Last Friday, April 15, the Taxpayer Association of Kane County filed a Petition for Review with the Sixth District Court in Kane County, Utah, challenging the City of Kanab zoning approvals to California-based Viresco Energy LLC. Viresco wants to construct and operate a coal gasification plant inside the city limits of Kanab.

This court filing is in response to Kanab City’s rejection of an administrative appeal submitted directly to Kanab City on February 28. 

In responding to this earlier appeal, Kanab City did not address any of the issues contained in the administrative appeal, but simply denied it, based on the Kanab Land Use Ordinance rule requiring appeals to be filed within 10 days of a final decision by the city on zoning issues.

The team of attorneys working on behalf of the Taxpayer Association are appealing the city’s rejection of their earlier appeal based on Utah regulations and case law that allows for the consideration of appeals beyond the submission deadline when cities do not adequately inform local residents of their zoning decisions, and when cities do not comply with land use policies and laws, both local and state.

Although Kanab Mayor Nina Laycook and other city officials have stated the city followed the rules to correctly inform the public, the Taxpayer Association attorneys are pointing out that this was not the case. The public notice used to inform people of the public hearing on Viresco Energy’s zoning change request failed to name the California energy company, but rather listed “Jim Guthrie” as the applicant. The public notice also failed to indicate the purpose of the zoning change was to build a coal gasification plant.  

The Kanab City Council also failed to provide a public hearing before approving Viresco Energy’s General Plan Amendment, while the application clearly states a public hearing is required before such approval.

Kanab City also failed to comply with its own land use policy with regard to the zone change. The Application for Zone change states, “an Application for General Plan Amendment will be required to be submitted and approved prior to submitting a Zone Change Request.” But in fact, Viresco submitted its application for the zoning change for the proposed coal gasification plant before the city approved the change of the Kanab General Plan.  

In addition to listing deficiencies in Kanab City’s approval procedures, the appeal points out a number of problems with Viresco Energy LLC’s Zoning Change and General Plan Amendment Applications and their coal gasification plant Development Plan.

Last, but not least, the District Court Appeal by the Taxpayer Association refers to an e-mail written by Viresco Energy LLC President Jim Guthrie, in which he stated the City of Kanab agreed to “fast track” the zoning approvals for his coal gasification project, further highlighting the concerns of the Taxpayer Association that Kanab City’s General Plan and zoning approvals were erroneous and failed to provide for adequate public input.   

“The City of Kanab should not ignore its own regulations, its written procedures, and the concerns of its citizens to the benefit of a California corporation that wants to industrialize an area of our town that is zoned for residential use,” stated Sky Chaney, President of the Taxpayer Association.