ST. GEORGE – The St. George City Council approved a resolution for the sale of $10 million worth of government bonds to help finance the construction of the Mall Drive Bridge in a council meeting Thursday night. The City Council also heard recommendations for a proposed ordinance regulating the use of storage containers.
Mall Drive Bridge
St. George City Manager Gary Esplin recommended the City Council approve a resolution which would allow the city to sell $10 million worth of 15-year-term bonds for the purpose of providing funding for the Mall Drive Bridge. The proposed bridge, which has been in the works for the last seven years, would be a part of an extension of Mall Drive that would span the Virgin River and intersect with 3000 East in Washington Fields.
“The need for finishing the Mall Drive Bridge is extremely important to the master plan of the city,” Esplin said, in that he believes it is the only viable alternative to alleviate traffic issues on River Road.
The bonds will require $750,000 annually and are supported by franchise tax revenues. Esplin noted there is already $750,000 in the current 2013-14 budget to apply to the bonds.
“I’d like to see this go as quickly as we can while the market is still in our favor,” he said.
Timing surrounding the bridge is critical due to market and other factors, Esplin told the council. It is also anticipated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon give the OK for construction in the Virgin River. While waiting on that approval, the city will call for open bids for the bridge construction around Oct. 8.
The city is also currently working with two separate property owners who have land that the projected road will run through.
If the federal agency gives the thumbs up on the project and everything falls into place, work on the bridge could begin in January 2014 and possibly be completed within a year, Esplin said.
If the Fish and Wildlife Service does not give approval in the near-future however, the next window of opportunity for the city will be in August 2014.
The council unanimously passed the resolution for sale of the bonds.
Storage container ordinance
The city council also heard recommendations from the planning commission for zoning regulations regarding storage containers that had been drafted into a proposed ordinance.
Cargo containers can be from 20-to-50 feet long and weigh several tons empty. Due to the security and durability they offer, cargo containers have become popular means of temporary storage at construction sites, or places of long-term storage in commercial and agricultural settings.
Concern over the use of the containers in residential areas is a different matter, however, and led to the creation of the proposed ordinance.
Scott Roper, owner of Kustom Containers, told the city council during the meeting that the cargo containers are much more resilient and secure than a standard shed. Due to its weight as well, a container isn’t likely to be blown apart by a strong wind.
About the only drawback to a using a cargo container for storage, Roper said, is the fact it’s not always aesthetically pleasing to the neighbors.
“I’d hate to see any regulation on containers,” Roper said, although he said he understood the needs for potential aesthetic requirements if a container were placed in a residential area – something his company actually discourages.
The planning commission held a public hearing in May concerning the containers. Until this year, the city has had no formal standing on where a cargo container could and could not be kept within the city, or how they should be maintained. The only reason the city officials started to look into the matter is because someone approached them about putting a container on their property which was in a residential area.
While various recommendations were made by the planning commission concerning the containers, the city council voted to continue the public hearing to a later date. Both members of the council and the public wanted more time to review the ordinance and the differing sets of regulation it proposes.
“We’ve got some work we can do on this,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.
In the meantime, Mayor Dan McArthur said the proposed ordinance would be set up on the city’s website for public review and a future public hearing.
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