Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for June 15, 2011
Roads, mining and navigable rivers discussed at commission work meeting
Commissioner Jim Matson, along with Pam Hill and Jim Rasmussem, updated the commission on the Arizona Strip Mining and Energy Withdrawal. The public comment closed on the EIS May 4. There were over 300,000 comments.
The BLM is receiving a lot of pressure from environmental groups. Secretary of Interior Salazar is being briefed on a preferred alternative, but it is not in the draft. Once Salazar decides on the alternative, there will be another 30-day public comments.
Hill said they have a strong case if litigated. She continued that public companies are caught in never-never land, and their stockholders want answers to all of the delays. They hope to start mining July 21.
The commission discussed Army Corps 404 permits, and how the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers has changed. It was jurisdiction of navigable waters. It has expanded to dry and unnavigable stream beds.
The State of Utah and Kane County are both opposed to this expansion of jurisdiction.
“Every valley is under their jurisdiction and it has become an environmental tool to stop and inhibit progress,” said Kane County Attorney Jim Scarth. He added that the state encourages the county to fight the Army Corps of Engineers and to get a NEXUS analysis.
County Treasurer Georgia Baca gave an update on tax revenue and delinquent taxes. Currently Kane County delinquent taxes are $795,255.08. This includes personal property, boats motor vehicles, and penalties and interest.
Kevin Raines, spokesman for the Long Valley Estates, expressed their concern regarding roads in their subdivision. They feel they paid for good aggregate before the Water Conservancy District dug it up for water lines.
“Now we are back to square one,” said Raines. Culverts fill, and the road is in poor condition. He had two bags to demonstrate aggregate prior to and following improvements.
Commissioner Doug Heaton said the county policy is to maintain for summer access only. “When you move to the country, you can’t expect city services. There is not enough population base. Our policy is to protect the taxpayer. We do road maintenance, not improvements. Residents bear the cost of infrastructure improvements.”
In response to Raines recommendation that fire hydrants were put in, and therefore there should be access during the winter, Commissioner Dirk Clayson said no one in the county pays for snow removal.
Regarding the road to the water tank, Kane County Road Supervisor Bert Harris said that road is not on the B road system. Therefore, the county cannot maintain it unless it is on the system. That is a misappropriation of funds.
The county and Long Valley Estates residents will also check with the Water Conservancy District on damaged roads, culvert and access issues.
Shannon McBride, Tony Cheleweski and Byard Kershaw discussed the new draft copy of proposed additions to the Land Use General Plan. They have worked with the Five County Association of Governments and have had public input. One issue of discussion was the division of 14 districts, with representatives for each district. Heaton said they desired a policy loose enough to accommodate the entire county.
Clayson added that location should not change the ordinance, however 14 layers of government is increased government. The commissioner made several suggestions with the goal of less and not more government.
One positive note of the SITLA land sales is that private land in Kane County has risen from 4% to 7.3%.
The commissioners are still working on structure and format for commission meetings. The goal is for ways to have public input without violating the law.
Jacob Hamblin Days have been cancelled due to equine herpes. Two cases have been reported in Utah, one in Kane County and one in Weber County. The Jacob Hamblin Committee requested a carryover of the $4,000 committed this year and asked that it be re-budgeted for next year.
Originally, the county donated the $4,000 with the understanding they are on their own for next year. The commissioners expressed hope this equine quarantine will pass without affecting future holiday celebrations, the county fair and Western Legends Round-up.
Julie Ingersoll, USU Extension, updated the commission on the USU master plan which is not to replace the 4-H agent in Kane County full time for three years. Ingersoll proposed that Kane County give $5,000 and USU match to fund a part-time position. The commissioners will consider. Heaton said he does see the value of the program.
Chris Odekerken is proposing a road closure on Glendale Bench. He wants to close the road where his property begins and said there are no property owners involved who oppose. He is willing to give access to anyone who needs it and understands BLM would have to agree.
Clayson indicated it has not been county practice to abandon a road leading to BLM lands and the county has RS2477 documentation. Odekerken said there has been vandalism and safety issues. The commission will investigate with State SITLA, BLM and historical use. Odekerken said when the commission decides, then “we will decide what to do.”
The road department needs some new equipment and will take advantage of state surplus sales. All is within their budget.
Bert Harris reported the county has a chance to save money on gravel and get it for $5 a ton if the county signs a contract for a minimum of 20,000 tons. It is a great price, but not budgeted. The contractor will not be here next year. They are already set up for another job at the Alton turnoff. Harris will check into details.
Dave Owens updated the commission on the Salary Survey. He wants to wrap it up. “Job descriptions are part of the hold-up. We need to accept the document from Mike Swallow and continue with committee and get this done,” said Owens.