County approves business license rules

In a brief meeting on May 19, San Juan County Commissioners approved rules and regulations regarding the licensing of business ventures in the county.

Natalie Randall, the Director of Economic Development and Visitor Services for the county, said her office will manage the licensing process.

The issue was discussed several times in the past, starting in 2019.  Randall said after hearing from the public and the Commission, changes were made to a set of preliminary recommendations.

The changes include clarifying that home-based businesses do not require a license, that businesses do not need a county license if they are already licensed by a municipality, that no license is required for the sale of agricultural products, and that fees will be waived during the coronavirus pandemic.

Randall outlined several pros and cons of requiring business licenses.

Pros include ensuring that business operations are compatible with current zoning requirements and determining if businesses are paying proper taxes.

Randall added that the process can be a resource for businesses and is helpful for economic development.

Cons include the added regulations and restrictions and the additional cost, although Randall added that since the county waived the registration fees, “this will not be a revenue generator for San Juan County.”

McDonald said tracking short-term rentals is a challenge and added the project “will help us greatly. Currently, we are flying blind with the impact of AirBnBs.”

He added that Blanding is currently licensing a number of AirBnB rentals that are outside of city limits.

Commissioner Grayeyes asked about the impact of the program on businesses on the Navajo Nation. McDonald responded, “Ultimately for us, as far as enforcing, the enforcement can only happen in the San Juan County jurisdiction and not on the reservation.”

In other matters, Commissioners approved a letter to federal officials explaining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the San Juan County economy, including on tourism and oil and gas exploration.

“We need the federal government to understand that San Juan County is a gateway community to national parks and monuments,” said County Administrator Mack McDonald. “This letter may put us on the radar for the future federal funding relief.”

McDonald added that the letter will explain the essential services provided to visitors to the area, including emergency response.

He added that unless the officials understand the need, “by the time federal aid gets down here to southeast Utah, the funding is small.”

Commissioner Willie Grayeyes suggested that instead of a letter, the statement could be made in the form of some other option, such as a resolution.

Commissioners also moved a deadline and waived filing fees and penalties for personal property tax payments until August 16.  This is due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Commissioners approved a request to the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to extend a road through SITLA land that will connect roads in an area popular with off-road vehicles.

The road system is along Highway 95 west of Comb Wash and will connect with roads south of the highway near Mule Canyon with roads to Texas Flats and Baulies Mesa.

Currently, the off-road vehicles travel 1.2 miles on Highway 95 to connect the roads. The extension will eliminate extensive travel on Highway 95 and cut the distance to 0.2 miles.

“This will improve safety and offer better access,” said McDonald.

Commissioners approved a project to use county road equipment for the Tangren Lane Extension in Spanish Valley.

The road was impacted by the installation of water and sewer infrastructure and had not been added to the list of county roads.

Landowners in the area will supply the material, and the road department will do the work.  The road will then be restored to D road status.

Commissioner Bruce Adams asked about dust control on the roads in Spanish Valley. They have been impacted by the construction for more than year.

Adams suggested the county either water the roads or contract with Grand County for the work.

San Juan Record

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