Monticello City Council talks Sage Grouse, zoning ordinance, city pool

Members of the Monticello City Council discussed Sage Grouse protections, zoning ordinances, and semi-truck parking at their July 12 meeting.

A new map of Sage Grouse protection put together by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was strongly disapproved by the council at their latest meeting.

“I think the City needs to write up a strong letter,” said councilwoman Kim Henderson in response to the initial map. 

The main concern expressed by the council is over the amount of unoccupied land the BLM has already designated. As well as concerns about how restrictions would impact agricultural efforts in the area.

There was also concern over how close the designated land got to city limits. 

City Manager Evan Bolt recommended that the city find a biologist to help support their agenda to shrink the map. 
Bolt said, “If you can provide factual data, sourced factual data, so if there is a biologist here who can say ya, they haven't been here in 90 or so years, actual information… If you can give them factual data that backs up the position you’ve taken, by law they can’t ignore something that’s sourced.” 

The council encouraged citizens with concerns to participate in the public scoping via physical mail or online comments, or at an upcoming in-person meeting.

At the meeting, the City Council did unanimously approve a letter to the BLM on a different matter.

The letter asks the BLM to transfer the land the water treatment plant sits on to the city. Currently, the city leases the land from the BLM with the lease set to expire in 18 years. The city has been in contact with Senator Mitt Romney’s office to help move the process along where possible.

Also at the meeting Councilman George Rice expressed his concerns over the miscommunication and representation of the situation with a possible deal between the city and AES to donate solar panels to help operate the swimming pool. 

In an interview with Red Rock 92.7 FM on July 7, Alan Nauman discussed the project and how the Canyon Country Youth Corps could receive solar training as part of the installation of the solar panels.

Rice expressed concerns that the claim that the city had awarded a contract on the project was misleading.

Bolt clarified that the city agreed to a phased-out approach to the project and that the only money given by the city on this project is $3,000 for engineering. 

Rice also expressed concerns over the “direction” of the statements hinting toward the pool possibly being opened year-round as a result of utility savings. 

Rice said, “I didn’t get any push back from this, but I made a statement at a City Council meeting that until we had someone comes up with the funding, we weren't gonna entertain any more of the talk of the pool being open year round.” 

Rice referenced his own experience as currently living in a house powered by solar energy as to why he knows the city won’t save extensive money with a solar-powered pool. The pool is currently heated with natural gas.

Rice went on to say, “I am not going to be a part of this council if we entertain anything further on these panels without first talking about where we pay for electricity and what we pay for natural gas… It doesn't take anybody with any intelligence to understand that solar panels will do nothing to save money on the heating of that pool. That pool is heated with natural gas.”
Mayor Bayley Hedglin clarified that the possible deal for solar panel installation was never for a year-round pool despite statements by the representative possibly hinting towards that possibility. 

“That was the whole point with that donation, it was just a step toward making that building a little bit more efficient and a little bit better.” shared Hedglin.

Rice added, “I agree but if there’s still the cost of the installation that's going to be borne by the city we’re throwing good money after bad.”

In other pool news, the new boiler has been confirmed to have been shipped but has yet to arrive in Monticello. There is a possibility that the pool will stay open longer than usual into the fall to try and make up for the missed time. 

Monticello city council looked at amending two different parts of the city zoning ordinance during the meeting. Many of the proposed changes to zoning in the city were required by the state legislature.

The fact that the ordinances were written up by the state led to the council being concerned over how fairly it represented a rural community like Monticello.

Amendments to the general provisions of the zoning ordinance are to standardize terms across the state, such as accessory dwelling units, and mobile home. 

Amendments to the supplementary requirements and procedures applicable within all zones were related to property line adjustments, conditional uses, and renting of dwelling units.

While reviewing the zoning ordinance the council discovered a requirement that Recreational Vehicles (RV) Parks have a minimum of three acres area. 

Although currently operating RV Parks would be grandfathered into the new requirement, the council approved a reduction from the minimum of three acres to one acre. All but councilman Kevin Dunn voted in support. 

The council tabled the passing of the ordinances for a future meeting.

Council did hold another discussion in the meeting regarding 

Council also received the resignation of George Matoka from the planning commission. Matoka’s resignation follows the council's adoption of a requirement that members of the planning commission live in city boundaries.

The city council thanked Matoka for his time and work serving the city while on the commission. The city will soon post an application for the open spot. 

The council also discussed concerns over the semis parking on the empty lot on the southeast corner of Center and Main Street. 

Members of the council expressed the fear that the privately owned lot has become an eye sore and a bad representation of the city. The trash left behind has also caused some health concerns.

The council discussed putting up no overnight parking signs to deter the semi-drivers from parking there. Henderson expressed concerns that doing so may cause semis to park on Main Street instead, wearing down the road. 

Because the road is maintained by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) the city can’t put up any signs or make any official restrictions besides painting the curb. 

The council also discussed the repair of the welcome sign at the north end of town.

The city has been waiting nearly two years for the insurance money of the person who hit the sign to come in to replace the sign. 

The council voted to use city funds to fix the sign now, while still seeking to receive the funds eventually from the insurance company.

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