Monticello City Council addresses proposed forest management plan, disc golf course, housing project
by David Boyle
Members of the Monticello City Council weighed in on the Manti-La Sal National Forest draft revised land management plan and draft environmental impact statement at their latest meeting.
San Juan County Public Lands Coordinator Nick Sandberg shared that the county had written a comment letter on the drafts.
Sandberg also gave background on the process to update the plan for the first time since the 1980’s.
A six-page letter the county submitted as public comment includes comments and updates on descriptions and values, as well as County reasoning behind its lack of support for any recommendation of a wilderness management unit in the county.
The preferred alternative identified in the plan includes no change to the Monticello-Blanding municipal watershed, vegetation management focused on mechanical treatments and prescribed burns.
The alternative also allows for new livestock range improvements and includes the designation of camping sites along some popular routes rather than dispersed camping.
This may include along the La Sal loop road, Harts Draw, and the Causeway area, as well as along the North Creek mountain road that connects Monticello and Blanding.
Alternative B also recommends six wilderness study areas of over 100,000 acres.
These include the Central La Sals, Ruin Canyon, Elk Ridge from the Little Notch north to Horse Mountain, Hammond and Notch Canyons, Arch Canyon, Chippean and Allen Canyons.
Members of the Monticello City Council supported the county submitted letter, with a motion to include a comment noting the city hope that the new plan will continue to allow expanding water infrastructure and potentially a new reservoir.
At the same meeting, members of the Monticello City Council received an update on plans to expand water infrastructure on the forest.
City Manager Kaeden Kulow said the city has amended contracts with Jones and DeMille Engineering to do survey work for new pipelines to divert water from recently purchased water from Spring Creek.
Depending on weather conditions, the project could break ground in late spring of 2024.
Members of the council also heard a proposal from a resident for a disc golf course.
Brian Taylor moved to Monticello about a year and a half ago. Taylor said the sport is growing in popularity with courses in Blanding, Moab and Cortez.
Taylor also said the project is relatively low cost for installation of nine poles with metal baskets attached and no course maintenance.
Taylor said he previously helped raise funds and organize volunteers for installation and would help organize the estimated $3,000 for the project.
The proposed course would be located at the Victims of Mill Tailings Park, contained in a relatively small area near the upper parking lot and along that hillside. Members of the council gave verbal consent for Taylor to pursue the project further.
Members of the council also signaled support of the city purchasing new course maintenance equipment for the Hideout golf course.
Hideout Pro Jeff Simon recommended an option to lease three pieces of equipment, with the option to purchase the equipment for one dollar at the conclusion of the lease.
Another option would allow the city to purchase a zero-point turn mower at a decent price.
Members of the council supported Simon’s preference, even though leasing three new pieces of equipment may result in required adjustments to the budget.
As a result, city administration will look at the cost of leasing one, two or three pieces of equipment and present options to the council at a future meeting.
At the November 14 meeting, members of the Monticello City Council also approved a zone change that will allow a new owner to build apartments on a lot located at the intersection of 300 South and 100 West.
The new owner of a local restaurant wants to fix up the property to provide long-term housing for employees.
After a public hearing and council discussion, the zone change was approved from R1 residential to R2 to allow food multi-family housing.
Members of the council expressed support for the change, noting the need for housing in the community, as well as the benefit of having that corner property ‘cleaned up’. The zone change was approved unanimously.
City Manager Kaeden Kulow brought a plan to the council to conduct an employee compensation study.
The study will look at pay rate for city employees at similar-sized towns in the area. Kulow reported the change in part is due to the Utah Retirement System (URS) changing some of its structure moving forward.
At the meeting, the council also updated the fee schedule to allow the city to charge citizens who break secondary meter lines.
The updated fee schedule allows the city to charge for hours of work and replacement of secondary meter lines for those who continuously break city property through any act or neglect.