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Letter to the editor: Response to Mr. Sharp's letter

Emery County Economic Development Director and Planner


In response to the recent letter by Mr. Sharp, I would simply like to point out that the Planning and Zoning Ordinance that was approved by the Emery County Commission on July 14 was the result of more than two years of open, public meetings by the Emery County Planning and Zoning Commission. This volunteer board worked very hard over this time to develop an ordinance that is in compliance with the authority that has been designated by the Utah State Legislature and Governor of Utah.

Unfortunately, despite the open nature of the process, I do not recall Mr. Sharp, or anyone else sharing his viewpoints attending any planning and zoning meetings. It is also of note that this ordinance does not affect any activity that occurs inside the city limits of any town in the county, it only affects property in the unincorporated parts of the county. Each town has their own zoning ordinances that affect land use planning in those communities.

In Mr. Sharp's letter, he identifies sections such as 2.5, 5.4 and 1.3.3 as areas of concern. These are all sections that are unchanged from what the ordinance has been since 1978. There was nothing substantial added or changed in these sections in the action on July 14. In reality, the changes that were adopted were grammatical changes that became necessary to meet the requirements of Utah law. If there are concerns with what is in the ordinance, please understand that there was nothing added to this ordinance that will substantially change the way we have administered land use since the ordinance was first adopted in 1970.

In my capacity as Economic Development Director and Planner for the county, I have witnessed first hand the dedication the Planning and Zoning Commission has shown in updating this ordinance. In all of the discussions that occurred in this process, the number one concern has been to follow the law. The reason the ordinance was recently updated was to ensure the ordinance is in compliance with existing laws and recent court decisions. Due to an incredible amount of litigation in this field, it is a constant battle to stay in compliance with what both the legislature and courts have determined is appropriate land use policy.

The ability of local communities (counties, cities, towns) to regulate the development and activities has been a legally recognized governmental activity since the founding of this country and the constitutionality of zoning ordinances was upheld in 1926 by the Supreme Court. Planning and zoning activities are the foundation of the communities that we live in. This has been upheld hundreds of times in state and federal courts over the history of the country and I suspect will continue to be upheld by courts in the future.

I believe the Emery County Commission and Emery County Planning and Zoning Commission both should be complimented for the serious and open manner in which they used to complete a very challenging process. I hope the residents of Emery County recognize the hard work of these individuals and I challenge you to thank them for their dedicated efforts.

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