Tuesday, May 26, 2015
THE UNIQUENESS OF ST. GEORGE AS A LOVING CARING PEOPLE COMES SHINING THROUGH WITH THE LEARNING CENTER’S SUPPORT OF THE SOON TO BE SENSORY GARDEN PORTION OF THE ALL ABILITIES PARK
May 21st City Council Meeting put the spotlight squarely on what I believe is the most meaningful attribute of our community…..A collection of people actively doing what has come to be known and described as the Lord’s Work…Being of Service to your fellow man.
Mayor Pike welcomed members and supporters of The Learning Center….An agency that is known to serve children with a Sensory Processing Disorder. The public was able to see what is meant by that old adage… “Charity Never Faileth” as a large congregation stood before the Council and presented the city with a check in the amount of $10,000… to sponsor the “Sensory Garden” portion of the new All Abilities Park. To make this presentation more meaningful to the City and TLC…It is to be appropriately named, the “Debbie Justice Sensory Garden”…In honor of retiring TLC Executive Director, Debbie Justice.
Folks, whether you have religious beliefs or not, you would be hard pressed not to acknowledge the good that is done within this community by those who routinely go about the business of being of service to others. Kudos to TLC and a profound thank you to SG City for reflecting community values in building an All Abilities Park. Please note that total contributions to this effort have now reached approximately $300,000 and are expected to climb. All donations regardless of amount are welcomed by city.
CONSENT CALENDAR: Council approved the financial report for April 2015. Revenue and General Fund has reached approximately 83% of expectations and Expenditures are at 71%.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: Council approved zone change from C-2 (Highway Commercial) and R-1-10 (Single Family Residential 10,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) to PD-C (Planned Development Commercial) on 28.802 acres generally located at the northeast corner of Riverside Drive and Mall Drive from Mall Drive to 2200 East and Riverside Drive to the River. Smith’s Food and Drug Center, applicant.
Folks, you may soon see a state of the art Super Market and Gas Station to be located on what will be known as The Dinosaur Crossing Shopping Center that will include a dozen other businesses that will require a final approval by Council. City Staff reported that consideration will be given to Traffic Study, 2 large Pillar Signs and 8 Monument Signs. This will be the second major commercial center to be approved near the new Mall Drive Bridge that crosses the Virgin River. You may soon see Traffic Signal Lights appearing at the intersection of Mall Drive and 3000 East. All of this is part of the total Build Out of the City that may one day see 160,000 residents.
PUBLIC HEARING: Council approved a zone change from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-1-8 (Single Family Residential 8,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) on 20.66 acres general located in Little Valley, east of 3000 East Street and north of the logical extension Crimson Ridge Drive. Development Solutions Group, applicant.
Councilman Hughes commented that he knew this is on Master Plan, “What we agreed to” but, “It gives me Heartburn” when I think of number of units per acre and traffic issues.
PLANNING COMMISSION ITEM: A request was received from MVA Properties, Mr. Jared Nielson applicant. Mr. Robert Reid, Rosenberg Associates, representative, for permission to construct a multi-family four (4) story above ground apartment complex called “Catamaran Plaza” with associated two (2) levels of underground parking that would be approximately fifty-eight feet (58) ABOVE GRADE AND WOULD EXCEED THE ALLOWABLE MAXIMUM BUILDING HEIGHT OF 35 FEET, UNLESS THE City Council grants a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) for a greater height as per City Code 10-10-4. The property is located directly north of the electrical substation at the intersection of Riverside Drive and 1990 East Street and is south of existing Rebel Creek Ridge apartments.
When a new structure is proposed that exceeds the allowable height as per City Ordinance, the Planning Commission reviews the plans, and then either: 1) recommends approval of the request to the City Council, who will set the maximum height with a Conditional Use Permit, of 2) recommends denial of the request to the City Council.
Folks, this proposed site contains Hills and Mounds that require the Hillside Review Board to conduct an examination of the site and to forward to the Council a recommendation based on its findings. Councilman Almquist has served on this board and acts as a liaison to Council. Mr. Almquist made it known that a member of the Hillside Review Board found himself in a “Conflict of Interest” concerning this development and in fact declared a conflict. In recognizing the forthrightness of this individual Mr. Almquist wished to bring attention to the integrity of this individual. In furtherance of gaining a better understanding of “Conflict of Interest” procedures as outlined in Utah Municipal Code Laws, Mr. Almquist requested that Acting City Attorney, Paula Houston review the wording/content of statute. This having been done it was clearly established that the Law Required a Declaration of Conflict of Interest when identified elements were met. It was clearly pointed out that an individual having declared a conflict of interest was not legally required to Recluse him or herself or from engaging in the process. Mrs. Houston rendered her legal opinion clarifying appropriate behavior. Mr. Almquist made no further comment.
It is clear that SG City is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. There is a lot going on in our community and I encourage you remain vigil and informed. ED BACA
Thursday, May 21, 2015
AIRPORT ADVISORY BOARD
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR TRANSPARENCY FOUND IT’S WAY INTO HERETOFORE RESTRICTED AIR SPACE
Regular Meeting of SG City Council was held May 14th in the City Hall Conference Room where a self-imposed limit of PUBLIC INPUT is sustained depending on topic matter and welcomed personality in attendance. Transparency and understanding is the objective… Is it not? Roberts Rules of Order do not apply. It is what it is…A Public Airing of Public Business isn’t it? The public is permitted to…Listen…But not to speak. The Public may or may not be extended the courtesy of, viewing…charts/graphs/photos circulated as part of discussion. Elected officials are in control. Good manners and respect has nothing to do with it. It’s strictly Business as defined by city government. Active Citizen Participation is only important when elected officials deem it so.
Folks, those in attendance today consisted of Elected Officials, City Staff, one reporter from the Spectrum and one from SG Newspapers, and yours truly, concerned citizen. Scott B. Taylor, Water Services Director, bless his heart had completed his presentation… which had included an overview of the salary caps placed on Water Dept. Employees and equity needed. Scott was fighting for his employees, recognizing that there was room for improvement concerning merit pay etc. Scott made constructive suggestions on how to address the needs of his employees. The Police and Fire Chief had previously represented their respective departments citing employee retention issues that identified declining retirement benefits. Being the good supervisor that he is Scott suggested ways to improve salary conditions, for long term employees… something akin to a one time annual bonus was mentioned. Just having heard concerns of retirement benefits going from 50% to 35%...and knowing that bonus payments often are not included in highest 3 years calculations for retirement…I spoke up and asked…will this suggested form of compensation be included in retirement benefits? A simple question is it not? As mentioned earlier, no outsiders were present… but two reporters, and me to be inconvenienced by my untimely question on behalf of city employees. I was promptly informed that this Meeting of City Council did not allow for questions/input from the audience. I immediately recognized the power and authority of this body and refrained from further comment. I wish to now Publicly Say I am Sorry to Mayor, Council and City Staff. I should have recognized the need for expediency and comfort of those present. After all, a Public Meeting in a city hall conference room is no place for a single member of the public to ask for clarification of what has been discussed. My only excuse is that I was caught up with concern for city employees and was transported back in time with Councilman Bowcutt’s comment concerning drinking water… “In my day not drinking downstream from cattle” was most important to know. In my mind I still have visions of Norman Rockwell drawings depicting a public gathering in which someone stands up and exercises his freedom to speak. I am sorry to say…those days are apparently gone in a SG Council Meeting. For this I am truly sorry.
You would be quite right to assume, it is not easy to endure the rigors of dealing with the overwhelming powers of city hall. You might also be right to say… Ed, if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. Right, just remember that President Truman’s sage advice applies equally to members of city government. Local government is where the rubber meets the road. If you can’t speak in your own town meeting we might as well just put a chain around our ankle and shut up and be quiet and do what we are told.
I feel it necessary to bring this to the Public’s Attention so that you might see the similarity and pattern that is in place for restricting or limiting public awareness of the actions of city government. As an example I offer last week’s Council Meeting…in which City Residents were admonished to limit their comments to the narrow confines outlined by city government when hearing a General Plan Amendment. If this is not enough to cause you to reflect on the need for checks and balance in city government…I direct your attention to the refusal of our city government to openly discuss Code Enforcement Reform as well as litigation issues that are part and parcel of having an informed citizenry…to oversee the performance of our government. Do you not see what is happening to our city…to our country? Are we as a people becoming so insensitive to the unraveling of our moral fabric that we are content with parking our religious values at government door? Are we to be content with knowing that our elected representatives go to church each Sunday…whatever church it may be and not hold them accountable? Do we not have a duty/obligation be an active citizen…. to question and demand answers relevant to our concerns for a just and honest government? SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT: AIRPORT ADVISORY BOARD. Mayor Pike stood tall tonight…when he thanked Councilman, Joe Bowcutt for accepting and becoming an Ex-Officio member of newly reconstituted Airport Advisory Board. My friends, the internal manipulations of the past two years taking place at the New SG Airport in many ways could be describe as flying below the radar screen. What has taken place speaks to the issue raised at the beginning of this article…Transparency and Citizen Input and Oversight. Prior to the new airport being completed the city was involved in litigation with a contractor that was hushed up. The city never made public the terms of the settlement. Previous administration elected to litigate the claim which they declared to be unfounded …and which the contractor reportedly would never win…yet we know a settlement was reached and the contractor was awarded an amount of money not made public. We don’t know exactly how much or where they money came from to pay the rumored $100,000 pay off. We do know that during the last months of construction the former mayor addressed the city council in a Workshop Meeting and explained that FAA was making demands that required quick responses from the city. Reportedly the Airport Board was delaying or hampering city efforts to do so in a timely manner. The former mayor and City Manager concurred that it was best to do away with the Airport Board made up of local citizens. The former mayor asked the Council to disband the Airport Board and committed to asking for a reinstatement of the Airport Board as soon as construction was completed. Time passed and the former mayor and city manager reportedly concluded that it was better to keep the running of the airport in their hands and therefore the commitment to re-establish the Airport Board was never honored. During the last two years there have been many issues with Private FBO doing business at the new airport. Suffice it to say not everyone has been happy with operation decisions made by the city. I believe it is safe to say city has made concessions that may have resulted in lawsuits and further litigation. As far as we know litigation has been avoided. I have presented these details to you to show the importance of Citizen Oversight and the need to hold elected officials accountable. Mayor Pike is to be commended for honoring his stated commitment to Transparency and for his diligence and hard work in seeing to it that the Airport Advisory Board is back in service. Last Wednesday the Airport Board met for the first time and 6 or 7 members of the public were in attendance. Kudos to mayor and council for a job well done, thereby making Active Citizen Participation possible. ED BACA
Monday, May 11, 2015
CITY MANAGER ESPLIN ADMONISHES COUNCIL ON GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT
“YOU HAVE LOST SIGHT OF WHAT THIS HEARING IS ALL ABOUT”
IS IT BETTER FOR RESIDENTIAL OR BETTER FOR COMMERCIAL BELONGS IN THE FUTURE
“NOT THIS HEARING”
As I left the May 7th City Council Meeting the declaration made by City Mgr. Esplin, hounded my expectation of fair play…Knowing all the while, that legally and technically this Public Hearing was restricted to discussion of a General Plan Amendment…Not Development Of The River Road Shopping Center. Yet everyone in the room, including Esplin knew it was all about moving forward the Sheffield Shopping Center Plans on River Road. As I walked away from City Hall I could not escape comparing the actions of this City Council with the words written in The Charge of the Light Brigade. “Someone had blunder’d: Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die: Into the Valley of Death, rode the six hundred.” By Lord Alfred Tennyson, Victorian Poet.
In their haste to change the General Plan from Low Density Residential to Commercial I believe the City and the Developer may have BLUNDERED… They should have read and discussed the TRAFFIC STUDY that according to Mike Sheffield was only received this date and neither the Developer, City nor the RESIDENTS… had been given the opportunity to study and discuss the impact of traffic upon the community as a whole. It had been agreed that they would do so…it was summarily dismissed. “Theirs, not to make reply, not to reason why, theirs, but to do and die”.
The City, knowing the specifics of the original agreement between Developer and Residents (Planning Commission heard details with Councilman Bowcutt in attendance.) made no effort to have terms of agreement complied with… the City in effect ignored the “CANNONS” surrounding the battlefield and charged forward to the Death of a portion of Residential Life cherished by those contesting change to the General Plan Amendment.
My heart reached out to the many residents whom I believe saw the final stake being driven into the heart of their residential community…ending a way of life they were powerless to save. And so it is when you believe a person has the right to do whatever he/she wants with their own property come hell or high water. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)
ASIDE ISSUE: Residential values are dying everyday with the continued delay of Code Enforcement Reform. A transformation is taking place in the zeal of some to line their pocketbooks with the monies obtained by holding on to the old…small town approach, that a person has the right to do whatever they want with their property…even if it means taking away from your neighbors enjoyment of his/her property. Yes, leadership is required by our city council…however it should be tempered with Public Input… and this means taking the time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s…as in the case of paying attention to a Traffic Study…before the fact, not after. The ship has sailed and Residential Passengers are left standing on the dock, and we all know it. Residential/Cultural Values will continue to CHANGE until such time as the Public stands up and says…ENOUGH!
As to the issue of leadership what stood out in this council meeting was the bravery displayed by the Iron Lady, Councilwoman Arial… supported by Councilwoman Randall. They dared to put families and residential values first…daring to challenge the Knight who I saw charging into the City Chamber to save the day for Developer’s such as Mr. Sheffield…Councilman Almquist.
I fully expected Gil, to acknowledge the appearance of a potential conflict of interest…being that his Landscape Company has a stake in continued development. (Almquits Landscaped Jiffy Lube) So it would not be wrong to expect that Almquist Landscaping Co. will pursue other work at this development site. I have been informed that Almquist Landscape Co. has been employed by Steve Sheffield and provided Landscape Services in the development south of the Summit Athletic Club mentioned by Mike Sheffield in his presentation of accomplishments by the Sheffield’s. This can best be made clear by Councilman Almquist himself. The encumbered display of how this particular General Plan Amendment was moved through the city system cannot but reflect on the entire city council and city manager, with one possible exception. Councilman Hughes appeared to have dodged a Political Bullet…he was absent and therefore his position and thoughts were not revealed to the voters. This being a reelection year for Jimmie…his absence may have inoculated him from criticism or voter backlash come reelection time. Whether this was a calculated strategy or merely Jimmie having to attend a more meaningful event is a decision to be made by residents who may have expected his support. The consequences of Jimmie’s absence, for whatever reason resulted in a tie vote this night and, Mayor Pike was thus empowered to break the tie…and he did so voting with Almquist and Bowcutt in favor of Sheffield and against the residents.
Looking to the future as City Mgr. Esplin suggested I believe it is safe to say that residents expect to see the area north of Bundy Lane become a Commercial Development…something they are conditioned to accept as an essential element of a property owner being able to do what he/she wants with their property. (Council also approved installation of Traffic Signal Lights at River Road & St. James.) Discussing tonight’s vote and results with one of the residents opposed to GPA on 1.4 acres next to homes on Bundy Lane…I was told that that while not surprised with outcome…something good did come out of it. Residents have now established a more open and positive line of communication with City and Developer.
IMPORTANCE OF HAVING AN EDUCATED AND INFORMED SOCIETY: Folks, the majority of my time and efforts are spent monitoring and reporting on SG City Municipal Government. To effectively do this I endeavor to attend each and every city council meeting and have done so for 12 plus years. I document and collect material on every aspect of city government that is made accessible to me. I have developed personal contacts and have become well acquainted with elected officials and city and county employees. I receive letters, phone calls and entertain visitors who come to my home to talk and leave material associated with the workings of city government. I do not consider myself to be a skilled proficient writer. I do not practice grammatically correct methods. I attempt to write in simple direct TERMS believing that the goal is simply to communicate…to give you a clear picture and keep you informed. I not only report on what I hear and see, I describe mannerisms and body language to give you a word picture of noteworthy officials. I even try my hand at humor to describe what I am hearing and feeling. But, as I said, I am not a highly skilled/trained writer. I merely try and do the best I can with what I have. I subscribe to the theory that actions and words of public officials are rightfully subject to public scrutiny. They may not like it but they went into public service knowing this. In some places those who practice freedom of speech are killed. In our city those that choose to be offended merely ask those placing ads in your paper not to do so preferring a slow financial death over out and out murder. Freedom doesn’t come cheap and neither do First Amendment Rights. ED BACA
Monday, May 4, 2015
ST.GEORGE I STAND ALL AMAZED. STANDING ON THE HILL SOUTH OF THE DIXIE CENTER AND CROSBY PARK THOSE GATHERED FOR THE APRIL 30TH COUNCIL MEETING STOOD WITH THE REMNANTS OF A SOCIETY THAT INHABITED WHAT WE NOW CALL ST.GEORGE CITY PERHAPS 2000 YEARS AGO. ARCHAELOGIST GREG WOODALL REPORTED THAT DISCOVERED ARTIFACTS AND STRUCTURAL EVIDENCE LED MEMBERS OF DIXIE ARCHEOLOGY SOCIETY TO BELIEVE THAT THIS DISCOVERY EXTENDED TO A PERIOD BETWEEN 500 AND 1200 A.D. THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIND PERIODICALLY IS WORKED BY STUDENTS FROM S.U.U. AND DIXIE STATE UNIVERSITY HAS SHOWN INTEREST.
THIS ASTOUNDING DISCOVERY LIES IN THE MIDST OF ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING AND PROGRESSIVE CITIES IN THE NATION. SG CITY IS ENAMOURED WITH TRADITION AND APPRECIATES ITS PIONEER AND AMERICAN HERITAGE. LOOKING NORTH FROM THIS SITE YOU ARE PRESENTED WITH THE BEAUTY THAT SURROUNDS THIS VALLEY WHICH PERHAPS EXPLAINS THE FEELING OF A CONNECTION BETWEEN US AND THOSE THAT FIRST OCCUPIED THIS VALLEY 2000 YEARS AGO.
As Greg was speaking I looked upon the faces of those present and was pleased to see that all appeared in awe of the magnitude and importance of the physical evidence that has been accumulated in support of their proposal to have this site become an ARCHAEOLOGY PARK. As I browsed the site I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Karen Monsen, an associate of Greg’s who is I believe, affiliated with Dixie State University and an ardent supporter of education. Karen excitedly put into context the Economic, Educational, Historic and Community Benefits that await development of this Archaeological Gold Mine. I admit I was captivated by Karen and her ability to connect the dots in a meaningful way.
1. Archaeology site located at the confluence of the Virgin and Santa Clara Rivers with Freeway 15 access.
2. Hiking trails currently intersect site location making it a destination point and an integral part of city trail system.
3. The site is literally surrounded by PETROGLYPHS crying out for recognition and protection. Rock Art consisting of carvings of human figures, animals and symbols…..Which could easily be connected to existing trail system.
4. Within walking distance to Dixie Convention Center and Animal Museum and growing number of attractive Hotels.
5. Trail system that leads to Dinosaur Discovery Museum attracting tourist from all over the World presenting an education environment for children of all ages.
Truly the list seems endless as to multitude of benefits attainable by this proposal to establish an Archaeology Park. The clincher for me was the unbelievable view of the surrounding mountains that brought to mind the words of Charles H. Gabriel found in Church Hymn Book #193 that ended with “Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me”
Folks, understanding of the area’s Pioneer Heritage as well as its Native American Heritage is without question important to all of us…..Yet this is but a small part of the Historic Value that surrounds us. It would be a tragedy for us not to honor the stewardship placed upon us to go forward and care for and cultivate this beautiful planet called Earth.
Having said this let me ask you. Is it not more important and of a higher priority to spend taxpayer money on a project such as an Archaeology Park…..Say, than rebuilding a Rodeo Site that is sure to cost millions of taxpayer dollars…..to be utilized for 3 Days.
Oh, to be sure, I have come to understand that an effort is underway to bring other events to the Sun Bowl. Most certainly to help justify the spending of millions of taxpayer dollars on a multitude of events, I believe are designed to camouflage the intended beneficiary. A Rodeo Event supported by the outspoken…..City Councilman Hughes.
I believe decisions such as these should serve the greater good and not be used as a vehicle to further a political career. Supporters of Councilman Hughes are expected to say I am picking on Jimmie unnecessarily. Not so. I fully expect Councilman Hughes to one day be Mayor of SG City. At this point in time I merely question the soundness of his decision making abilities. Like many of you I believe he has an attractive dimpled smile and when all is said and done he is able to make Councilwoman Randall giggle like a high school girl. ALL KIDDING ASIDE, I love Jimmie’s youthful exuberance and I think we all benefit from a little giggle once in awhile, especially during a very boring council meeting.
To make my point on decision making abilities I offer the following exchange that took place. Listed under agenda item #2: Presentation and discussion regarding a possible water waste ordinance.
A proposal to establish an ordinance to fine ($25.00) those wasting water and who are non-responsive to requests to repair deficiencies and conserve water was presented by Rene Fleming, Conservation Coordinator. It appeared the suggested fine of $25.00 was deemed reasonable by all other members of council with the exception of Councilman Hughes. (Councilman Almquist was absent) Having heard the proposal Councilman Bowcutt stated “It’s a viable way to start the process” Councilwoman Arial stated “Fair as presented” Councilman Hughes stated “How often do we run into a problem? “Is it that big a problem? Councilman Hughes qualified his statement by saying “I am a little concerned, are we going to decide who is wasting water?” Mayor Pike stated “We have to deal more wisely with water rates, size of parcel. We have some tiers already”. Councilman Hughes “I’d rather see a rate structure. Hate to see people wasting water. I lose sleep over it.”
Folks, I believe Councilman Hughes raises cattle/cows. It follows that he has a vested interest in water conservation and water rates. Would it not be in the public’s interest to begin water conservation efforts in the form of an ordinance containing punitive language that defines egregious waste of water prior to implementing water rates for all?
Water is too important to allow it to become a political football, kicked around to enhance the image of political figures.
Thank you, ED BACA
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
AND AWAY WE GO WITH A MIXTURE OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE TO INCREASE SALE TAX REVENUESAND A HANDOUT TAXPAYER MONEY FROM CITY GOVERNMENT KNOWN AS SPONSORSHIPS/ SEED MONEY – GIVEN TO PRIVATE AND NON-PROFIT ENTITIES
CITY ADAPTS TO WORLDLY GOALS - IMPERVIOUS TO INDEBTEDNESS MITIGATED BY ISSUANCE OF BONDS SEEKING IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HAPPILY LIVING WITHIN OUR MEANS?
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT GROWTH COULD BE SLOWED SIMPLY BY LEAVING IT IN THE HANDS OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE WITHOUT CITY SPONSHORSHIPS
City Council Meeting scheduled for April 23rd having been cancelled provided the opportunity to report on Council Meeting of April 16th. It began with members of the Lions Club standing at the podium…..Declaring the Lions Club to be a Community Service Organization that supports young people…..Coming forward this day to present the city with a check in the amount of $10,000 to be used in the building of the All Abilities Park. It was made known that this was made possible by the city’s Tremendous Support of the Sun Bowl Rodeo…..Brought about by the many years of City/Lions partnership. (Meaning City Sponsorship of Rodeo in which taxpayer money is spent to offset cost of Rodeo incurred by Lions Club. In effect the city assumes part of the financial burden the Lions Club would otherwise have to shoulder. From a layman’s point of view one hand washes the other. The Lions Club thus has money to give back to the city.) Hillary couldn’t have said or, done it any better. The mayor was quick to point out that the Lions Club helped to fill the depressed coral area (At no cost to city) thus enlarging the parking area. It certainly appears that the phrase…..AND AWAY WE GO aptly applies to the expected Re-building of the Sun Bowl which apparently is what the City and Lions are working up to doing. One can only wonder…..Which Construction Company will get the bid to re-build the Sun Bowl…..Perhaps one that has donated time, labor and equipment to other city projects at no cost. Time will tell.
HOWEVER, recognition should be given to all St. George Lions Clubs for their hard work in promoting events such as the Dixie Downs Horse Races held at the County Fair Grounds. Be it Horse Races or Rodeo’s…..The Lions Club can be expected to contribute proceeds to charitable causes…..No matter where the event takes place. Kudo’s to the Lions club for their commitment to the residents of Washington County. Please note that the Stock Show held at the County Fair Grounds was a credit to the YOUTH of our community and a rounding success. Perhaps it is time to move the Lions Rodeo to the County Fair Grounds. It most certainly would be a more prudent use of taxpayer money. This may be a mute-point now that the city has positioned itself to issue bonds (Indebting taxpayers for millions of dollars in order to acquire immediate cash) it can NOW move forward on many projects that may include the re-building of the Sun Bowl. In other words, city will be spending future Rap Tax Revenue now, not waiting 10 years for tax money to come in to city coffers…..IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION.
First Agenda Item: Council to consider approval of the financial report for March 2015. City Manager Esplin reported city’s sales tax revenue to be up over 6 percent and overall general fund revenues to be up over 4 percent from last year. City expenditures were reported to be down. This prompted the Mayor to say “Golf made some money” to which City Manager replied, “Not enough”. Gary, perhaps this is opportune time to recognize importance of PRIVATE ENTERPRISE by giving FREE MARKET PLACE its head. You may further reduce city expenditures and increase sales tax revenues by SELLING, shall we say half of city owned golf courses. Gary, just think of it. This could also release city from keeping its word to Dixie Red Hills Golf Members by having a private company invest its money into building a more desirable and profitable golf course and club house.
Folks, why is it that the city having grown out of its small town handicaps to development (Excuse the pun) continue to spend taxpayer money/sponsorships…..When it could relinquish its control by inviting Private Enterprise to develop the market place. COULD it simply be the desire to maintain power and authority by way of political favors?
Allowing public time to consider the above listed points, I gladly report to you that item 3A on the agenda did recognize PRIVATE ENTERPRISE. A zoning change was granted to Stephen Wade Auto Center for the building of a Mercedes-Benz dealership. This will allow private development of 2.2 acres that is to include construction of a 20,000 square foot facility that will provide employment opportunities and a much stronger tax base. Citizens of SG may look forward to financial relief by an expected increase in sales tax revenues. (Car sales are a major contributor to city budget.)
My friends we have covered a lot of ground in this article. No doubt I have been inspired to do so by what is taking place in national politics. Whatever your political persuasion may be, we as concerned citizens should be attentive to the direction government is taking, be it national or municipal government. You should know the City Council is now preparing a new budget. They will be deciding on where and how taxpayer money is to be spent in the budget year 2015-2016.
Therefore I will take the privilege of referring you and SG Council to an enlightening article entitled, Happily Living within Our Means – Ensign Jan. 2008. “Building on a foundation of solid spiritual and financial principles is the best safeguard against economic disaster.” I expect all of our elected municipal officials are aware of this…..Being that they are all members of the Church. I will none the less refer Council to item 3 of said article. “I will be cautious about incurring debt. Debt may be essential when purchasing an essential asset, such as a house, but it can destroy me when used to buy things I don’t need.”
Careful consideration should be given to “Things we don’t need”, like re-building Sun Bowl when County Fair Grounds are available at little or no cost to taxpayers.
Our condolence to Barbara Leadenham, co-owner of Senior Sampler upon the death of her father. Barbara remains in England with family and husband Peter has safely returned to St. George.
Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, April 20, 2015
LACKING FINESSE PLANNING COMMISSION PASSES THE BUCK TO COUNCIL MONEY TALKS AND BULLSH*T WALKS. TOP DEFINITION
GOOD POLITICIANS ARE THOSE THAT PROVIDE THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO MAKE SOMETHING WORK THAT REALLY ACHIEVE RESULTS. THOSE THAT JUST TALK THE TALK ABOUT VARIOUS ISSUES, ALL TOO OFTEN TO MAKE THEMSELVES SOUND GOOD WITHOUT ACHIEVING ANYTHING. By Teddy B 12/24/09 Urban Dictionary
WE ARE ABOUT TO FIND OUT WHAT OUR COUNCIL IS MADE OF
WHEN THEY TALK THE TALK ABOUT DIXIE SPIRIT – FAMILY VALUES – TRADITION – GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENTS WHERE IS NURTURING SENSE OF COMMUNITY TO BE FOUND?
City Planning Commission Meeting of April 14th may have intentionally or unintentionally set the stage for SG City Council to reveal itself…..You will be glad to know that I am not referring to Code Enforcement Reform or the blatantly obvious favoritism shown to the Lions Rodeo Event….Hidden under the guise of Tradition.
Folks, the Planning Commission is made up of citizens hand-picked by Mayor and approved by the City Council. Utah Code 10-9a-302. Planning commission powers and duties. The planning commission SHALL make a recommendation to the legislative body for:
(1) A general plan and amendments to the general plan;
(2) Land use ordinances, zoning maps, official maps, and amendments;
(3) An appropriate delegation of power to at least one designated land use authority to hear and act on a land use application.
(4) An appropriate delegation of power to at least one appeal authority to hear and act on an appeal from a decision of the land use authority; and
(5) Application process that:
(a) May include a designation of routine land use matters that, upon application and proper notice, will receive informal streamlined review and action if the application is uncontested; and
(b) Shall protect the right of each:
(i) Applicant and third party to require formal consideration of any application by a land use authority;
(ii) Applicant, adversely affected party, or municipal officer or employee to appeal a land use authority’s decision to a separate appeal authority; and
(iii) Participant to be heard in each public hearing on a contested application.
Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 254, 2005 General Session
Utah Municipal Code 10-9a-203. Notice of intent to prepare a general plan or comprehensive general plan amendments in certain municipalities.
(1) Before preparing a proposed general plan or a comprehensive general plan amendment, each municipality within a county of the first or second class shall provide 10 calendar days notice of its intent to prepare a proposed general plan or a comprehensive general plan amendment:
(a) To each affected entity.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT having been given with the listing of the above Utah Municipal Code sections I will review agenda item 7B: Consider a General Plan Amendment from Low Density Residential to Commercial. The proposal is to change the General Plan to allow for the future submittal of a commercial zone change. The property is located on the north side of 1580 East and River Road on approximately 1.4 acres. The applicant is River Road Inv. and Shefco. The representative is Mike Sheffield. (His father is Steve Sheffield the developer of the Summit Athletic Club/Jiffy Lube/Maverik. Steve is hoping to bring a commercial development to the big vacant lot located west of the Summit Club.)
The property in question is located on the west side of River Road where it intersects with 1450 South. The 1.4 acres is next to the north side of Bundy Lane…..It’s a dirt road below the backside of the St. James Homes that looks north to the Virgin River. You may have seen trucks dumping dirt to raise the Flood Plain level almost reaching the Virgin River. This agenda item only pertains to 1.4 acres. The large remaining acreage is not now at issue. Currently there are 3 to 4 homes located on Bundy Lane. They look like old farm homes and if you don’t look closely you will missing seeing the entry way to Bundy Lane. To a layman, it may appear to be a piece meal approach in developing the entire site where you see dirt being dumped. I have been informed that $500,000 has already been spent just to bring the dirt onto this site. This has been an expensive long term investment for the property owner (s) and you may determine for yourself how this ties into Utah Codes regulating General Plan Amendments.
This Planning Commission meeting began with all commissioners being present. Also present was Councilman Bowcutt, representing the entire City Council. It was made known to the applicant and public that this meeting was ONLY to address GPA and not any other issue. Development of entire site would be addressed at a later time. This, as expected, rubbed citizens the wrong way. Representatives from the Boulders, Saint James, Eagle’s Ridge, Eagles Landing, and Quail Valley Neighborhoods informed the Planning Commission that commitments made a year ago concerning this specific site are not being complied with. Resident Tim Martin asked that provisions of a year ago be considered in total…..Traffic Study, agreement to work with residents needs to be followed. Jinx informed Commission that this should not be done incrementally, “We are seeing pieces. We want traffic study included.” The Commission was told “There is more animosity, concern than you can imagine” brought on by the manner in which this issue is being processed. The feeling was expressed that Planning Commission should not have to deal with this piece by piece, “It’s a Sheffield Problem”.
Steve Sheffield informed the Commission and Audience that concerning the Westside River Road Investments “I have no interest on Westside” This has been turned over to son Mike Sheffield and his brother. Steve related that he in effect has retired from being a developer and is now employed by the company and serves as a consultant and advisor. Steve explained that he lives in the Boulders and that the development of this property has created unfavorable living conditions for him. Steve is now in the process of Ward Shopping in order to make the decision of where to move. To his credit Mike Sheffield expressed his willingness to work with neighbors in a belated effort to resolve issues. In describing the 1.4 acres where he plans to build a two story building that will house a Stevens/Henager Business College…..Mike Sheffield expressed a willingness to meet with neighbors and discuss mutual concerns. Mike Sheffield mentioned the fact that Bundy Lane was partially on his property. The city had evidently been lax when approving the roadway.
To further confuse the issue, Commissioner Beuehner stated “General Plan does not have force of law” This statement needs to be clarified if we are to better understand the power and duties assigned to the Planning Commission in dealing with GPA issues. It appears City Manager Esplin has his work cut out in providing direction to the Planning Commission. When it finally got around to the Planning Commission voting to approve the applicants request two of the commissioners had excused themselves and had left the building. A motion made by Don Beuehner to grant the request died as did the motion made by Todd Staheli to reach an amenable solution. The Buck was passed WITHOUT a recommendation.
Carol Bundy, a 34 year resident of Bundy Lane posed the question. What is best use for Bundy Lane? I caution you to be wise. Its 1.4 acres…..Maintain integrity of Lane…..Maintain safety.
Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, April 13, 2015
SGMT THE MUSIC MAN’S RIVER CITY GIVES MEANING TO THE PHRASE
“YA GOT TROUBLE, RIGHT HERE IN ST. GEORGE CITY”
WE HAVE OUR OWN CAST OF CHARACTERS DECIDING ON HOW THE RAP TAX WILL BE PARCELED OUT. PLACING THE CITY IN POSITION OF, SHALL WE SAY “PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS”
SHALL PROMISES MADE BE KEPT AND WILL THE PUBLIC VOICE BE HEARD
April 9th City Council Meeting: Mayor and City Council BUSY with more pressing matters elected to forego meeting with the public in order satisfy ever increasing demands upon their time. As I pondered on how best to approach the topic of fair distribution of the newly found wealth, (Rap Tax) placed in the hands of local officials…..And the many entities and projects Mayor Pike and Council have already named as soon to be beneficiaries of Rap Tax Money …..I was blessed with the prompting to attend the St. George Musical Theater’s presentation of the Music Man performed “At The Historic St. George Opera House”…..Made possible by SG City.
Upon entering the 1912 world of River City, Iowa my attention was first captured by the audience that was made up of young and old…..Who engaged in warm hearted conversation as they bathed in atmosphere of years gone by.…..Brought to life by SGMT cast of characters. I, being a great grandparent was captivated with the performing children…..Who epitomized a clean, wholesome appearance that included an exercise of good manners and respect for their elders…..Who comprised the remainder of the cast of characters. It soon became clear that real live SG families were actually performing…..Together as a family in this play. You could I think, actually feel, the effects of traditional family values…..Not only in the Play…..But in those alive today representing OUR community. It warmed your heart to know that moral values created in the time period brought to life by Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” actually exist today…..In Washington County, Utah!
Folks, I was transported to dreamland and my mind ran wild with corresponding imagines that connected this play with concerns taking place in our community today. In my mind I made the following connections.
In the play the infamous con man, Harold Hill, arrived and put into motion his standard scam with the intent of absconding with the local’s money. (I likened it with the manner in which the City is favoring pet projects/ distributing and spending Rap Tax Money). Hill sets out to fleece the townspeople of their cash while at the same time he endeavors to charm the fair maiden who is looking out for the city’s best interest, for if he can fool her, the town is his for the taking. (I likened this with how the City is going about getting us to believe that the Lions Rodeo is a sacred cow deserving of millions to build a New Sun Bowl). My thoughts are of course are fiction and only reflect my wild imagination. Folks, please note that any similarity to any of our City Officials is purely coincidental and not intended to demean the character of our elected officials. We all should be content to judge elected officials by their words and deeds and whenever possible hold them in the highest esteem.
SGMT is HONORING its Mission Statement: “The arts humanize humanity. St. George Musical Theater creates, promotes and encourages community participation in performing arts that uplift, inspire and educate, thereby increasing understanding, brotherhood, and joy in our community”. SGMT’s presentation of The Music Man lives up to its stated commitment to the public. Certainly we can expect to less from Mayor and City Council.
I fully expect Mayor Pike and Councilman Hughes, to one day HONOR their promise to Reform Code Enforcement. Heck, I am feeling so positive about this that I even expect Councilwoman Randall to join in and keep her promises on Code Enforcement Reform and Transparency. Now that’s saying something isn’t it?
WHAT DOES RAP STAND FOR?
WHAT CONSTITUTES A “RECREATIONAL AND CULTURAL FACILITY’? Recreational facilities include parks, playgrounds, golf courses, athletic fields, gymnasiums, swimming pools, trail systems, or other facilities used for recreational purposes. Cultural facilities include museums, theaters, art centers, music halls, or other cultural arts facilities.
“ARTS” IS A BROAD TERM. WHAT CULTURAL ARTS DISCIPLINES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR RAP FUNDS? Many disciplines are eligible including Performing Arts” visual arts, literary arts, historic preservation, arts education and more.
My friends, even in my wildest dreams I cannot imagine that this Council will continue in its efforts to manipulate the public into believing that the Lions Rodeo is more deserving than Dixie Red Hills Ladies’ Golf Assn. or Performing Arts Groups like SGMT.
In the closing acts of the play Hill begins to develop feelings for the fair maiden, he is faced with a dilemma – take the money and run, or stay for the love of a woman. I likened this to the City choosing the Rodeo over a fair distribution of Rap Tax Money. In my dreams I continue to expect Council to follow President Gordon B. Hinckley’s admonition and “Stand a Little Taller”.
I awoke basking in reality….. We can all be secure in the knowledge that all is not lost. SG City and Washington County are blessed with good and decent people. I joined in applauding a wonderful performance and drove home free of worry. My wife and I greatly appreciate the staff at SGMT and SG City for its support of the Performing Arts.
Note: On 4/7/15 County Commissioners appointed the board members who get to decide where County Rap Tax Money is to go. Action is awaited by SG City Council on who gets to decide where City’s portion of Rap Tax is to go. Thank you, ED BACA