Commission approves Spanish Valley overnight overlay application
by David Boyle
Members of the San Juan County Commission approved the next steps for a 72-acre resort in Spanish Valley, approved Storm Water Drain Master Plan for Spanish Valley, and approved a resolution supporting a Congressional effort to withdraw a proposed BLM rule at their latest meeting.
During their June 20 meeting, members of the commission approved a Spanish Valley overnight accommodation overlay application for the proposed Balanced Rock Resort.
The application allows the 72-acre area to have the overnight accommodation overlay, which is another step towards the proposed development project to offer overnight accommodations in the Balanced Rock Resort.
The proposed development, located northwest of Kens Lake, has plans for 220 residential units including 94 single-family lots, 42 duplexes with 88 units, 34 condominium units and 130 rooms in a lodge. The plans also include a community clubhouse, playground, and open space.
Four northern San Juan County residents spoke out against the overlay during public comment. Among them is a neighbor to the project, Kim Jacobs. Jacob’s said neighbors have shared with her they all oppose the overlay, noting she hadn’t spoken to one of the neighbors in the area.
Jacobs added that the conceptual plans for the project do not meet the required 100-foot buffer in county ordinances. “That is well under the required buffer of 100-feet that in your ordinances states is intended to be a transition zone between commercial, industrial and residential uses.”
Other concerns highlighted by Spanish Valley residents are the high density of the project, lack of affordable housing, and availability of water.
Presenting at the meeting was a representative of the developer, Gardner Plumb LLC.
The developer outlined the resort’s latest draft plan has been modified to include affordable and employee housing.
The plan’s 4-plex lot including four units has been set aside to provide employee housing for the Lodge, with secondary priority to provide housing to employees of the Resort.
Additionally, the seven duplex lots, totaling 14 units, will be set aside for purchase by persons who are locally employed. None of the employee housing units will be allowed to provide overnight rentals.
The draft plan also states that a proposed new road, along with the affordable long-term units on the north edge of the property will add a buffer of over 100 feet between the overnight rentals and the north property line, with the draft also stating that the proposed lodge would be over 1,000 feet from the nearest home.
A legal opinion from the San Juan County Attorney’s office stated that the Spanish Valley Residential Flex Planned Community zone are subject to the Spanish Valley Overnight Accommodations Overlay District.
While a rezone application for the property was recommended in an April meeting by the Planning Commission via a split 3-2 vote, the planning commission recommendation for the overnight overlay zone was unanimous.
Members of the San Juan County Commission also voted unanimously to approve the overnight overlay zone application for the Balanced Rock Resort at the June 20 meeting.
At their latest meeting, the commission also voted unanimously to approve adoption of the Spanish Valley Storm Water Drainage Master Plan.
The approved plan is the result of a joint effort between San Juan County and the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to study and prepare for the management of stormwater as the area continues to develop.
The master plan objectives include protecting developments from flooding in events up to the design storm runoff event, mitigation of potential development impacts on storm water quality and quantity to Pack Creek, and planning facilities with maintenance in mind.
The county paid for the master plan, in part with funds from the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board.
Members of the commission also unanimously approved a resolution supporting Bill HR3397 by House Representative John Curtis, which would require the director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to withdraw a rule relating to conservation and landscape health.
The proposed BLM rule would add ‘conservation’ as a use on equal footing with the BLM’s multiple-use plan which permits ranching, mineral extraction, recreation and other uses.
The proposed conservation use would allow individuals, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and Tribal governments to purchase conservation leases to conserve land to protect intact landscapes and/or restore degraded habitat.
Members of the San Juan County Commission approved a letter opposing the rule at their June 6 meeting.
The resolution passed at their June 20 meeting supported the Curtis bill to withdraw the rule from consideration.
Commissioner Bruce Adams said his concern with the rule is the impact of taking possible grazing lands out of the available lands managed by the BLM and the impact that would have on ranchers.
“(Ranchers) have no place to go out and buy land on which to run these cattle because the BLM simply owns most of the land. So if you start reducing the amount of land available to cattle people or sheep people and setting it aside for conservation, there’s going to be nothing done on that land but just keep it out of the hands of agriculture.”
Members of the San Juan County Commission also approved a grant from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation for an Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Grant for trail maintenance and equipment purchases.
The County road department applied for and received the $199,667 grant to purchase equipment to maintain UTV trails.
Among the items included a Skid Steer Track Loader with attachments, a Honda Pioneer UTV, and a Trailer to haul equipment.
County Road Manager TJ Adair said while the county is required to match the grant in-kind with labor for three years, the county will keep the equipment following the grant after completing planned maintenance.
Members of the county commission also received a visit from the State of Utah Administrative Office of the Courts.
Presenting to the commission was State Courts Facilities Director Chris Talbot, who expressed office concern about the state of the courts in the county public safety building.
“Of the 36 facilities that I lease statewide this is my biggest concern... getting that air quality test performed in the courtroom”
County staff has been working to secure funds to help remodel a new public safety building through CIB applications and conversations with the state legislature.
The office of the courts and the county has concerns about the moisture and air quality in the court room, beleived to be related to the current state of the roof over the court.
Talbot explained in an effort to help aid the county in repairing the roof, he would recommend the Office of the Courts pay the entirety of their remaining rent through their lease that ends in two years in order for the county to secure $58,000 to pay for the repair.
County Administrator Mack McDonald explained the county has reached out to a state contracted vendor to perform an evaluation of the building, including looking at the roof and providing atmospheric measurements related to environmental concerns of mold.
McDonald reccomended that the county find out the cost of repairs before the State Courts consider providing their rent up front.
McDonald explained that the current issue at the building is finding a roofer that will come repair the public safety building.
“Even thorough we have funds available for some of these projects, we can’t even get the contractor to even wink at us to entertain it, it’s something we’ve got to continue to explore.
“I like the state’s offering, it is something that is worth while considering we just have to find the costs of what it will take to fix that.”
Members of the county commission also approved contracts for aging health services, an alcohol license for Glamping Canyonlands, and approved contract services to provide election services to the town of Bluff.