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Front Page » January 11, 2011 » Opinion » Regarding the article concerning mountain property rezoning
Published 2,238 days ago

Regarding the article concerning mountain property rezoning

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By Paul Jacobs
Emery County


Your recent article regarding the adoption of a new ordinance governing the development of property in the County's mountain zones was extremely troubling. Beyond the contradictions found therein it, amongst other things, failed to consider any of the potential effects that might be brought about by the adoption of the new ordinance or to identify the beneficiaries of the change. It is unclear whether these deficiencies were due to a lack of thoughtful analysis by the Commission regarding the ordinance's adoption.

The article mentioned that the properties at the Trail Mountain Resort enjoyed "grandfathered" status because they pre-dated the effectiveness of an ordinance put into place in the 1970s. That ordinance sought to prevent the promulgation of mountain subdivisions. Despite the grandfathered status of the properties, as mentioned by the article, the development of such properties was impossible under the existing ordinance structure. In this manner, the County's policy of limiting mountain subdivisions was being achieved by the existing structure.

Therefore, the substance of the decision before the Commission was whether to allow the development of the Trail Mountain Resort properties. It was the duty of the Commissioners to make this decision with the best interests of the County in mind. Do the County and its citizens want a new subdivision or an expanded one adjacent to the scenic reservoir? Despite the responsibility, your article did report any discussion of the County's interests. Instead, everything was couched in terms of making the zoning system work for the individual landowner.

Assuming that your article is representative of the actual discussion that took place prior to the adoption of the new ordinance, it is even more troubling that there was no discussion of what broader effect adoption might have by opening new land up to subdivision. Given the vast amount of private property abutting state roads in the County, this would seem to be a very significant change in County zoning policy one that does not conform with the County's long standing policy to prevent the subdivision of mountain property.

Lastly, the most glaring deficiency was the failure to identify the immediate beneficiaries of the change. Changes to zoning ordinances like this have the potential to create significant windfalls for the well connected. Is SITLA the only beneficiary or are there others (e.g., the purchaser)? What possible benefits may accrue to the County from this change?

It is startling that many of the implications involved do not appear to have been thoroughly considered.

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January 11, 2011
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