Council considers drug arrests, zoning, public safety concerns

HURRICANE – With a quorum of only three since Mayor John Bramall and Councilmen Darin Thomas and Darin Larson had previous commitments, the Hurricane City Council heard reports on public safety, concerns over a zoning change and a presentation on a plan to help mitigate flooding in Hurricane City Thursday night. Councilwoman Pam Humphries took charge of the meeting in Bramall’s absence.

Public safety

Detective Travis Hall gave a presentation on the goings on of the Police Department’s task force, detailing some of its most significant cases of the last year, including three drug busts. In July 2013, the force found narcotics and a suitcase with “precursors to meth” in a vehicle after a routine traffic stop, Hall said. In October 2013, the force obtained a search warrant for a house across the street from Hurricane High School, found marijuana and meth and arrested six people. Within the last month, the department obtained a search warrant and found $4,200 worth of heroin in a home in the Hurricane Hills subdivision. Two were arrested in that case, one of whom will go to federal prison.

Heroin is almost becoming epidemic, Hall said. When some people are not able to afford prescription drugs, they turn to heroin, he said.

Pam Humphries asked Hall if the city is worse off than it was two years ago when it comes to illegal drugs and Hall said no. He said his department knows of two really big drug dealers still in town but assured the council: “We’ll get them.”

Hall also discussed the use of K-9 dogs and their importance in finding drugs.

“Dogs are worth their weight in gold,” Hall said. “The only thing that scares (drug) cartels is dogs.”

Zoning change concerns

In its Feb. 20 meeting, the City Council approved the rezoning of a property located at 232 W. 200 North from residential multi-family 1, six units per acre, to residential multi-family 2, ten units per acre; at that time, the council approved developer Dace Goulding’s plan to build a duplex in back of the existing triplex on the property. No residents were there to protest the plan at that meeting, but it was a different story Thursday night. A contingent of four nearby residents led by Don Triptow came to voice their disapproval of the plan for the property, saying they were not aware a decision on the property was on the Feb. 20 agenda.

Triptow, who showed a document with 25 signatures of residents opposing the change, said the lot in back of the existing triplex is too small to build a duplex on and would require a narrow driveway that would be too tight for two-way traffic, dangerous for children, and difficult for emergency vehicles to access. In addition to the perceived dangers, Triptow said the new duplex would be a detriment to the surrounding residents’ privacy and would promote parking congestion.

Another nearby resident, Ron Kelsey, said he was concerned that less than half of the planning and zoning members actually inspected the property in person before approving it.

“You can’t tell by looking at paper what the impact will be,” Kelsey said. “A lot of assumptions have been incorrect.”

Kelsey said it was “very unprofessional” of some of the planning and zoning commission members to approve something they had not seen and feels it should be mandatory for them to actually see a property before discussing it.

Pam Humphries said she was not sure the City Council could do anything about the rezoning now that it has been approved and encouraged the group of residents to attend the planning and zoning commission meeting in which it discusses the site plan for the property and voice their concerns then.

Flood mitigation

Mac Hall, Hurricane Canal Company president, attended the Thursday meeting seeking Hurricane’s support for a feasibility study by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to potentially upgrade the Frog Hollow Basin Dam from a low hazard dam to a high hazard dam and potentially dam Gould’s Wash as well.

If the current dam, last upgraded in 1980, fails, there is a potential for loss of life, Hall said.

City Engineer Arthur LeBaron agreed. If a flood were to occur, he said, it would be dangerous for homes sitting along Gould’s Wash.

To illustrate, Hall said the last flood to flow through Gould’s Wash in 1981 damaged four homes. By Hall’s calculations through a recent walk through the wash, if the same flood were to occur today, he said, 70 homes would be damaged.

Councilman Kevin Tervort asked if the city really wanted to invite a government agency to help it out.

“The NRCS is our best buddy as far as the federal government goes,” LeBaron said to Tervort. “Anything we can do to mitigate this, we should.”

“It is in the city’s best interest to do the study,” Pam Humphries said.

After the discussion, the council voted unanimously to support the study.

Hurricane City Recreation Director Bryce King (right) with Kim Olson, executive director of the Utah Parks and Recreation Association (left), on the Parks and Recreation Association's award to Hurricane for its community center, Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, April 3, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
Hurricane City Recreation Director Bryce King (right) with Kim Olson, executive director of the Utah Parks and Recreation Association (left), on the Parks and Recreation Association’s award to Hurricane for its community center, Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, April 3, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Recreation Facility Award

At the beginning of the meeting, the Hurricane City Recreation Department received an Outstanding Facility Award from Utah Recreation and Parks Association Executive Secretary Kim Olson for its Hurricane Community Center and Fine Arts Center.

Olson said the city earned the reward not because it is the newest facility, but because of its success in converting the old elementary school into a community center that has become very impressive and a gem of the city. He has seen other municipalities try to do what Hurricane has done, Olson said, but they couldn’t get through the red tape.

“I admire what you’ve done,” Olson told the City Council and Recreation Director Bryce King, who accepted the award.

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4 Comments

  • DoubleTap April 4, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Looks like Hurricane City will need to increase the Police Department’s budget
    so they can acquire more K-9 officers to apprehend those last two major drug dealers remaining in the city.
    Then they can go after the ones that will surely replace those last two. It’s a never ending cycle. Someone has to supply the addicts in Hurricane.

  • Karl Seagun April 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

    May I suggest an editor for the article? For example, “Two were arrested in that case, one of who will go to federal prison” should use “one of WHOM” instead.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic April 6, 2014 at 11:53 am

      You got it – my fault. Thanks, Mr. Seagun.

  • Charles April 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Reuben, the statement “Pam Humphries asked Hall if the city is worse off than it was two years ago when it comes to illegal drugs and Hall said no” is off. The city is A LOT worse off regarding the use of illegal drugs than two years ago. Drug enforcement may be catching more dealers, but the reality is that we have seen a rise in crimes and drug use all over. It goes without saying the more dealers, the more use. Our neighborhood has been ruined because of it – filled with delinquents – like a cancer that ebbs and falls within each drug bust.

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