City bids farewell to finance director, hears concerns on new zoning near Mall Drive Bridge

St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, April 17, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – In its first meeting of the new year, the St. George City Council bid farewell to the city’s long-serving finance director Thursday, as well as created a new city department.

The City Council also met with some vocal opposition to amending the city’s master plan to allow for commercial property in the Washington Fields area near the Mall Drive Bridge.

Farewell to the city’s finance director

Phi Peterson, retiring finance director for the City of St. George, Utah, date unknown | Photo by Dave Becker, courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News
Phil Peterson, retiring finance director for the City of St. George, Utah, date unknown | Photo by Dave Becker, courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News

Phil Peterson has been with the City of St. George since 1982. He originally started as a city controller, according to the city’s website, and subsequently became the city’s finance director.

“I’ve never had to worry about the finances of the city” with Peterson, City Manager Gary Esplin said, adding that he will miss getting Peterson’s input on the city’s financial affairs.

Under Peterson’s time as finance director, Esplin said, there havn’t been any major issues with the city budget or audits. “He’s done a great job for the city,” he said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to serve for 32 years,” Peterson said, adding that as a citizen of St. George, he is confident we won’t miss a beat as the city continues to move forward.

Peterson’s retirement will leave a gap in the city’s finance department that will be filled with the creation of a new department called the “administrative services department.” Chosen to head the new department is Deanna Brklacich, who has served as the city’s budget manager.

Brklacich is the second woman in the city’s history to be promoted to a department head. The first was Laurie Mangum who was made the head of the energy services department last month after former director Phil Solomon retired.

Tiffany LaJoice, the city treasurer, was promoted to the new financial manager position.

Lajoice’s promotion leaves the city treasurer position open. The city will be looking to fill the position with a new hire in the near future, Mayor Jon Pike said.

Amending the master plan

The City Council approved an amendment to the city’s general plan creating approximately 24.4 acres of commercial zoning between 3000 East and Mall Bridge.

Before the council voted, they heard from residents of the Washington Fields area who were opposed to seeing commercial property creep into their backyard.

One woman, who said the proposed commercial zoning is right behind her home, said future commercial development would change the “character and nature” of Washington Fields. People moved into Washington Fields so they could live in quiet neighborhoods, she said, adding that people can drive into town to get their groceries and other needs.

Pike, who lives in Bloomington, said he watched as fellow Bloomington residents protested the incoming Wal-Mart. Pike didn’t protest the store’s arrival and now he and his neighbors shop there, he said. He added that he felt having commercial in the proposed area would be a benefit, and not a detriment, to the neighborhood.

Sherrie Reeder, also a Washington Fields resident, and whose family operates the Staheli Family Farm, asked the City Council if they had spoken with Washington City officials about creating commercial property.

Pike said they had, and he had spoken with Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson about it as well. Overall, he said Washington City officials seemed in favor of the prospect.

Other business

The City Council awarded a $90,000 bid to B. Hansen Construction to demolish the West Cove Apartments at 100 S. 300 West. The approval went through despite objection from the family of the late property owner to delay the measure.

Read more: City plans tear-down of condemned, nuisance apartments

The City Council approved an interlocal agreement with Washington County concerning the city’s bomb squad. The squad was previously commanded by St. George Fire Capt. Jason Whipple who retired last year. The agreement hands management of the bomb squad to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

A regulation was passed naming Laurie Mangum, the city’s energy services director, as the city’s representative to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS.

Related posts

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

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  • Richard January 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Since the council allowed Washington Field residents to comment..the rule about only St George residents being able to comment is arbitrary. Not much integrity going on.

    • Reb January 9, 2015 at 10:04 am

      The Council allowed the Washington Fields residents to speak due a PUBLIC HEARING on a proposed General Plan Amendment within 500 feet of their property. The City is required by STATE LAW (Utah Code 10-9a-205) to notify and allow affected residents to speak in that public hearing regardless of where they live. However, the Open Public Comments forum is open to City Residents only (the City Council set that rule in place) and is different from a Land Use Change Public Hearing.

  • jimmyJamm January 9, 2015 at 10:46 am

    This so bugs me….I moved to Washington “Fields” because it was quiet and had farm land around, not for Saint George to line their pockets…..How about the impact on the school! did you think of that….All it takes is one accident to kill a child and it will be too late…..I have seen more traffic in the last two months at that corner then in the last 6 years I have lived here or the last 9 I have worked at that school….NO ONE IN SAINT GEORGE CARES!!!!

    • Jef January 9, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Schools are near roads all over the world. Teach traffic safety to your students. The speed limit is low there so it is safer for the kids. Tell the brats to not play in the road (or tell the ones you don’t like to go play in the road). It is safer with the bridge because residents with an emergency have faster access to the hospital. Also, it saves time and resources with the bridge there. Shut up and suck it.

  • OH WAAAAAAAAAA January 9, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Get a life jimmyjamm! The only thing certain other than death, is change! Fight it or go with it, it really doesn’t matter, because change is going to happen. Did you ever stop to think that all that terrible traffic on that corner is relieving the overload of traffic on another corner?

  • Evil Twins Mommy January 9, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I like in St George and I don’t care. Have a nice day

  • St. George Resident January 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I’m so tired of Washington City residents and all their complaints. First you complain because it takes you to long to drive to Costco so ST. GEORGE CITY spends millions to put in a new bridge for YOU and now you complain because they want to put a grocery store on their property. Stop complaining already there is no pleasing you people.

  • ladybugavenger January 10, 2015 at 8:16 am

    😮 the conflict between Washington fields and st George residents I had no idea. I learn something new everyday.

  • brett giles January 11, 2015 at 1:31 am

    I care about people i don’t drive but I love the new bridge it make it to me to walk to my moms home i was wondering if you are going to put some side walks in and some lights

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