Hurricane changes ordinance, desires annexation of Sand Mountain

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

HURRICANE – The Hurricane City Council protected itself from liability in cases of development on collapsible soil and briefly discussed and authorized the initiation of a possible annexation of the Sand Mountain area, a recreation haven the city wants to protect from encroachment.

Unstable soils waiver

In the wake of the South Fields subdivision, which the City Council reluctantly approved in April, the council approved an ordinance that would protect it from liability “in connection with the issuance of building permits in areas where subsurface or groundwater, unstable soils, and other geological hazards are present,” the meeting agenda stated.

The ordinance would require those wanting to build on such land to sign and notarize a waiver that informs them of the risks and indemnifies the city, Councilman Darin Larson said.

The ordinance requires potential home builders in such areas to complete a geotechnical survey on their property. In some cases, Larson said, parts of such subdivisions could carry fewer risks than others, which is one of the reasons the ordinance requires the survey to be done.

In some previous cases of subdivisions being built in areas with collapsible soil and high groundwater, City Recorder Kaden DeMille said, builders and homeowners have come back to the city after having built, attempting to hold the city liable for issuing permits after they start having problems.

“Owners are aware of the problems beforehand but essentially want to hold the city responsible despite their demand to issue them a permit,” DeMille said. “This release of liability form would help alleviate some of these problems as it would be recorded with the property that the owner was aware of the property’s condition beforehand.”

Sand Mountain

At the end of the meeting, the mayor and council discussed starting the annexation process of Sand Mountain.

City Attorney Fay Reber discussed the process required in order to go through with an annexation, something that the council would like to move forward on, DeMille said.

It is still in the very beginning stages,” he said.

Larson said the city cannot make the request for annexation, but landowners have to make the request. A resolution the City Council passed simply provides authorization for Mayor John Bramall to talk to the landowners to make a case to them for annexation, Larson said.

2013 WORCS Sand Hollow SVRA, Sand Mountain, Hurricane, Utah, April 20, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
2013 WORCS Sand Hollow SVRA, Sand Mountain, Hurricane, Utah, April 20, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Bramall has experience with annexation as approximately 10 years ago he had to request the land his own home sits on be included within the city’s boundaries.

Both Larson and City Manager Clark Fawcett said the city wants to annex the land, currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and other private landowners so it stays open for recreation, especially all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts, without any fees.

There is a list of steps that must be taken to complete the annex, Fawcett explained.

The first step being that Bramall must define is the area to be annexed, Fawcett said. This would include land that developer Bob Brennan has shown interest in as a possible exchange property for approximately 800 acres he owns in the Green Springs area of the county’s Red Cliffs Reserve, subject to a Habitat Conservation Plan for protection of desert tortoise habitat.

Read more: Developer pushes for resolution from Habitat Conservation Plan, Sand Hollow land swap compromise

Fawcett said the city has annexed land before, citing the example of the land where the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Litehouse, and other businesses now stand.

City budget

Discussion of the city’s 2015-2016 budget was also on the agenda. The budget is a little over $35 million with the general fund a little over $9 million.

Next year’s budget includes the addition of one police officer and $750,000 to replace the asphalt on 400 South between 300 West and 100 East, Fawcett said.

During the meeting the council also approved $1.1 million in sales tax revenue bonds that will go towards the completion of Grandpa’s Pond Park, the construction of a park in Dixie Springs and the parcel the city purchased across the street from the Community Center to expand its parking lot.

Other business

Scott Telford came to the meeting seeking an appeal of zoning for a vacation rental property, but the council decided to continue the agenda item at a later, unspecified date as the council and planning commission will be addressing vacation rentals in a special July 22 work meeting.

At the meeting, Hurricane received the TAP award (Trust Accountability Program), a grant program offered through the city’s insurance carrier, Utah Local Governments Trust, for the second consecutive year. It is a status very few of the cities insured by the trust have achieved, DeMille said.

The city completed a series of requirements showing that it takes a proactive approach to safety for its employees. The city will get a check back from its insurance carrier for completing the requirements, as well as the award.

The City Council granted permit cost relief, approximately $2,000-$3,000, for the construction of a pavilion and amphitheater at the Boy Scouts of America Quail Creek Scout Camp.

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