Southern Utah News Articles
Mayor Houston appoints Clarkson to Kanab City Planning Commission
Two agenda items dominated the November 27 Kanab City Council meeting, which lasted barely an hour. All council members and the mayor were in attendance.
During the Public Comment period of the meeting, resident Mary Beth Kuntz inquired about the status of the Best Friends motel project (old Four Seasons Inn) and whether the Kanab City Planning Commission member vacancy was advertised in the paper, as are openings for the Kane County Planning Commission. Mayor Robert Houston stated that the City Planning Commission vacancy was not advertised.
City Manager Joe Decker responded in regards to the Best Friends project, “It’s been approved, but they’re working on some final storm drain stuff to get their building permit. Once the building permit has been approved, they’ll start construction.”
Ms. Kuntz then asked, “Is there a timeline on that?”
Decker replied, “It’s all in how fast the negotiations (on the storm drain) go back and forth between each other (City staff and Best Friends). Right now the ball is in their court.”
After public comment was closed, the council moved on to the agenda item to appoint Ben Clarkson to the Kanab City Planning Commission with a term ending 12/31/2020. The mayor presented Clarkson to the council saying, “I’ve talked to Ben and I feel like he represents a segment of our population that needs representation and that’s the realtors.”
Clarkson’s nomination led into a discussion between council members and staff regarding conflicts of interest and when Planning Commission members should or should not recuse themselves.
Michael East started by asking Clarkson, “Would you feel an obligation to recuse yourself if a property – being subdivided, let’s say – is being represented by ERA?”
Clarkson responded, “Where I personally have an ownership interest? In some of those cases I think that would be inappropriate to vote on something I had an ownership in. I think if (the applicant) were a client of ERA – which may come up quite often – I’m not sure it would be helpful for the city’s position to be recused.”
City attorney Jeff Stott explained that members should recuse themselves if they can benefit financially from the approval or denial of an application or if they cannot be objective. “The gray area would be if you are part of a company and that company is somehow representing the client. For sure, I would probably tell anyone that they should recuse themselves if their company is representing the applicant. The question is whether that company just has side dealings with that applicant… that would really be a case by case (decision to recuse).”
Brent Chamberlain said he had just attended training where this issue was discussed. The advice there was to declare and make public the potential conflict. Stott added that a public official can actually be prosecuted if they do not declare a conflict of interest they could benefit financially from, especially when making administrative decisions.
After a few more comments on the issue, the council moved and voted unanimously to appoint Clarkson to the City Planning Commission.
The next and final agenda item was an addition to Chapter 18 (Multi-family Residential Zones) in the Land Use Ordinances. The new addition to the ordinance would allow Kanab City to require a site plan and written text describing the proposed project, including uses, building heights, density, phasing plans and landscaping when an applicant applies to change a zone to Multi-Family (RM). It would also require an additional public hearing and approval by the city before any significant change to the plan (determined by the City Manager) could be made.
Lengthy discussions followed. Jeff Stott cited two examples, one near the golf course and the Best Friends proposed development in the Ranchos, where this new ordinance change could offer the city and residents more information in order to make a more informed decision when changing a zone to RM.
The council was concerned about the legalities and the possible additional expense to the developer and felt uneasy about some of the wording in the ordinance as presented. They did, however, like the idea of requiring a conceptual site plan which would not be as costly to the developer before approving a zone change to RM.
A motion was made to direct city staff to make some changes to the wording. It was also decided to hold a public hearing to receive public input on this at the December 11 Kanab City Council meeting. The public may review the proposed ordinance as presented at the meeting at utah.gov/pmn/files/446507.pdf.