Mayor’s race: Pike calls for growth planning; Ronnow says residents must be heard

L-R: Candidates for the 2017 St. George mayoral race: Incumbent Jon Pike and challenger Lane Ronnow | Photos by Mori Kessler, composite by St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Effective planning for the future growth and having a more open dialogue between the city and its residents are among the issues St. George mayoral candidates addressed when discussing challenges facing the city.

Incumbent Jon Pike is seeking a second term as mayor and said he has developed the experience and relationships to help guide the city’s growth and prosperity for another four years.

Challenging Pike for the mayor’s seat is Lane Ronnow, host and executive producer of “A Story to Tell,” an interview program that often features members of the community and public officials.

Other facets of Ronnow’s background include work as a former director of of Salt Lake County’s building and zoning enforcement department. He has acted as the chief financial officer for school districts and housing authorities.

Ronnow said city officials need to a better job of taking citizen input into account while planning. City government also needs to be much more transparent and open, he said.

Read more: St. George council candidates discuss growth, code enforcement, short-term rentals  

Concerning the issues presented by the city’s continued growth, Pike said a major challenge is keeping up with growing infrastructure needs. Issues related to roads, sewer, water, power and so forth need to be planned to not only support St. George, but surrounding communities as well.

You need to plan for the city as well as regionally,” Pike said, and pointed to growth in neighboring Santa Clara and Ivins as an example. As those cities grow, their residents are likely to pass through St. George on a regular basis, so future planning needs to take this into account in addition to the city proper.

While Ronnow agrees that planning key, it must also be done with an ear to the desires and concerns of city residents.

“It appears that people have not had much of a say in the process,” Ronnow said. He also said there’s a lack of communication between city hall and the citizens overall.

Ronnow pointed to misunderstandings individuals tend to have over the city’s general plan as an example of poor communication.

A lot of people rely on the layout of the city’s general plan to give them an idea of what future construction in the city may look like. People looking to move to St. George will see an area zoned with large residential lots and build a home there believing the zoning will remain the same moving forward.

That isn’t always the case. A city’s general plan can be subject to changes as developers request general-plan amendments that can change the zoning of a particular area should the City Council approve it. Such actions can take city residents by surprise and is an example of the lack of communication between residents and the city, Ronnow said.

Another area of city-citizen disconnect that needs to be resolved is the city’s code enforcement system, Ronnow said. Particularly, he’s taken issue with how city codes have been enforced.

“Don’t go into someone’s backyard,” Ronnow said, referring to previous accusation of city code enforcement officers entering private property to look for violations. Some of the accusations have led to residents suing the city. That ongoing lawsuit has cost taxpayers $170,000, he said.

The city is reviewing and rewriting its ordinances with the help of a legal consultant, Pike said. The ultimate goal is to make the code more clear and concise and bring it into conformity with state law where needed.

Ronnow favors the creation of an independent commission made up of experienced managers and citizens who would review the city’s laws and regulations and make recommendations to code revisions – or elimination – where appropriate.

Both Pike and Ronnow agree that obsolete ordinances should be dropped from city code and that enforcement of current code should be uniform.

Pike said some code he would like to see loosened up relates to unregistered cars in someone’s driveway. As long as vehicles aren’t on blocks or the like, the city really shouldn’t have an issue with it, he said.

On code enforcement policy in general, the city needs to find a balance that it and the majority of residents can agree on, Pike said. However, as opinions on what does and does not make a good ordinance vary widely, coming to that middle ground isn’t an easy process, he said.

Other issues Pike addressed relate to job growth and bringing higher pay to St. George. While the city and local economic development groups have done well to bring in manufacturing-based business, a focus now is on recruiting and growing tech-based companies.

A major key will be working with the Washington County School District, Dixie State University and Dixie Applied Technology College to create a high-trained, tech-based workforce, Pike said.

Ronnow said the city needs better infrastructure planning, particularly where roads are concerned.

“We need to make sure the infrastructure can handle the increasing traffic,” he said.

Along with that planning, Ronnow said the city should maintain “an open mind and open ear” to its residents while moving forward.

“That’s the key – better communication,” Ronnow said, adding that he would bring that to city government if elected.

The general election is set for Nov. 7.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • utahdiablo October 4, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    “Mayor’s race: Pike calls for growth planning; Ronnow says residents must be heard” …..Ahh,Like…..Vision Dixie? ….The Endless Greed factory of the “good ol’ boys’ has already put the nails in southern Utah’s coffin….it’s already lost ( as to controlled growth / infastructure ) regardless of who becomes Mayor, we all lose as locals in the end….hope you all love sitting in endless parking lots you used to call the highway

    • .... October 5, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      Whaaaaaaaaaa whaaaaaaaaaaa whaaaaaaaaa

  • mater October 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    It’s resonates it’s me that citizens need to be encouraged to participate and listened to not belittled and ignored by the city council mayor and city managers it’s our city not a playground for egos

  • tcrider October 5, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    How about increasing fines for short term and multi family rentals of properties in single resident neighborhoods?
    I think what really needs to be clarified is, that a designated area for hotels is best because they, the business owners
    are able too abide with the required liability requirements, something air bnb or ksl.com does not.
    Many homeowners in the entire Saint George area purchase or building homes in single residents neighborhoods and and they will rent out to multi family, long and short term,y, they will rent out multiple rooms on air bnb and the owner is from out of town, I know the zone enforcement is really trying to do something about this, but we could really use some higher leadership in this city to make the fines for doing short term rentals really substantial, for renting in a single resident neighborhood, The exsisting people purchased or built their homes on good faith that the city’s leadership would stand behind the people that put him in office. I am talking a fine of a minimum of 1200.00 per listed advertisement turned in for evidence of a renter doing short term or multi family or individuals rentals in single family zoned area.

    • David October 8, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Tcrider, I am just curious as to what point you would say enough to government interference in your right to use your property as you choose to. Where do you draw that line? Or are you willing to just let government dictate how you may use your property as they see fit?

  • Barbara October 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    They need to spread the shopping out around the valley more. Shopping in St. George is so concentrated into a small area. In Denver they create small shopping areas near each large area containing subdivisions.

    I also feel the city needs to hire more policeman and policewomen. The city needs to slow traffic down. I have lived in communities throughout the country, larger than St. George , and never witnessed in the news so many accidents in town on a daily basis. The blinking left turn yellow lights are a first for me, but it seems dangerous at busy intersections. The turning lanes are narrow and people speeding along on the busy roads, nearly hit you when you are in the turning lanes. The road systems in this town are crazy and put drivers in dangerous situations. I have witnessed too many cell phones in drivers hands. In Denver many years ago they had horrific car accidents. They reduced their speed limits on the freeways thru the city to 65, it became a much safer place to drive. I am so against these 80 mph speed limits, it is not a great idea and is endangering everyone on the road. Give them 80 and they go 100.

  • William October 23, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Dear Citizens,
    What happen to our Veterans Day parade? that a few veterans worked so hard to build up 60 entrants to over 120 In four years. Where was the Mayor on Memorial Day this year has he forgotten us? what happen to ” I Love our Vets and will support them any way I can ” LOL Remember this city has a lot of Veteran VOTES also remember what veterans did to make this country a place free people live . People that VOTE. Make Us Heard Go out and vote against Ill promises

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