Forty-three people filled the audience at the December 11 Kanab City Council meeting. The two agenda items that drew the most comments from the public were regarding changes to the Multi-Family Residential (RM) Zone. Mayor Robert Houston conducted the meeting with all council members present.

A work meeting, which consisted of a presentation of results of the FY 2017-18 City Audit, preceded the business meeting. Steve Palmer, representing the St. George firm HintonBurdick, PLLC, summarized the audit in a PowerPoint presentation. The city received a “clean opinion” on the financial statements, one weakness with the city’s compliance with internal controls over financial reporting, and two instances of non-compliance with state laws.

“The financial department is doing a great job!” said Palmer. The full audit can be viewed on the city website at kanab.utah.gov, click on Documents-Administration-Financial Statements.

Financially, the city appears to be doing well, with over $18M in equity. The city was able to purchase a new dump truck and the Lost Highway property across from the Ranchos entrance on Hwy 89A this fiscal year. The Lost Highway property will be used to construct a safer turn lane into 1100 South with the metal building to be moved onto other city property.

At the conclusion of the auditor’s presentation, the mayor congratulated Joe Decker and the staff for a job well done, and then opened the business portion of the meeting.

The Public Comment period started with numerous remarks on the possible changes to the zoning ordinance setting the minimum size of a unit in the RM zone at 500 sq. ft. Bart Battista of Best Friends and Colette Cox, representing the Chamber of Commerce, each expressed the problems caused by the lack of housing for employees and urged the city council to move on the issue. Diana Hawkins had concerns about how lowering the size standards would effect neighboring property values, with Mike and Lisa Church wondering about septic system issues and limited access creating safety concerns in the Ranchos. Other comments from the crowd echoed the need for more affordable housing.

Wendell Head inquired, “Are there any known proposed developments that are the inspiration for this change?” The mayor responded “There is talk, but no one has actually come in and applied for anything.”

City Attorney Jeff Stott explained, “We “think” it’s 720 sq. ft, but legally there is no minimum, so we need to set something or we could be challenged on this. That was the root of this change.”

The city has been using the 720 sq. ft. minimum unit size for the KCR zone as the minimum citywide for some time. It had never been officially designated as such in the ordinances.

The mayor then closed the Public Comment period and moved onto the next agenda item, which was a vote to accept the FY 2017-18 Audit. The council voted unanimously to do so.

Next was a brief discussion regarding J.D Wright’s subdivision of his lot, at 932 South Hillside Drive, into two parcels. The vote was unanimous to allow the subdivision.

The council then revisited the new Application Requirements for Chapter 18, Multi-Family Residential (RM) zones, that had been discussed at the previous council meeting. The new ordinance language would allow the city to require a site plan and written description of proposed plans for any zone change to RM. It was made clear that these requirements would not apply to zones already designated for Multi-Family.

Council members Kershaw, Yates, Chamberlain and East spoke in favor of the requirements and the additional wording added from their suggestions at the previous meeting. The additional wording clarifies what details are required in the proposed plan and what sort of subsequent changes would constitute a “significant change” triggering the plan to be reconsidered.

“Requiring a conceptual drawing of what they (a developer) wants to do will allow the Planning Commission and City Council to make a decision taking in consideration the impacts on the neighbors and the neighborhoods,” said Councilman Brent Chamberlain.

Council member Celeste Meyeres spoke at length in opposition to the ordinance. “I feel this is an extra step, more meetings, more bureaucracy, more hurdles to put in front of developers.” The Mayor then called for a motion and vote. The ordinance was passed with four ayes and Meyeres voting nay.

The final item returned the discussion to the 500 sq.ft. minimum for a single unit in the Multi-Family Zone. The entire council spoke in recognition of the need for more affordable housing in the city.

“I’m comfortable with the 500 sq.ft. if it’s a 4-plex or greater, maybe a tri-plex or greater, but a duplex or single home I’d like to keep at 720,” said Councilman Jeff Yates

Chamberlain and Kershaw supported this with East emphasizing the need for affordable housing for families with children and not just singles. Meyeres favored 500 sq.ft. for every unit, including single homes and duplexes. The discussion went back and forth but finally a motion was made to set the minimum sq. footage at 500 for tri-plexes or larger and 720 for single homes, duplexes and twin homes. All were in favor except Michael East who voted nay.

Meeting was adjourned.