Southern Utah News Articles
Kanab Planning Commission vote ends in tie on Best Friends housing project
To avoid turning people away, as was the case at their last meeting, the Kanab Planning Commission (KPC) held their February 5, meeting at the Kanab Library, where they again dealt with the issue of the Best Friends (BF) proposed Ranchos housing project, along with three other housing developments.
Bart Battista, BF project manager, addressed the requests made by the KPC at the previous session Jan. 15, regarding a sewer line connection to the 45 homes being planned, and a road impact study involving the Hamblin, Stewart and Powell Drives that traffic from the development would travel.
Battista stated, “Using a traffic study by Iron Rock Engineering, using Utah state road guidelines, we found by figuring 2.5 trips per day by an average of 2.4 people per household, that traffic would only increase up to 50 percent of the capacity of those streets.”
He continued saying, “We have garnered an agreement with the lot owner to the south of this 30 acre parcel. We hope to build and run a sewer line to Kanab Creek Drive and then east under the Kanab Creek bridge to hook up to an existing sewer line. BF would bear the brunt of the cost of a sewer line in that area of the Ranchos.
Addressing other concerns brought up at the previous meeting, Battista said BF employees are responsible dog owners, and would self police their dog’s behavior and be subject to peer pressure in that community. “Anyone would still have recourse with the city’s nuisance ordinance,” he commented.
Battista quoted a state study done over a year ago in which Kane County was noted as being the fifth most expensive county in Utah to live in, requiring a minimum wage of $17.27/hour to afford to live here. “We start our thoroughly vetted employees at $13.50/hour and go up to over $20/hour, with multiple benefits. But affordable housing is still difficult to find for our staff, which is why we want to build these homes,” said Battista.
There were several BF employees at this meeting who were not present at the last one. They described their personal frustrations securing affordable housing in Kanab and how much this housing project, limited only to BF employees, would have helped them avoid living in sub-standard quarters with negligent landlords.
Larry Erdman admonished Kanab City officials for not coming down on derelict landlords saying, “How is this allowed to happen? Where are city officials on this issue?” He, and others present, felt the BF housing project would free up rental units for others seeking a place to live in town.
There is no disagreement that affordable housing is a serious issue in Kanab, but the concern for many residents is whether existing zones should be changed to facilitate multiple housing projects, and how those zone changes affect homeowners already living in those zones.
Samantha LeFevre, along with her husband Levi, live on Hamblin Dr. adjacent to the 30 acre parcel and summed up the question facing the KPC.
“The zone change is the issue here,” said Samantha. “We and our neighbors bought property in an RA (Residential Agricultural) zoned area of the city, with three-acre plots and an open space feeling. The proposed zone change to RM (Residential Multifamily) shows no sensitivity to those living there now, and sets a precedent for the re-zoning of adjacent properties in the future. We should not circumvent existing zoning to accommodate this housing proposal.”
Hal Hamblin told commission members, “You don’t have to justify your vote, just vote your conscious in this matter.”
There wasn’t much discussion of the zone change request among the KPC members before Breck Judd motioned to approve the zone change, seconded by Ben Clarkson.
Donna Huntsman voted nay, stating the applicants knew of the existing zone designation and now want that to be changed to accommodate their project. “Our job on the KPC should be to understand and comply with existing ordinances and established city zones, and use the fundamental tenants of good planning to promote orderly growth,” she emphasized. “Going from RA to RM would not constitute a transitional zone change in that area or respect those homeowners who made a financial commitment to live in that semi-rural setting.”
Joan Thatcher felt similarly and also voted against the zone change.
Chairperson Chris Heaton again recused himself from voting secondary to his employment with Iron Rock Engineering that has contracted with BF for services. Scott Colson was absent and excused. Arlon Chamberlain was present, but is no longer on the KPC after being appointed to the Kanab City Council.
The deadlocked vote resulted in the issue dying in the KPC, which will not be revisited by them in the future under the same parameters, according to city attorney Jeff Stott. In effect, the KPC cannot recommend changing the zone to the Kanab City Council. BF can appeal directly to the city council to grant the zone change, if they choose to do so.
New housing remained the focus of this KPC meeting.
A zone change from R-1-8 (Single-family residential) to RM (multifamily) was granted to Lance Jackson in order to build a second set of two duplexes at 320 S. Main, just south of the lot at the corner of Main and 300 South, previously approved for two duplexes.
Nate Janes, from Cedar City, had his major subdivision approved for 17 town homes in an RM zone at 245 E. and 650 S., just north of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Kanab. Crimson Cliffs Villas will be private residences of 1600 sq. ft., with a 400 sq. ft. two-car garage below.
Gary and April Cooper’s plans to build two 12-unit three story apartment buildings at 300 E. and 300 S. was approved. There would be two accesses to the 24 apartments off of 300 E., and another off 300 S. (Hwy 89), pending UDOT approval.
A final site plan with a conditional use permit to delay upgrades was approved for Joe Johnson to allow the relocation of Kanab Farm and Ranch to 2073 Hwy 89A.
A monument sign ‘The Suites of Kanab’ for the new buildings at 157 W. Center, which previously burned down, was also approved.