ESCALANTE – Escalante’s city council met during their regular meeting time on November 21, with all members and city attorney Barry Huntington present. The meeting opened up with a public hearing on a number of different items. A few citizens in addition to the council members held discussions on the topics.
First up was Escalante’s renewal application to be an Enterprise Zone. Mayor Torgersen explained that the city has had Enterprise Zone status for ten years, and renewals occur every five years. Under Utah’s Enterprise Zone program, which was established in 1988, certain types of businesses locating to, or expanding in, a town designated as an Enterprise Zone may claim state income tax credits provided in the law. Tax credits for new full time employees and for capital investments are available through the program—with businesses needing to meet various criteria to qualify.
Comments from the council as well as citizens were positive in response to the reapplication, and following the hearing the council approved the Enterprise Zone re-application.
The council then heard comment regarding a proposal for an ordinance to prohibit retail tobacco specialty businesses. One business owner stated that the prohibition seemed unnecessary, as it was unlikely that such a business would open in the town due to lack of economic stainability—citing studies that said it requires a population of thousands to support such a shop. Such a move might simply seem anti-business. Other commenters said they felt that nevertheless, it might be good to preempt such an establishment should the situation ever arise, largely due to the unregulated–and in addition, harmful—nature of many of the products sold in these stores.
The council subsequently unanimously approved the ordinance prohibiting specialty tobacco retail businesses.
The council forwarded a proposal to establish an ordinance to allow the city to hire a City Manager. Mayor Torgersen said the city has no plans at this time to hire a manager, but the ordinance allows them to do so, should they see it as desirable. She explained that a city manager serves as a liaison between the council and the city’s administrative office, and has no decision making authority.
The council, following the hearing unanimously passed the ordinance.
There was a greater level of discussion regarding the final public hearing item, a proposal to amend the city dog ordinance. The amendment included just one proposed change, requiring two complaints from two separate households about a dog or dogs—instead of just one complainant. The discussion opened up to other elements of the current city dog ordinance, with some suggesting that the current intervals of 15 minutes and 30 minutes for documenting barking behaviors was too steep a requirement. Others noted that regardless of how dog nuisances are measured, that the lack of enforcement of the current dog ordinance has been a longstanding problem in the city—it was suggested that enforcement measures be stepped up and followed through, including fines enforced against offending parties. Council members discussed the proposed (two household complainant) amendment specifically, and determined that requiring two complaints from different households could be onerous—if one party is aggrieved and does not have other neighbors close by, this person or household would have no recourse.
It was suggested that the council review other local dog ordinances and table the current amendment and bring this discussion back to the table when they have further information. The council subsequently voted unanimously to do that.
It was mentioned briefly during this discussion that the city is planning to build a dog kennel to help with dog ordinance enforcement, but a location and funding have yet to be identified.
The hearing closed and the city heard a few personal public comments. Elaine Lott mentioned that the city’s Christmas lights look great; she inquired about where things are at with UDOT to possibly restripe Main Street to slow down traffic, and as a member of the city’s planning and zoning board, she wondered how much holding a public hearing (such as the one just held) costs, because she thinks it might be a good idea for P&Z to hold hearings on certain topics if the cost is not too much to do so.
One citizen requested that the city make some of the city’s action items for review more accessible (an example being the Enterprise Zone application), and perhaps more items could be posted on the web site. City recorder Stephanie Steed said that they do post that people can come in to the office to obtain documents related to city business.
Another citizen raised a concern about high speed chases on Main Street by the county’s sheriff deputies when they are pulling people over for traffic infractions. The concern is about kids or tourists or anyone who is not expecting a fast moving vehicle stepping into the street at the wrong time. The deputies do not use their sirens when pulling people over in town and the suggestion was perhaps they should do so if they are moving fast.
Another citizen noted that the metal roofing on the stables at the rodeo grounds blows around in the wind and could come flying off and hurt someone, and it might be a good idea if the loose pieces got screwed down or cut off. Council members responded that the Escalante Riding Club is responsible for maintenance on the buildings and they will look into it.
A couple of zoning items were considered. A conditional use permit requested by Gary Griffin for a retail business located at his home on 100 North was tabled by the P&Z. The location is currently zoned RR 120 and council member Marlene Stowe, representing the P&Z on their decision to table, said they were “not comfortable” with the change to a commercial retail business at that location.
Dacie Barney has requested a conditional use permit to operate a salon at Ronda Barney’s home. The city indicated that Ronda Barney would need to submit a letter of consent and she has done that. The city council approved the conditional use permit.
The city approved a capital improvements list (which The Insider will publish when finalized by the city recorder).