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Kanab City Planning and Zoning Commission reach impasse on ‘The Wave’ subdivision preliminary plat

The tone of the April 2, 2024 Kanab City Planning and Zoning Commission meeting was set concisely by City Attorney Kent Burggraaf during the core of the proceedings: “You’re each appointed to the planning commission to make decisions. Most of the time, they’re probably pretty rudimentary, as we saw with a lot of these decisions that went before - and occasionally you’re called on to make tough decisions.”

The initial site plan showing the proposed locations of the subdivision lots, with Sedona Valley subdivision to the south. Photo courtesy of Utah Public Notice Service.

The majority of the meeting proceeded with regular efficiency and consistency, with each agenda item receiving due attention, before having a recommendation attached to send on to city council. The ongoing cooperation between the city and the county to develop parking on certain properties associated with recreation in the area moved forward smoothly, as did some basic zone changes and requests from individual residences. However, there was one item on which the planning and zoning commission disagreed, and, again as Attorney Burggraaf stated, “It’s obvious that there are some very strong feelings about this issue, and it’s been voiced by the applicant and at least two commissioners.”

The issue in question was the preliminary plat for a new subdivision, dubbed ‘The Wave,’ planned for the property north of the current Sedona Valley subdivision The new subdivision, consisting of 70 lots for 69 buildings and one common space, is surrounded by mixed Residential, Agricultural and Commercial zones to the north, residential 1/8 to the south in Sedona Valley, Commercial 2 on the east by Highway 89A and the Kanab Creek on the west. City Staff recommended approval of the subdivision, under the standard of an administrative item - meaning this item was being viewed from the position of existing legal standards, explained by Burggraaf, “The input you receive, if it were to affect your decision, needs to be based on issues or facts being pointed out that show non-compliance with law, like our local ordinance.”

With that standard set, one member of the public stood as a proclaimed representative of the neighborhood, stating, “I’m here because of my neighbors with little kids … the folks that I talk with on 86 East have concerns with traffic on 10 West.” He presented the subject as a traffic risk, citing the increase of vehicles coming through the subdivision threatening the families with small children. After a series of discussions on the traffic issue, highlighting potential solutions and mitigating factors, Commission Chair Russ Whitaker called for a motion; Commissioner Ben Aiken made the motion for a recommendation of approval to the city council, and was met with silence. After a period of time sufficient to conclude no second was coming, the council continued with discussion on the item to determine appropriate action.

Said Kanab City Planning & Zoning Commissioner Terry Edwards, “I have personal reasons for not liking the thing - I could either vote nay, or abstain from the whole thing. I could elaborate if you’d like me to, but it has to do with people I associate with and have known my whole life in this town … I’m just growing weary of every agricultural spot being taken up with residences, it’s just not the same town.” Commissioner Heather Russell added, “I’m along the same lines with Terry.” The commission stalled on the issue, preparing to review the ordinances and the application, with the following item - the approval of the individual site plans for the structures on the plat - sparking further discussion. Josh Beazer, representative of Iron Rock on behalf of the subdivision owner, stated, “There’s a need for affordable housing in this town. It’s hard to find an affordable place … and a lot of that comes down to developing housing. I think you guys are doing a disservice by denying these.” Aiken corroborated the statement, “We need houses, we’re still behind from the 2008 crash, we need these houses.” Commissioner Taylor Glover replied with the opposing view, “I guess if this is the space we’re going to get into, I think it’s inappropriate for us to not go into public hearing and allow the public to speak, but allow the applicant to offer opinion and not just the facts, I don’t think that’s appropriate … I beg to differ with the idea that we’re obligated somehow to approve every single idea that anybody has for any amount of property anywhere because it’s somehow going to magically solve the fact that the prices of homes go up. The price of homes have continually gone up, forever. Has St. George, by approving every single subdivision, outran the price of homes? They haven’t … I don’t want to be shamed up here by the applicant and whoever else for saying that it’s our fault for the price of homes increasing, it’s not our fault.”

Following a reminder by Burggraaf to the public and the council that there are policy discussions and potential to change local ordinance upcoming, when it would be appropriate for everyone to share the more conceptual, opinion-based arguments over the long-term health and goal for the municipality, the council once again concluded the best plan would be to review ordinance and return to the issue in the next meeting - with a sole ‘nay’ vote from Aiken. The council did, however, approve the site plans for the individual units, conditional on the approval of the overall plat, with nay votes from Edwards and Russell. With discussion of the “tough decision” of the evening concluded, the council continued with more straightforward planning and zoning decisions. They recommended approval for a site plan for renovations for a Taro Coffee storefront - Taro is currently operating out of a food truck unit, and is looking to expand, with unanimous approval from the commission on their new property design.

The commission took a brief recess, after which they returned for the final few items. They unanimously recommended approval on a new plan for a community outreach center in the parcel behind the city offices, which would include room for counseling groups like drug addiction recovery, as well as general and maintenance storage for city property. The final item was the vacating of an easement for a local development, on which the council recommended approval, then adjourned the meeting.




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