ST. GEORGE – Vision Dixie met Thursday following Washington County’s Economic Summit, What’s Up Down South, at the Dixie Center St. George. The commission presented efforts made in implementing ten principles that help the municipal governments of Washington County coordinate values and collaborate to preserve Dixie’s landscape, quality, transportation and recreational potential.
Presenters included Santa Clara City Councilman Kenneth Sizemore, St. George Mayor Jon Pike, Washington County Commissioner Denny Drake, Leeds Mayor Wayne Peterson, Hurricane Mayor John Bramall, and Ivins Mayor Chris Hart.
Some criticism of Vision Dixie argued the amount of talking in the commission outweighs the amount of actual results.
“We knew that it was going to take time and the implementation was going to take time but it is in the process and it is working,” Drake said of the execution of the Vision Dixie principles.
Vision Dixie was created in 2006 as a means of collaborative direction for the growth of Southern Utah. They have amassed numerous meetings, approximately 3,000 residents in participation and ten principles which guide their processes.
The principles are:
- Plan Regionally, implement locally
- Maintain air and water quality and conserve water
- Guard our ‘signature’ scenic landscapes
- Provide rich, connected natural recreation and open space
- Build balanced transportation that includes a system of public transportation, connected roads and meaningful opportunities to bike and walk
- Get ‘centered’ by focused growth on walkable, mixed-use centers
- Direct growth inward
- Provide a broad range of housing types to meet the needs of all income levels, family types and stages of life.
- Reserve key areas for industry to grow the economic pie
- Focus public land conversion should sustain community goals and preserve critical lands
Noticeable items discussed that were a direct effect of Vision Dixie include a council of governments made up of mayors who are discussing efficient corridors, and a fund set up to purchase the land to preserve right-of-way planning for the future.
Hurricane has implemented air quality monitors and has zoned 1-acre to 5-acre lots to maintain its farming community.
Expansion of public trails has occurred in Santa Clara, Sizemore said. He hopes to one day be able to walk from Gunlock to Zion, he said, completely on designated trails.
St. George is making steps towards becoming a more walkable community, especially for students at Dixie State University. Housing projects are in the works for St. George that are close to the college and could potentially reduce the number of cars on campus.
Hart said Ivins is waiting for a bus which they have already purchased, that will travel from St. George to Ivins and back every 80 minutes during business hours. Ivins is also working towards making a portion of the Ivins Reservoir swimmable for the community, he said.
Steps have been taken to increase communication between cities, preserve landscapes through zoning and other methods and develop affordable housing.
After the presentations, questions were asked of the representatives.
Shannon Andersen asked what is to be done to help balance the population growth and the conservancy of water.
“Is it just unbridled growth, whatever comes we will take?” Andersen said. “Is there anyone looking at that?”
Drake said there are already limitations being set.
“For example, on a countywide level and with the help of the water conservancy district we have done a ground water study. This affects all the unincorporated areas,” Drake said. “For them to be able to now build in those areas would require 8 acres, because the water table and the problems with the septic and sewer. So there will be a limitation on the numbers that will be able to be built in those areas because of the study that was done.”
Commuter bike lanes were discussed and the dangers that cyclists currently face on the roadways.
“We have roads that are very dangerous for both automobile and bike traffic, one in particular that is a county road, Gunlock Road,” Drake said. “It’s a very difficult road to manage.”
To establish bike lanes, funds must be appropriated. “One of the problems with roads and the bike safety,” Drake said, “is those roads are paid for by you as consumers putting gas in your cars; and by state law, we provide the same service to the bike rider without the contribution.”
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