mountains, temple and surrounding area.”