Hurricane City Council applauds baseball teams, approves critical infrastructure materials area

ST. GEORGE — At the August 5 Hurricane City Council meeting, councilmembers congratulated local baseball teams, approved a critical infrastructure materials protection area and approved building permits in the Gould Wash floodway over the objections of the city engineer.

Hurricane Recreation Director Kole Staheli introduced the players and coaches for the Hurricane Red Sox 3-4th and 5-6th grade teams. The 3-4th grade team went deep into the state tournament held in Utah County. The 5-6th grade team took home the state championship of the Pinto League.

Councilmembers took the opportunity to high-five the players as they gathered in front of the council for photographs.

Old business

The council approved a motion to designate the Hurricane Ready-Mix Inc. gravel pit as a Critical Infrastructure Materials Protection Area.

Attorney James M Elegante for the Todd C. Stratton Revocable Trust presented the motion at the prior council meeting. The council chose to table the motion until this meeting when the full council would be in session.

Next, the council reviewed an updated Preliminary Plat and Sensitive Land application submitted by Chris Wyler concerning 16 lots located in Hillside Estates.

Wyler appeared before the council at the prior meeting regarding the property. At that meeting, it was determined work must be done to ensure building did not interfere with an irrigation canal that runs under the property. Wyler presented a revised application which addressed the canal. The council approved Wyler’s updated application.

Pecan Valley

Wyler remained at the speaker’s podium as he discussed with the council a motion to amend a deed restriction in place on Wyler’s resort property in Pecan Valley.

Chris Wyler addresses the council concerning his resort development in Pecan Valley, August 5, 2021 | Photo by Darren Fraser, St. George News

The discussion focused on a fire system for a clubhouse under construction at the resort. The clubhouse is deeded as temporary, which means it is considered a commercial building. As such, the building code calls for additional features, such as exit doors and a commercial-grade fire system. Wyler asked the council to reconsider both the deed restriction, thereby negating the need for a commercial fire system.

“Have you checked on the price?” Councilmember Nanette Billings asked

Wyler responded he did not understand why Billings was asking about the cost.

We’re trying to comply (with the statute) you’re holding our feet to the fire on,” Wyler said, adding, “It doesn’t say when the clubhouse has to go in.”

The issue pivoted on how the clubhouse will be used. Wyler said he is living in the building, which qualifies it, de facto, as a residence.

“It was never the intent for it to be the clubhouse; we just wanted that deed restriction,” Wyler said.

Fire and Ambulance Director Tom Kuhlmann said that under the building’s current designation, his department could not approve a residential fire system for the structure.

“The activities (of business versus residential) are completely different,” Kuhlmann said.

Planning and Zoning Director Stephen Nelson said he favors Wyler’s draft proposal because Wyler is living on the property which qualifies for onsite management. But Nelson said the proposal must be improved to address specific issues.

“I think there are weaknesses in it. We should add a termination clause and an amendment clause,” Nelson said.

After Nelson and Wyler discussed changes to the property development phases, the council voted in favor of amending the deed restriction.

Power rate increase

At the previous council meeting, Power Director Dave Imlay presented the council with various options for a manageable power rate increase.

At this meeting, Imlay explained what the city spends on power and how much the city passes on those costs to consumers. He noted in peak consumer months, the city is losing money.

In June, we were buying kilowatt hours for 19 cents and selling it for 9 cents,” Imlay said.

Imlay said more and more coal-fired power plants are going offline. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind cannot make up for the lost capacity.

Imlay recommended a 4% increase. Councilmember Darin Larson concurred.

“This gives us the ability to look at this again in a year or two and notice any trends,” Larson said. “If a citizen has a $50 power bill, it’s going to be $52 for that month. It will impact people marginally.”

The council passed a resolution in favor the 4% power rate increase.

New business

City Recorder Cindy Beteag asked the council to consider denying a business license for EV B&B.

Beteag said the owners had failed to renew their license this year, which meant they had to reapply. She noted during this period, the city received complaints from neighbors.

“The owners don’t live there,” Beteag said. “We received noise complaints.”

Beteag said the city did receive a new application from EV B&B owners. She sent a certified letter to the owners detailing the complaints and the city’s concerns.

“They haven’t responded,” Beteag said.

The council voted to deny the business license, leaving the door open for the owners to reapply and conform to the terms of the license.

Gould Wash and FEMA

Harmony Vanderhorst presented her argument for the issuance of building permits for her properties in the Gould Wash floodway. At issue is a Letter of Map Revision. FEMA issues LOMRs when it modifies a Flood Insurance Rate Map. The LOMR comes with a mandatory 90-day appeal period following such a modification. Vanderhorst asked the council to approve the permits prior to the appeal period so that she can start to build this October.

Vanderhorst reminded the council this project has been ongoing for a year and a half and that she has sunk thousands of dollars into it. During that time, every adjacent landowner was notified that Vanderhorst was petitioning to have her lots excluded from the floodway.

“No one objected,” Vanderhorst said.

Harmony Vanderhorst asks the council to grant a building permit ahead of a FEMA waiting period, August 5, 2021 | Photo by Darren Fraser, St. George News

Vanderhorst said she is entrenched in a second mitigation period. She believes FEMA is too far removed to accurately regulate local issues. She added the agency gives local government leeway to make decisions.

They (FEMA) aren’t here; they don’t live in this community,” Vanderhorst said. “None of them have this walked in Hurricane, walked this property. They just allow cities more leniency to care of your property, to take care of your area.”

City Engineer and Floodway Administrator Arthur LeBaron objected to Vanderhorst’s application to abrogate the second mitigation 90-day waiting period. He argued such a change could harm Hurricane’s FEMA National Flood Insurance Program rating.

LeBaron said he sympathized what Vanderhorst has been through dealing with FEMA.

“It’s not an easy process and the fee that FEMA charges just to submit an application is heinous,” LeBaron said.

LeBaron said what’s at issue is the affected floodway. Until the restrictions governing the floodway are changed, the city cannot issue building permits.

LeBaron cited from a letter he received from FEMA. He noted the first 90-day appeal period affected only the adjacent property owners, not the public at large. The current appeal period affects the public.

“Until the city adopts the effective (LOMR) change, then we don’t have any business give permits in a floodway,” LeBaron said.

Vanderhorst maintained that FEMA affords local communities the latitude to interpret FEMA statutes as they see fit. LeBaron disagreed. LeBaron read from a FEMA communication that states communities participating in the NFIP are required to adopt and enforce floodplain management and regulations that meet or exceed an NFIP criteria.

“So, we don’t have the ability to just kind of say ‘Oh, we think it’s okay,’” LeBaron said.

He reminded the council the 90 days must expire and then the city must adopt the LOMR.

If we respect the rule of law that says we have a 90-day appeal period, which I do, then I’m going to wait the 90-day appeal period,” LeBaron said.

The council voted in favor of granting the building permit, provided Vanderhorst signs a release of liability to the city in the event of damage incurred as a result of a flood in the wash.

Copper Rock Road name change

The council voted to change the name of Copper Rock Road to Cliff View Drive. The action was taken to accommodate the name designation for the new Copper Rock Parkway.

The council voted to continue deliberation on a zone change amendment request for the Silver Flats area. The council approved the last four agenda items concerning zone change amendments and preliminary plat request for various parcels in Hurricane.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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