County Commission tables subdivision ordinance, appoints HCP board members

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Commission voted against a proposed county subdivision ordinance at their regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting, opting instead to continue working on the ordinance. Commissioners also appointed three members to the Habitat Conservation Advisory Committee.

As part of the work on the subdivision ordinance, county officials have been working to clarify and standardize design standards and the process by which subdivisions in unincorporated areas of the county are reviewed and approved.

In addressing the commission on Tuesday, Washington County Community Development Director Scott Messel said that there is no longer a requirement for a residence to have a hard telephone — or land line — in some of the remote areas of the county.

“Technology has changed enough since the last time the ordinance was amended that if cell service could be provided onsite, that that would be an option,” Messel said.

Commissioner Zachary Renstrom said that another proposed change which has generated a lot of positive feedback is that residents will no longer be required to submit an electrical plan, giving people an opportunity to install alternative energy such as solar panels.

The ordinance proposed at Tuesday’s meeting also adds a requirement for residents building in rural areas to have a fire protection plan in keeping with Utah’s Wildland Urban Interface Code. Although already mandated by state law, the requirement was not previously written in the ordinance.

Changes are also proposed regarding the requirements for curb, gutter and sidewalks in rural subdivisions. Previously, the ordinance specified certain areas of the county as exempt from having to install curb and gutter in new subdivisions; however, the commission could waive the requirement.

Messel said the process was too arbitrary, so the planning commission looked at ways to make the requirements clearer. One approach would be to set the requirement for curb, gutter and sidewalk by zone, meaning it would be required for lots that were 1 acre or smaller. However, Commissioner Alan Gardner said the resulting language in the ordinance was still not clear enough.

“With the curb and gutter, when I read through that, I was still confused,” Gardner said.

Other adjustments under consideration relate to frontage and lot width requirements. No changes are proposed for existing properties or land that is zoned for commercial use.

The commission did not approve the proposed ordinance, instead deciding to keep working on the matter.

Habitat Conservation Advisory Committee appointments

During Tuesday’s meeting, the commission also appointed three board members to the Habitat Conservation Advisory Committee. The Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan was created in 1996 and designated 62,000 acres of land for the desert tortoise.

Hurricane Mayor John Bramall, who had previously been serving on the committee, was nominated again by area mayors to fill the position representing municipal interests.

Former Ivins Mayor Chris Blake, now of the Virgin River Land Preservation Association, was nominated again as an environmental representative on the committee. Blake originally began serving on the committee when the Habitat Conservation Plan was formed, then took a leave of absence and returned to the committee in the environmental position.

Habitat Conservation Plan administrator Bob Sandberg said that no other group submitted a recommendation, although any environmental organization located in Washington County can make a nomination for the board.

The Bureau of Land Management nominated Dawna Ferris-Rowley to fill the BLM position on the committee. Ferris-Rowley has been serving on the Habitat Conservation Plan board since BLM St. George Field Office Manager Jimmy Tyree left the BLM approximately a year ago. Tyree’s position has since been filled by Brian Tritle.

All three nominations were approved by the County Commission.

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