At their last city council meeting of 2007, the members of Huntington City Council heard both sides of an issue making the rounds in Emery County. The issue of changing the county ordinance requiring 10 acres to build on in the county to just two acres.
Darrel Leamaster of the Castle Valley Special Service District said he had come to explain the district's stance on the proposal. "We on the special service district board have discussed this change and we have objections to it. In the past, the building requirements were to have at least 10 acres and they must irrigate a portion of the land following the construction. The proposed change lowers the requirement to two acres and eliminates the need to irrigate," said Leamaster.
Leamaster went on to say he knows there has been a considerable amount of pressure on the county commissioners to change this ordinance and zoning requirements for subdivisions in the county. Emery County is one of the most restrictive in the state and the county has done this to try to keep growth inside the cities where it can be controlled.
According to Leamaster, the biggest problem the SSD board foresees is the doughnut shaped growth around the cities due to the availability of utility services. He sees people acquiring two acres just on the outskirts of a city and demanding the city run the utility services to them. These people will live in the county and not be subject to paying the SSD taxes. Another point is that a city may have growth on their outskirts that conflicts with future plans for expansion by the city.
"The county and the special service district need to get together and try to solve the problems with the lot sizes and the unavailability of lots inside the cities. Many people who have owned these lots for years and years are hanging onto them for family members who may want to come back to Emery County. Maybe the county should look at taxing those vacant lots at a higher rate," said Leamaster. "A dialogue with the commissioners should be started to solve these problems.
Emery County Commissioner Gary Kofford addressed the council next. He gave each of the council members a copy of the proposed ordinance and challenged them to read it. He stated that according to state laws and ordinances, construction and the types of homes which can be built in Utah Utah are governed by the building codes. These building codes have been adopted by the cities inside Emery County and by the county for outside the cities. The homes that may be constructed if this proposal passes will be just as sound as those being built inside the towns now.
Kofford stated the present 10 acre ordinance says that before construction can take place in the county, the builder must have approval from the city which is closest. Nothing in the proposed ordinance has changed that issue. The cities will still have the responsibility to approve anything which is built. Any construction project will still require the approval from the cities.
"The cities in Emery County need to plan for growth, now and long range," said Kofford. "This proposed acreage change may make it possible and easier for anyone who wants to come back to Emery County and build a home. As for raising taxes on vacant lots, the state told us three years ago we had to begin taxing those lots on their value. We have held them off so far. But this eventuality is coming and we can't stop it."
Following the discussion about the proposed county subdivision ordinance change, the Huntington City Council appointed Gary Arrington as the new zoning administrator. He will also be the ordinance enforcement person.
Mayor Hilary Gordon announced the formation of a stop sign subcommittee. This subcommittee will research the placement of any future stop signs in the city. Mayor Gordon has conferred with David Church, the attorney for the League of Cities and Towns and he has sanctioned this move. One of the first things this subcommittee will look at is the intersection at 400 West and 400 North.
Huntington City Council's 2008 meeting schedule will continue to be the third Wednesday of each month and the meetings will start at 6:30 p.m.