Southern Utah News Articles
Commissioners deny zoning change in Johnson Canyon
At the March 26, Kane County Commission meeting, Commissioner Dirk Clayson was not in attendance. The meeting began with public comment regarding a zone change to Johnson Canyon Parcel #3-5-24-3A, a 67-acre piece of land owned by David Little, to be sold to J.T. Maxwell. The zone change would be from agricultural to commercial. The change would allow Maxwell to use the land for a camping area for his business, Grand Classroom Outdoor Adventure Company.
Eric Retterbush, Maxwell’s representative, explained that Grand Classroom is a for-profit student travel company. Its services are sold to schools to run themed field trips for students; one might emphasize history, for example, and another science. Students visit national parks, take hikes, and while they usually stay in hotels, for one or two nights they camp. Large tents are set up, teachers and chaperones are with the students at a 1:8 ratio. Group size is between 15 and 50. The land in question would be used for these camp nights.
The reason for the zone change complicates the situation. Last December, the county changed the land use definitions for campgrounds to be allowed only in commercial zones; previously camping was allowed in agricultural zones. Public comment from those who live in Johnson Canyon ran heavily against the zone change. Few of those comments were against the student program, as it was generally believed this is beneficial to young people. The disagreement was about allowing any parts of upper Johnson Canyon to be zoned commercial. Gail Dvorak, echoing the thoughts of many, felt that once commercial zoning was allowed in the area, it would set a precedent to allow more commercial zoning. She said, “this would negatively impact other owners’ rights and we depend on the Planning and Zoning commissioners to protect us against these kinds of changes.”
Tom Laughlin said, “I think this is a good program. I wish there were a way to do this without going commercial.”
County Attorney Rob Van Dyke said zoning laws say there has to be a good reason to change zones. The question of whether just a portion of a piece of property can be zoned one way, and the rest another, was raised. Ultimately, the county commissioners voted, as did the County Planning and Zoning Commission in an earlier consideration, to deny the zone change. This action will send the question back to the Planning and Zoning Commission to see if there is a way to create a win-win solution without commercial zoning.
In the second agenda item, three new members were approved and added to the Resource Development Committee. They are Tony Chelewski, Danny Little and Hal Hamblin.
Next, Lou Pratt discussed plans for the 2018 chip seal improvements to county roads. Bids will soon go out for adding two new box culverts in Vermilion Cliffs prior to adding chip seal to the roads there, and also new chip seal for Hancock Road shoulders and lower Kanab Canyon Road. Once those bids are in, the county budget will be opened and the funds will be established to do the work.
In Item 4, Kane County Resolution R-2018-5 was adopted to approve increasing the Lot Joinder fee from $500 to $700, which therefore eliminates the $10 per mailer fee on an application.
Item 5 approved a zone change from Residential-1 to Agricultural for owner Joseph K. Stansfield. This change will apply for all of lot 125-51 in the New Paria subdivision.
The last item was presented by County Clerk Karla Johnson. It was a general review of the legal process and requirements for applying county property tax abatements for indigent and disabled people. The Utah State Tax Commission has the standards that must apply, and Standard 3.8.0 defines what qualifies for an indigent abatement. This presentation was given to remind and teach how the county clerk makes decisions whether to grant or deny abatement requests. The clerk then presents all requests to the county commissioners for approval. Currently, tax abatements in Kane County amount to .0014 percent of all property taxes.