Hurricane moves toward Hurricane Valley Fire District; evaluates vacation rental ordinance

Hurricane City Council, Hurricane, Utah | stock image, St. George News

HURRICANE – Hurricane City moved one step closer to joining the Hurricane Valley Fire District again on Thursday evening and also set in motion a discussion with its planning commission to make changes to its new ordinance allowing vacation rentals.

Fire district

The council approved a resolution, without any comment during a public forum, to request a boundary adjustment to include Hurricane City in the Hurricane Valley Fire District. With the city passing the resolution, the process will move to Washington County, which will hold a public hearing on the matter. If the county approves it, it will move to the state for final approval.

Before the resolution was passed, Mayor John Bramall again touted the benefits of joining the district – cost savings for the city and strength in numbers. The mayor and Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann reiterated that the Hurricane Valley Fire District is a levy district, meaning that there would be public hearings held before any tax increases to pay for district expenses.

Kuhlmann said that if everything goes smoothly with Hurricane City joining the district, the switch would be completed by Jan. 1, 2016. He also said the Hurricane Valley Fire District has little interest in Rockville and Springdale joining, as was discussed in a Fire District board meeting in February, because it could be too costly.

Vacation rentals

Bart and Michele Mounteer, of Heber City, came to the meeting seeking a zone change from R-1-6 to R-1-10 to allow a single family house vacation rental. They plan on relocating to the home in 4-5 years, but would like to utilize it as a vacation rental until then. They purchased the home thinking it was in the right zone, but it was not.

Planning Commission Chair Ryan Cashin said there was little objection to the zone change in the commission’s meeting, just concerns about vacation rentals in general. The council approved the zoning change unanimously.

Later on in the meeting, the council, upon Councilman Kevin Tervort’s recommendation, discussed making possible changes to the new ordinance, especially when it comes to the number of total rental houses it would allow and the number of people who can occupy the rentals.

Each council member and the mayor said they’ve used vacation rentals themselves and said they think they have a place in the community. However, even before the ordinance went into effect earlier this year there have been homeowners renting their homes to vacationers, without a license – 17 of them, according to Cashin’s research. City Planner Toni Foran said she has sent letters to some of those homeowners without a license. So far, there have been four applications and two licenses granted for vacation rentals under the new ordinance, Foran said.

Kuhlmann said that according to the state fire code, vacation homes accommodating more than 10 people are required to have a sprinkler system installed.

City Manager Clark Fawcett said that some groups staying in vacation rentals will be more than 10 to make it more cost effective for the group.

Police Chief Lynn Excell raised the concern that people are building and buying homes expecting a residential neighborhood and expect it to remain that way. He said he has talked to people who were planning on building in Dixie Springs but pulled out because they saw five homes within a two-block area being advertised as vacation rentals.

The city must decide what kind of restrictions it wants on vacation rentals, Cashin said, suggesting it could limit the total number or limit the number per neighborhood.

If we overregulate and over-restrict, we might as well not do it,” Councilman Darin Larson said, suggesting that they do research finding out how other communities both within and outside the state have regulated their vacation rentals.

Excell said the city also must decide how it will enforce the ordinance to protect those who are doing it the right way.

In the end, the council decided to set up a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss it further, tentatively scheduling that meeting for July 22.

Other business

In the public forum, resident Stephen Meyer, of American Legion Post 100, voiced concerns about the logistics of the Veterans Day Parade the city will host in November. Both the mayor and the police chief assured him that the logistics would go smoothly with the protocol the city has in place for parades such as the Peach Days Parade and 24th of July Parade.

The City Council adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of not more than $1.1 million aggregate principal amount of sales tax revenue bonds, series 2015, to purchase a parcel next to the community center to expand its parking lot, and to finish work on Grandpa’s Pond and Dixie Springs Park, among other matters.

The council approved approved a mass grading permit for 17 acres of future Sky Ridge phases. It also approved, on recommendation of the planning and zoning commission, preliminary plats for Sand Hollow Estates Subdivision, a 234-lot single family subdivision in Sand Hollow Resort, for Sky Mountain Apartments, three apartment buildings located at 2170 W. 600 North, as well as a zone change for the former Brentwood Bowl building to become a tile production facility and retail front.

The council heard a presentation from Community Education Television’s Marcus Farnsworth on its available services to the city, including putting together training videos and helping the city promote itself as a tourist destination. CEC TV is available on Baja Channel 22 and on southernutahlive.com.

The council also approved a proclamation limiting the the discharge of fireworks to only a few areas in town – the Spilsbury Park and American Legion ball fields, Three Falls Park and Pioneer Park.

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