HURRICANE – Thursday night’s Hurricane City Council meeting started off with a discussion that turned heated between citizens and the city. The discussion centered on a road project that is underway along Hurricane’s 600 North, and the city preparing for eminent domain.
“We are acquiring a 66-foot right of way, to build a two-lane facility – one lane in each direction, with the capacity to put in a two-way left turn lane. After a public open house, we received a lot of feedback voicing concern about the turn lane,” Hurricane City Engineer Arthur LeBaron said. “We listened to the public, and eliminated as much of that two-way left turn lane as we could, in favor of a shoulder. The shoulder is wide enough to accommodate parked cars and bicycles. In the future when it’s warranted, the two-way left turn lane would be considered, and it would eliminate all parking on 600 N.”
The design speed on the road was determined to be a 25 mph road. “It’s not a state highway, it’s a city street,” LeBaron said. “The only reason the state is involved is because we have federal aid money, which the ‘spendature’ of that money goes through UDOT.”
“The purpose of this meeting tonight is: Under Utah Law, in order for the city to proceed with the condemnation action, if we feel we need to, we have to pass some resolution authorizing the accusation of the property through eminent domain,” Hurricane City Attorney Fay Reber said. “It does not prevent us from having discussions back and forth to resolve the issue amicably. So we do not have to actually utilize the eminent domain. That’s what we are really hoping to do.”
Will Lehman, a resident whose property sits on 600 North, said:
I bought a piece of property that was a blighted piece of property. I put money into it and fixed it up. The first meeting I am invited to, I was told it was a public hearing, and really what it was, was we’re going to bust this off and shove it up your rear. That man (pointing to LeBaron) there lied to me so many times.
Lehman went on to tell the council that he felt the road was going to be a bypass that will lead to the parkway, thus causing downtown Hurricane to lose money. Lehman said he asked LeBaron why he was doing the project, the way he was doing it? and he was told it would cost too much money to take out the poles belonging to Rocky Mountain Power. In addition, Lehman said, he was told that Rocky Mountain Power would not work with the city – it could be years before they could get Rocky Mountain Power to move those polls. He said:
You can condemn my property, but you won’t go after Rocky Mountain Power to make them move their polls. They’re building a superhighway, they’re taking land, they’re putting in a weed patch in front of my house, nobody is happy!
Councilman Darin Larson then confirmed with Reber that even if the city were to invoke eminent domain, the citizens along 600 North would be compensated. It’s in the constitution that they receive a fair price for the property, Reber said, even if the city uses eminent domain.
Rising from the audience, Lehman said:
Let me make this clear, it is not a compensation issue. It’s the fact that I was lied to. It’s the fact that the process has been manipulative. It’s the fact that the people here (indicating the council) don’t consider the people who live on that street. Nobody listened, that’s the issue.
“We have tried to work with you,” LeBaron said. “I have asked you to come in and meet with me so we can discuss the issue and find a solution to the differences. You have cancelled those meetings.”
“We are not here to call names,” Mayor John Bramall said.
“I am telling you, Mr. Mayor, avoid condemning anyone,” Lehman said. “There are a bunch of people who have not agreed to sell their easement. It’s a waste of money, it’s a waste of tax dollars, and it’s just foolishness.”
Katie Leavitt, another resident of 600 North, said:
With the amount of setback, and the angling through the yard, we felt our home value is going to depreciate quite a bit. I have three small children, and I would encourage the council to come and look at the orange spray paint running through my yard. I don’t feel safe raising my kids there now, but I am there so –
Arthur LeBaron is working with me and has been good. The current measured footage from the existing asphalt on the west side of my home is 16 feet, at the center it’s 18 feet, then to the east side it’s 26 feet; that’s how big of an angle it is taking through my yard.
Bramall encouraged the council to visit the yards of both Lehman and Leavitt. He then called for a motion to approve the resolution to enable the condemnation action along 600 North, adding that it will be used as a last resort if necessary. The motion then passed.
“I would like to say something in our defense. I did not appreciate the accusations that were filed. I don’t think accusing someone of lying because of a misunderstanding is not kind, it is not Christian, and it was totally out of line.” Councilwoman Ethelyn Humphries said after the motion passed. “Arthur has done a great job for the city. He has not done anything that the City Council has not asked him to do. Your beef is with us, not with him.”
Lehman, standing from the back of the room, said:
We do have beef now Ma’am. Christ himself went into the temple, turned over the money changers’ tables and ran them out. To call me non-Christian because I said he lied, when in fact he did, is just as bad as the liar.
When Lehman did not sit down, and continued to speak, the mayor struck his gavel and told Mr Lehman that he was “out of order.”
Hurricane Police Sgt. Jared Brisk then approached Lehman and asked him to sit down. Lehman then complied and took his seat.
Read more about the 600 North widening project in St. George News February 2014 report linked here.
Also at Thursday’s council meeting, a presentation was given by the Hurricane American Legion Post 100. On May 29 at the Hurricane City Cemetery the Legion will be hosting a sunrise service. Bramall will be speaking and breakfast will be served at the Post afterward.
Hurricane City also adopted a proclamation to limit the hours for outside watering due to scarcity of water. The proclamation would allow Hurricane residents to water for irrigation between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
“The Virgin River normally at this time of the year is running at 400 cubic feet per second,” Bramall said. “As of yesterday, it was at 70 cubic feet per second. Our irrigation water uses 25 cubic feet per second.”
The motion passed issuing the proclamation with an exception for “large agricultural or recreational properties that cannot be adequately served by the water provider during those times.”
The next Hurricane City Council will be held on June 5, at 6 p.m. in the Hurricane City Council Chambers.
- Hurricane City Council hears issues smorgasbord on police, code, community
- Hurricane City Council approves 2 large subdivisions
- Hurricane City Council approves new power fees; leases, taxes discussed
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