Category Archives: Land Use
The University of Utah’s Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, in the College of Architecture and Planning, is offering free or low cost open space workshops for communities in Northern Utah. Contact Sumner Swaner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-712-3120 to set up one for your community!
ULCT ended November and started December with the Land Use Task Force, a water nutrient meeting at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Newly Elected trainings, and other meetings.
Land Use Task Force
The Land Use Task Force took and unexpected twist last week as it learned that Sen. Niederhauser’s Transfer Fees Bill had been offered to address Legislative Interim testimony that had accused a certain Wasatch Back County of cronyism in its administration of its land use code. Sen. Niederhauser quickly acknowledged that while a good transfer fee bill may be beneficial legislation, he was looking for a deeper inquiry into how to stem the appearance of limitless discretion and the potential for cronyism in land use administration. His concern appears to be with those few counties that grant urban densities in unincorporated areas, without clear methods. After a fair amount of pointed discussion, it appeared that he was focused on an aberration and that he did not intend to undermine land use discretion generally. Needless to say, this turn of events captured the group’s attention for most of the meeting. Look for this issue to carry over into next interim’s discussions.
The group added direction to the Eminent Domain for Trails bill, requesting additional restrictions on the use of condemnation with respect to trail lengths and multi-jurisdiction trails. The PRC also identified opposition within its ranks that the ULCT will attempt to quell before the session begins. The Task Force also approved the revisions to the Impact Fees bill and the Development Standards bill. Both bills are off to Leg Research. The last Task Force meeting for the interim is scheduled for Monday, December 12 at 2:30 p.m. after LPC. At that meeting, we hope to achieve a resolution for the Fines for Nuisance abatement issue, and to get to consensus on Sen. Niederhauser’s Transfer Fee bill.
Late in the week, we learned that the State Engineer’s Office intended to pursue a bill to reverse the Jensen v. Jones and Big Ditch decisions without addressing certain serious concerns identified by the ULCT over the interim. This is a bold move on the State Engineer’s part because legislators, who are known for their expertise in water and who are also keenly interested in these issues, have relied on the State Engineer’s promise to resolve issues that the ULCT has raised.
Water nutrient Core Group:
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality invited ULCT to represent local government on its internal Nutrient Core Group. The Division of Water Quality is developing a plan for establishing quality standards for nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus. This week’s meeting brought together several potential stakeholders. First, science representatives explained the potential negative impact of excess nitrogen and phosphorous on humans, drinking water, biology, water recreation, and the environment. For example, the excess nutrients could lead to the death of plants, animals, and fish, and threats to human health. Second, agricultural representatives expressed concern that increased nutrient regulations would increase the cost on Utah farmers and ranchers. Third, a representative of Publicly Owned Treatment Works argued that the potential regulations could cost local governments and special service districts over $1 billion to comply. Only a handful of water treatment facilities in Utah utilize the most modern technology, and the Division of Water Quality subsidized the construction of several of those facilities with grant money. The next meeting will be January 12 and ULCT will continue to fight state and federal unfunded mandates on local government and maintain water quality.
Newly Elected Training
ULCT went to Logan on Saturday morning to meet nearly 80 new council members from 18 different cities and towns. The legislative team explained ULCT’s role at the legislature and how ULCT will communicate legislative updates to our members via our website. We also explained our new federal outreach and sought recommendations for questions for the congressional delegation. We hope that we didn’t overwhelm the new officials—approximately 150 upcoming bills, state and federal unfunded mandates, and budget shortfalls—and we appreciated their attention, interest, and community service.
As the legislative season quickly approaches, crunch time is upon us. We had several meetings this week to discuss legislative issues that are included in the proactive legislative agenda that has been established by the ULCT Policy Committee. Here is a quick run-down of the items/meetings.
The land use taskforce met again this week, and they are quickly settling in on all of the details related to that agenda. We will be sending out final bill drafts in short order, but it should be a pretty small list. So far, we have successfully negotiated away a bill dealing with code enforcement, settled on agreed language for a bill to clarify legal provisions related to apartment dwellings and the number of unrelated individuals that can live in a single-unit, settled on a bill that will simply require us to provide notice (if requested) for developmental standard changes, and pushed off several other items that were being pursued by the development community.
We are still in the middle of negotiations on a few other items including: Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) process and billboard regulation issues. We will keep you apprised of the progress on those items.
In addition to the land-use taskforce, we also had an internal mid-week meeting with city manager’s group, attorney’s group, and others to discuss several other items that we are following. Those items include: tax distribution and tax base issues, transportation funding issues, justice court judge retirement issues and several other items. The most important news out of that meeting is that we were able to successfully push off the legislative attempt to push tax distribution changes. Several key legislators that are engaged in that discussion have agreed to work with us on a better identification of the concerns they have (predominantly economic development concerns) and a more extensive evaluation of possible solutions to the perceived problems. So that issue won’t be discussed during this month’s interim meetings, as we continue to discuss the item further. We would like to thank, Rep. Greg Hughes, Sen. Curt Bramble, Sen. Stuart Adams, and Sen. Howard Stephenson for their willingness to work with us on these issues.
Lastly we had a great opportunity to meet with several key legislators on some of our top issues. In addition to the names listed above, we met with Sen. Adams on economic development and tax issues, Sen. Stevenson on our pawnshop bill and ongoing transportation initiatives, Sen. Niederhauser on TDR’s and land-use issues, and continued our ongoing conversations with Rep. Sanpei on a land-use issue he is helping us with in Provo.
Lastly, we had a great opportunity to celebrate Veteran’s Day this week and also had the Governor’s Annual Gala to cap off the end of the week… all-in all a very productive week.
This week will be one of the same, with meetings scheduled all week to include all-day interims on Wednesday, appropriations meetings on Tuesday and several other internal meetings to discuss specific issues for the ULCT membership throughout the week to include further discussions on land-use, billboard issues and transportation funding/coordination issues.
Please call or write with any questions you may have.
Your ULCT Lobby Team.
Urban Land Use Institute:
ULCT’s Jodi Hoffman, Meg Ryan, and Cameron Diehl (plus other city officials) attended the Land Use Institute conference on October 12. Jodi presented a legislative preview of land use and water issues and moderated a discussion on HOAs. Salt Lake City’s Neil Lindberg gave a case law update. Spanish Fork’s Junior Baker explained the municipal perspective on billboard policy. Ogden’s Mark Stratford detailed the municipal impact of the recent Jensen v. Jones water decision. He said cities require developers bring water rights to the city before the city will approve the development. The water right must go through the change application process at the State Engineer’s office, but often the city subdivision approval process is completed prior to the state engineer process. The State Engineer may decide that the water right could have been subjected to forfeiture for historical or statutory reasons and thus only approve a portion of the water right. Cities, however, would then be “on the hook” to provide water for the development. Thus cities are concerned about the timing, the role of the State Engineer’s office as the investigator and adjudicator, and creating a more defined process in statute for what the State Engineer can and cannot do in determining the validity of the water right.
Broadband Advisory Council:
The Broadband Advisory council met and discussed progress that has been made with respect to broadband deployment to Utah. Lincoln spoke to the council about a presentation that he will be making to the Public Utilities Interim Committee on October 19th. Lincoln, with UDOT, UEN and DTS will be presenting on what is currently being done with fiber deployment by each organization and how they are currently sharing fiber. The rest of the meeting was presentations given to the Broadband Advisory Council by UEN and Utah State Library.
Governors Advisory Council for Optimization State Government
The meeting was held up at the State Capitol and discussed the different areas that needed agency alignment. There were two areas that we at the League were asked to look at and see if there were benefits to consolidating or realigning. The first area would be in the interaction between local governments and the DABC the second area is creating a better collaboration of fiber deployment between all branches of government. We suggested DABC create an “Outreach/interface” subcommittee along with a “How to” handbook for economic development. As far as fiber deployment we talked about some small efficiencies that can be made with fiber deployment.
Joint Highway Committee Meeting:
On Friday, Lincoln attended the Joint Highway Committee meeting in Vernal, UT. This committee is charged with the disbursement and prioritization of certain transportation funds within the state. Lincoln provided a brief legislative update on transportation issues and took the opportunity to discuss critical municipal transportation issues with Sen. VanTassell of Vernal and Sen. Okerlund, of Monroe…ensuring that any transportation funding increases be shared with local governments for ongoing construction, maintenance and preservation.
In addition to the meetings listed above, staff also conducted three internal meetings this week to settle in on our legislative strategy related to land use issues, justice court issues, and issues related to local tax authority.
Next week will be a busy week for the ULCT with our monthly Legislative Policy Committee meeting on October 17th, Legislative Redistricting meetings on the 17th and 18th and Legislative Interims on October 19th. We have several items on the interim agenda and will report on those issues in next week’s report.
Please call if you have any questions.
Your ULCT Legislative Team
Last week in the New York Times Allison Arieff wrote an interesting blog post about the 20th century growth in the suburbs and subsequently some recent challengs of foreclosures and empty big box stores. Ms. Arieff doesn’t really provide a solution to these potential problems, but she writes:
I still dream that some major overhaul can occur: that a self-sufficient mixed-use neighborhood can emerge. That three-car-garaged McMansions can be subdivided into rental units with streetfront cafés, shops and other local businesses.
Definitely much of the recent population growth in Utah has occured in the suburbs. And while some of these communities are hurting with the economic downturn and the slowing of residential construction many others are thriving and beginning to reshape their communities in more than just bedroom cities with larger homes and lot sizes. It appears suburban cities that are weathering this economic storm the best are cities that have already started a shift toward mixed-use neighborhoods.
Today Ms. Arieff follows up the previous post with a second blog titled “Saving the Suburbs, Part 2”. This post reviews many of the comments from previous readers and highlights a tension between urbanites and suburbanites. I don’t see quite the same dissonance between urban and suburban communities in Utah, although it can and does exist. Most people don’t realize that Utah is a very urban state — ranking in the top 10 in America, around half of Utah’s statewide population live along the Wasatch Front. You can read both parts of this interesting blog here: