Council refuses exceptions to vacation rental ordinance, construction updates

This photo taken Friday morning shows 700 West, yet under construction. Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

HURRICANE — The Hurricane City Council heard a varied agenda Thursday night, with vacation rentals at the forefront.

Vacation rental ordinance “on trial”

The council heard two pleas from homeowners asking for a variance to the city’s vacation ordinance, which was approved in its current state in March of this year.


Read more: Hurricane lifts moratorium on vacation rentals, approves amended ordinance


The first homeowner asking for an exception was Boyd Smith who owns a home in the first phase of Dixie Springs. He would like to convert the home into a short-term rental as he and his family are moving into another home with a mother-in-law suite to help care for an elderly family member. Smith’s problem is that there is another vacation rental within 150 feet of his current home and the ordinance states that vacation rentals must be at least 300 feet from each other.

A street in Dixie Springs with homes in various stages of construction, Washington County, Utah, July 25, 2013 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
This 2013 file photo shows a street in Dixie Springs with homes in various stages of construction, Washington County, Utah, July 25, 2013 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Smith said a company uses the nearby short-term rental to provide lodging for its corporate salespeople when they are in town, so it is has little affect on the dynamics of the neighborhood. If he has to sell the current home, he said, he would be selling it at a loss.

Councilwoman Pam Humphries said that it is homeowners like Smith who put the council in a conundrum because if the council starts granting a few variances, other potential vacation-rental owners will think the door to a variance is easily open to them and will ask for similar exceptions.

Councilwoman Cheryl Reeve said there have already been a lot of complaints about vacation rentals in Dixie Springs and she wouldn’t want to complicate it.

In the end, Councilman Kevin Tervort made a motion to deny the requested variance. The motion was unanimously supported by the rest of the council.

Immediately after Smith, Rachel Thompson came to ask for a similar exception to allow her to operate a vacation rental in the Old Farm subdivision,  at approximately 700 West and 500 South, which is in an R 1-6 Zone, but, according to the ordinance, vacation rentals are allowed only in areas R 1-8 Zones.

Councilman Kevin Thomas said that Thompson’s home meets all the intents of the R 1-8 zoning criteria and showed sympathy to her cause, saying the city should help promote the prosperity of its citizens.

Mayor John Bramall and Humphries suggested Thompson consider turning the home into a long-term rental, even suggesting possible tenants. Humphries said that if Thompson put up a “For Rent” sign, she would get potential tenants calling within an hour because of the demand for long-term rental homes with a yard.

Ultimately, the council took no action on her requested exception, but instead made a motion to initiate a zone change for the whole subdivision from R 1-6 to R 1-8 to any homes that qualify.

These homeowner requests prompted Reeve to say she felt that the city’s vacation rental ordinance is on trial.

“It’s not set in stone forever, but we’ve got to give it a chance,” she said.

City Attorney Fay Reber said that perhaps the council should revisit the ordinance and change it, specifically to change the zoning requirement.

City Planning Director Toni Foran said that a steady stream of people seeking to own a vacation rental will continue as there are a lot of people building homes specifically to turn them into vacation rentals.

400 South Reconstruction

While not on the City Council meeting recently, outside of a council meeting City Engineer Arthur LeBaron said that the reconstruction of 400 South between 100 East and 300 West is unfortunately behind schedule.

“Crews have been working on underground utilities, which has proven very difficult,” he said explaining. “However, Interstate Rock is pressing forward and making progress.”

The project is within the budget, LeBaron said, and he doesn’t expect any problems with the budget.

LeBaron said he has not received any complaints about the project as of yet.

“I have canvassed the neighborhood and have received a very warm reception from everyone I spoke with,” he said, “which is an acknowledgement to me that folks are very grateful for the improvements that are being constructed.”

Barrels are lined up in anticipation of a major reconstruction of state Route 9 beginning July 20, 2016. Hurricane, Utah, July 16, 2016 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News
This June 2016 file photo shows barrels lined up in anticipation of the major reconstruction of state Route 9 which was to begin July 20, 2016. Hurricane, Utah, July 16, 2016 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

State Street project

The reconstruction of State Street, also known as state Route 9, in Hurricane from 300 West to 700 West is progressing and scheduled to be completed in November.

The project will “replace deteriorated pavement, install new water meters, update pedestrian crossing to latest federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards, add fiber optic communications between signals, upgrade the storm drain system, and repair various driveways, sidewalks and curb and gutter,” the Utah Department of Transportation webpage on the project said.

The webpage said that roto-milling of the south side of SR-9 began on Aug. 14. The process involves the pulverizing of the old asphalt, base materials and natural subgrade soil then mixing it and treating it with cement stabilizer, creating a base that will be compacted and cured and made ready for a new asphalt surface.

According to the webpage, “This process was chosen by UDOT because of it’s cost effectiveness and to expedite the construction schedule so as to minimize impacts to the community.”

This January 2012 file photo shows Steve Garcia and others as Garcia received the Healthy Dixie Award for 2012 from the Healthy Dixie Council for his role in establishing the Hurricane Pickleball courts. Hurricane, Utah, January 2012 | File photo, St. George News
This January 2012 file photo shows Steve Garcia and others as Garcia received the Healthy Dixie Award for 2012 from the Healthy Dixie Council for his role in establishing the Hurricane Pickleball courts. Hurricane, Utah, January 2012 | File photo, St. George News

Pickleball court lighting

At the City Council’s July 21 meeting, neighbors of the city’s pickleball courts, located at approximately 50 S. 100 West, objected to the night noise of pickleball players on the downtown courts.

The courts’ neighbors want play to end at 10 p.m. and the players want to play until 11 p.m., especially considering the hot summer temperatures.  

Reeve said one neighbor threatened to sue the city if this is permitted, stating that it violates their civil rights. Those in favor of playing pickleball later asked why one citizen objecting can carry more weight than hundreds of citizens being able to enjoy pickleball, Reeve said.

Ultimately, the item was tabled so that the council can study the city noise ordinance before coming to a decision. Currently, the lights go off at 10 p.m. because of earlier complaints by citizen.

Zion overcrowding

Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh and Chief of Commercial Services and Partnerships Jack Burns came to the meeting Thursday to do a presentation on Zion’s current overcrowded conditions. 


Read more: Maxing out capacities; growth challenges for Zion National Park, Springdale


Mayor Bramall and the council said they would enthusiastically do what they could to help the park further its desire to provide visitors with a more quality experience.

Email: rwadsworth@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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