ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Commission said farewell to outgoing Commissioner Alan Gardner and denied a request for a variance in Dammeron Valley at a regular meeting Tuesday.
The commission began the meeting by presenting Gardner with a resolution thanking him for 20 years of dedicated service as Washington County Commissioner.
“I’d like to thank you personally for the friendship, for the opportunity to be able to work with you,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “You’ve been such a great mentor to me personally, and I know that Zach (Renstrom) will say the same thing.”
“Not just that, but you’re just a great person,” Iverson said.
Gardner was sworn into office in 1997, Iverson said, and brought a viewpoint of someone who had run cattle in and around Washington County all of his life. Gardner has never lost sight of the importance of preserving the rich heritage of the county.
“Whereas everyone always knows where they stand with Alan; his integrity and conviction to conservative principles is beyond reproach,” Iverson read from the resolution.
“Whereas Alan’s calm and respectful temperament will always stand as an example of how best to address emotionally charged situations in a way that allows people with varying perspectives to sit down and have meaningful conversations.”
“That’s been a great lesson for me, Alan,” Iverson laughed. “I’ve learned that one often from you – thank you.”
Gardner dedicated countless hours to the county and was often the first into the office and the last to leave, Iverson said; he helped several newly elected commissioners understand their role and duties including James Eardley, Jay Ence, Denny Drake and current commissioners Iverson and Zachary Renstrom.
The commission denied a request from Heath Snow of the Dammeron Corporation for a variance from county standards for the Juniper Ridge subdivision in Dammeron Valley.
Developers of the subdivision wanted the county to approve a road-width of only 24 feet, rather than the county standard of 28 feet and also allow a different arrangement of utilities, ditches, pedestrian and horse paths.
The request was based on an “unusual conditions” clause in the county subdivision building code. Snow asked for the variance because of the “undulating” topography and the number of trees in the proposed subdivision.
The Washington County Planning Commission previously denied the request, so the matter was referred to the commission.
The proposed subdivision contains only six lots, however, more than 50 are eventually planned.
Snow told the commission a 70-foot swath would have to be cut for the road and that would detract from the beauty of the area.
County officials, however, were not anxious to approve a variance for the subdivision and possibly set a precedent for future requests.
In addition, the narrower road would pose safety concerns and make the road degrade faster, county public works director Ron Whitehead said.
After a lot of discussion, the commission denied the variance but asked planner Scott Messel to immediately begin work on offering some options in the county code that could address situations like Juniper Ridge and other unique areas of the county.
“I totally agree that our standards need to be adjusted,” Renstrom said. “Our county is so unique, we need different options there. You think of Kolob, you think of Pine Valley, we need more options for our staff to utilize without coming to a variance.”
Iverson recused himself from the discussion and the vote.
The commission approved a final budget for 2016 and the 2017 budget of $31 million, a 1.8 percent increase over the previous year. The increase is due to additional property tax revenue from growth in the county.
The 2017 budget includes a 2 percent wage increase for county employees along with increased spending on the county public defender and tourism and recreation funds.
Tourism office spending jumps from $5.7 million to $9.5 million in 2017; the county recreation fund is also up at $7.4 million from 2016’s $4.8 million. Both funds come from hotel and restaurant taxes and must be spent on tourism and recreation projects.
No one commented at the public hearing held before the commission approved the 2016 and 2017 budgets.
The Commission approved a resolution to compensate Dennis Iverson for the loss of grazing rights in the Long Valley area. A trade was completed in October between the Bureau of Land Management and developer Bob Brennan in which 605 acres in Long Valley was traded for 80 acres owned by Brennan which is within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
Dennis Iverson held 212 animal unit months, or AUMs, on the Long Valley property. An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.
The Commission looked at the price paid for grazing permits on the open market in the past decade before offering Dennis Iverson $115 per animal unit for a total of $24,380. The offer was accepted.
The Commission contracted with MRW Design Associates Inc. for up to $45,000 for architectural design services relating to a planned remodeling of the Washington County Administration Building, located at 197 E. Tabernacle Street in St. George.
MRW Design’s previous projects include the Washington County Justice Center, the Children’s Justice Center’s operational center and the Washington County Senior Citizens Center.
The County Commission appointed members to several boards including Snow Canyon Joint Management Committee, Southwest Regional Response and Coordination Team, Southwest Utah Board of Health, the Rockville/Springdale Special Service District, Specially Funded Transportation Special Service District Board, Five County Aging and Nutrition Services Advisory Board, Angel Springs Special Service District Board and the RAP Disbursement Advisory Board.
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