Approximately 50 or 60 interested residents of Kane County filled the commission chambers to overflowing with standing room only. The scheduled Land Use Authority Meeting as a “Public Hearing” was to consider adopting the Kane County Zoning Adjustment Ordinance.

Chairman Jim Baker brought the meeting to order and explained, they were not able to secure the required quorum and would not be able to conduct any agenda business. An informal meeting will be held instead, and then closed the official meeting. It was the shortest Land Use Authority meeting on record, lasting just 50 seconds.

Baker began the informal meeting stating, “It is very nice to see this many people interested in land use all at once and in one room, it’s never happened before.”

A proposed “Adjustment Ordinance” was the topic of discussion, as the document had created a great deal of concern, particularly within the agricultural community. Baker said members of the appointed Land Use Authority had not even seen the proposed ordinance before it was made available to the public, and both he and the commission members were still trying to understand it. 

Baker said they (the Land Use Authority) wanted to recognize and identify the problem areas within the ordinances for correction, and part of the rebuilding process should incorporate public “work meetings.”

By working together to resolve those problems we, the Land Use Authority, can build a better understanding of the public’s concerns and will have a “better idea of what needs to be fixed”.

Baker stated some of the recent changes made to the land use ordinance came as a result of legislative changes to The Land Use Development and Management Act (LUDMA) at the state level. Baker said, “It took about 18 months to accomplish.” Public notices for the work meetings were posted as required. Baker said he didn’t think anyone had come forth and said the ordinance is not perfect, and it is not set in stone. “I believe the ordinance is here to satisfy the people, the people are not here to satisfy the ordinance.”

Baker went further saying there are things that can be fixed and that is why the members of the Land Use Authority were here tonight to hear the concerns: A: to fix the ordinance, and B: if there is a level of misunderstanding that needs to be addressed, they will try and do that to the best of their abilities.      

Baker referred to the confusion in the use table comparison list that was recently released. “It was an attempt to show the differences in the allowed uses in the old zoning designations and densities and what it is now.”

Baker admitted there were obvious and glaring mistakes contained in it that may have added to the confusion and misunderstanding. In his opinion it may not have been ready to go to a public hearing. Baker stated he would like to take the comparison table “off the table” for this discussion, as it would only add to the confusion. There was some question as to what the “P” on the comparison table indicates. It was explained the “P” stands for a permitted use, not that a permit is required.

Baker also had some concerns about the validity of the Kane County Zoning Adjustment Ordinances, “if it is not working for us, then it needs to be re-visited.”

The commission members and staff available to answer questions and concerns: were Chairman Jim Baker, Ex-Officio Kane County Commissioner Daniel Hulet, Roger Chamberlain, Land Use Authority Administrator Gary Smith, and County Building Official Ryan Maddux.

Questions were mainly on how the change to zoning would affect the taxes, changing Agricultural Zone from A10 to Recreation REC-R-9. According to Baker and Maddux, changing the “zoning,” does not change the taxable value.

Property taxes are based on the market value of the property on January 1 of the current year. Your County Assessor determines market value (as stated on the back of the tax bill).

Kane County Assessor Linda Little explained the “Agricultural” use of land is very complex. The Utah Farmland Assessment Act (FAA, also called the Greenbelt Act) allows qualifying agricultural property to be assessed and taxed based upon its productive capability, instead of the prevailing market value. Little stated this is a very complicated issue working with different codes and statutes. She said she would be more than willing to answer any questions on these issues. Call the Assessors Office at 644-2647

An audience member voiced his concern that the 2010 ordinances have become more restrictive than in past years, leaning towards less land uses and more restrictions. He requested agricultural property allowed be a minimum of nine acres.

Commissioner Hulet explained zoning issues versus the use of the property and available water. He referred to the 1998 Kane County General Plan, which is the Land Use Authority’s guide, stating the strategy is: “Keep minimum allowable densities in unincorporated zoning districts at one unit per 10 acres.”

Hulet said when the LUA was working on the ordinances, there was very little input from the public. He said due to the lack of input, “They (the public) were not opposed to any of these changes.” Hulet said the reason for this informal meeting re: The Kane County Zoning Adjustment Ordinance is due to the public’s opposition to its contents. He said “we are looking for help and assistance from folks in the public to devise an ordinance we can all live with.”

There was a question of understanding the various definitions of the new zones.

The ordinance states: All legally subdivided lots and/or parcels in the zoning categories identified below shall be, and hereby are, re-zoned. Purposed changes are as follows: (1) Agricultural –A- (10 acres minimum up to 34 acres) is changed to “Rec-R-9 and or Rec-R-18.” (2) Residential Zone--RE-1 is changed to “R-1/2 up to 1.99 acres.” (3) RE-9 is changed to “Rec-R-9 up to 17.99 acres.” (4) Commercial C- is changed to “C-1.” (5) Light Manufacturing Zone—M-1, Heavy Manufacturing—M-2, is changed to “All newly created M-1 and M-2 parcels now fall under the new Land Use Ordinance.” (6) Forest Recreation-Residential Zone –FR-1/2 and FR-1 is changed to “R-1/2 up to 1.99 acres.” (7) FR-5 is changed to “R-5.” (8) FR-10 is changed to “Rec-R-9.” (9) FR-20 is changed to “Rec-R-18.” (10) FR-40 is changed to “Rec-R-36.” 

An audience member commented that the land areas of the county are very complex. You have to handle each area in its own right. You cannot generalize and make one end separate to satisfy the other side. Hulet said that was something to be considered when writing the ordinances.

Bruce Bunting, from Farm Bureau, suggested the entire ordinance be done away with and start all over again. Baker said it is not practical to just toss the whole ordinance, and stated a better approach might be to take the sections most objectionable to the agricultural community and work on those first, and to get them done as soon as possible. He acknowledged ultimately it would be the county commissioner’s final decision.

Baker asked if Farm Bureau would take an active role in representing the interests of the agricultural community in the rewriting process. Bunting answered in the affirmative. Baker thanked Bunting for his offer and welcomed his input.

This informal meeting gave the citizens an opportunity to voice their concerns and make comments and suggestions.

The Kane County Land Use Authority meets at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. Notices are put in the legal section of the Southern Utah News. Meetings are held in the County Commissioner Chambers at the County Courthouse.

Members of the public can contact Shannon McBride, Secretary of the Land Use Authority, and request to be put on e-mail notification, shannon.mcbride@use.edu, or by calling her at 644-4966.

The Land Use Authority office is located at 180 West 300 North, Kanab. The Assessor’s office is in the same building.