‘We should not abandon this’: Ivins weighs changing rule on exterior colors of homes

IVINS — While making no final decision at their Thursday meeting, Ivins City Council members called a spirited and emotional debate about changing the city’s ordinance over the brightness of the exterior color of homes. 

Homes in Ivins, Utah, seen against the backdrop of its landscape, March 24, 2022 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The council debated a recommendation by the city’s planning commission to eliminate light reflective value (LRV)  from the city’s code concerning the exterior of homes. A vote on whether to approve the recommendation was tabled to a later meeting, but that came after the mayor and council members spoke about the city’s visual history and character. 

Light reflective value, also known as light reflectance value, is a scientific term referring to the amount of visible light that is reflected off a painted surface. The rule as it stands says the materials on exterior walls of homes must be between an LRV of seven, which is the value of shaded vegetation, and 38 – or the reflective value of red sandstone. 

Citing LRV as being more subjective depending on light condition, the planning commission recommended at a recent meeting to eliminate it entirely from city ordinances and consider replacing it with a specific group of recommended colors.

While only having a vote in the case of a tie, Ivins Mayor Chris Hart still warned about making changes to the ordinance, citing the importance of homes and buildings in the city blending in with the natural environment.

Hart mentioned an instance before he was in city government as a developer to conform to the ordinance, saying it ultimately made his development “10 times better.” He motioned to the color of Red Mountain, which can be seen outside the window of the council chamber. 

Ivins Mayor Chris Hart speaks at the Ivins City Council meeting, Ivins, Utah, March 24, 2022 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“I don’t care what the fashion colors are, that mountain doesn’t change,” Hart said. “Colors come and go. Right now, it’s black and white. Who knows, in 10 years it might be pastel colors.

“This is not an ordinary city. This is not an ordinary place. This is a natural park backdrop. We are stewards of this and have every right to protect this place. We have to protect this mountain. As stewards of this, we should not abandon this.”

Council member Lance Anderson said while he appreciated the need for property rights, he said those rights have to take into account the character of the community. 

“Property rights are what we agree to when we move to a community,” Anderson said. “To have other people move in and say they want to change that, I have a problem with it.”

Council member Jenny Johnson at the Ivins City Council meeting, Ivins, Utah, March 24, 2022 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

However, council member Jenny Johnson, who among council members has lived in Ivins the longest, fought back tears over what she said were concerns that people who don’t want to be locked into a certain group of colors should have a say as well.

“I go back to the days of our early people who came here. People built yellow homes and pink homes and blue homes and people didn’t hate that, they loved it,” Johnson said. “I think it’s gotten to the point where we’re so worried about what other people are doing that we don’t respect other people. I heard the word impose. We’re imposing things on people. It may be ugly but I believe in their right to do that.”

Hart later thanked Johnson for “showing not everybody in the community is the same” and finding a better solution. 

The council tabled a vote to discuss it further at a later meeting.

“The object is to strike a balance between what Jenny was talking about and what I was yammering on about,” Hart said.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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