Southern Utah News Articles
Citizen's Initiative to go to vote
The Kanab City Council voted four to one to put the question of whether or not the citizens of Kanab favor the building of Viresco Energy’s prototype coal hydro-gasification plant within the city limits on the November 2012 general election ballot.
Earlier discussions pointed toward voting on an ordinance at that time to decide if voters wanted to have the Viresco question placed on the municipal election ballot in November 2013. Since no formal action was taken on this path, the council did not have to rescind any action and could proceed directly to a vote on the issue this November.
Councilman Ed Meyer made the motion saying, “I’m not saying I’m for or against Jim Guthrie’s plant, but what I am saying is that letting this issue boil in Kanab for another year will foster more pain, arguments, fighting and bickering among our citizens. The general election this fall promises to bring out the most voters to answer this very important question.”
Councilman Kirt Carpenter added, “This citizens initiative is a Constitutional right in the State of Utah and we have an obligation as a city council to put this question up to a vote in a forthright manner and get it done so we can move on down the road.”
Councilman Joe B. Wright supported Resolution 3-2-12 saying, “We want to truly see how the citizens of Kanab feel about this issue and this November’s elections will bring the most people to the polls.”
Councilwoman Cheryl Brown also voted for the resolution, while Councilman Jim Sorensen voted against it. Over the next months, residents will have opportunities to garner information pertinent to making an informed decision in the privacy of a voting booth on Nov. 6, 2012 as to their preference regarding the Viresco plant.
In a related issue of appealing Conditional Use Permits (CUP) in the future, City Manager Duane Huffman outlined proposed changes to the process. These were presented, but not acted upon. Wright said at the end of the lengthy presentation, “This is much bigger than I had anticipated and I need more time to read through it again before I can make a decision in this matter.” The rest of the council agreed and tabled it until the next council meeting April 10.
However, the highlights of these changes will be described briefly for those interested in the subject. If a party wishes to challenge a CUP issued by the city, it must be done within 10 business days of the date it was issued, with at least an outline of the reasons for the appeal, along with an appeal fee. The appellant will have another 10 days to formalize and present all the challenge arguments to the city. A party not originally involved in the appeal will have the right to join in that appeal if they make a valid argument as to why they should be allowed to join.
The city can then act on the merits of the appeal alone or, if it feels necessary, can refer it to the city’s appeals officer or another appeal authority. The appellant needs to exhaust all administrative avenues before taking it to district court.
The permit holder can chose to relinquish his permit at the time of the appeal, resubmit it with changes or defend it and the city can join in that defense, if it chooses to do so. The city can also choose to defend it alone on merits it decides, or pull out of it if the applicant doesn’t want to proceed with it. The applicant would bear all expenses if they fight the appeal alone.
Again, if CUP appeals are confusing to the council, can they be clear to the general public? Your voice can be heard by the council during the public comment period of the council meetings, provided they are pertinent and delivered in a respectful manner, and not used as a forum to berate others with differing opinions.
During the work session, Brown proposed relocating the city’s skateboard park from behind the Heritage Museum building to a 50X100 ft. pad west of the pool at Jacob Hamblin Park. Noting ongoing safety issues at the present location and possible conflicts with events at the new Performing Arts Center when completed, the council wholly supported this move.
The concern for those citizens making comments were for the youth using the skate park now and how important it is for their well being. Karen Kelly, who works with youth in the schools, stated she could provide 50-100 students to help move the infrastructure to the new location in a timely manner. “Students using the park would be very critical of closing the park for a long period of time, but if they knew it would be relatively short, they would be much more understanding,” said Kelly.
It was estimated the cost to move the pad and fencing would be $7200, but more likely with upgrades be between $10,000-15,000. Jim Walls suggested they make the new skate park a showcase skate park.
Discussion proceeded to advertisements on ballpark fences to increase revenue for baseball programs. There were a number of questions surrounding this proposal, which may require a change in the land use ordinance to allow ads, which would involve the planning commission and a public hearing. The issue will require further research.
The job description for the Park and Recreation Director was approved and is briefly described as supporting and coordinating recreational activities. The person will be a city employee since the position does not fit the mold of an independent contractor (1099) arrangement. The salary for this position will be an addition to the Park and Rec’s current budget of $333,000, and it was decided to factor that into next fiscal year’s budget. No hiring will occur until August.
In discussing the park budget expenses, Sorensen summed it up by saying, “The city must decide if we are willing to fund all of these expenses or not.”
The Kanab City budget is projected to have a general fund balance of $289,000 at the end of fiscal year 2013 and $185,000 at the end of fiscal year 2014, which prompted a discussion of expense controls by department heads.
One method would be to require a certain percentage cut from all departments, with anything above that having to be justified in some fashion. Meyer said the department heads should identify their base budget to determine fixed versus variable costs. Sorensen added that departments need to prioritize service.
Kelly Stowell of CEBA announced the Kane County Business Summit on April 17 at 6 p.m. and on April 18 at 8 a.m. at Stampin’ Up!