‘We are not the steel plant’; Hurricane City denies Chums CEO’s request to change zoning, nightly rentals

Logan Hills makes his case to the Hurricane City Council, Hurricane, Utah, March 5, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

HURRICANE — The Hurricane City Council denied two agenda items Thursday night following a passionate outcry from the public that approving these items would jeopardize Hurricane’s rural character and create inconsistencies.

Nanette Billings at the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 5, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

The first item to be considered was a request made by Chums and had to do with making an amendment to the general map plan that would change the designation of five acres located at approximately 1800 West 3000 South from Agricultural/Rural residential to Business/ Light industrial.

Having already been unanimously denied by the city planning commission, Chums CEO Logan Hills said that Chums, which manufactures eyewear retainers and outdoor accesories, has been a part of the community since 1983, and that there has never been any complaints against them.

He furthered this by adding that one of the planning commission members said “you’re so quiet that we thought you’d been out of business and that building has been vacant.”

During the public hearing on this issue, a local resident, Alan Matte, said his main concern with this request had to do with furthering the damage caused by other operations such as the local cannabis growing sites that have come in and smothered the night skies.

“Apparently the state has control of the lighting, but we’ve lost our dark skies,” Matte said. “Once these properties start to turn to industrial, are we going to be the area where all the marijuana starts to be grown because of our weather here?”

Matte linked the marijuana growing sites with the need for the city to get ahead of a bigger issue when it comes to zoning changes.

Hurricane City Councilman Kevin Tervort, Hurricane City Mayor John Bramall and Councilwoman Nanette Billings during the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 5, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Hills said Hurricane is a prime location for his employees and that when they looked at all the change that was already happening in the area, “we thought that was something already happening.”

“We don’t want to leave Hurricane. It’s our namesake,” Hills said. “We even name a lot of our products after the different regions… We really take to heart where we’re from and we’ve been nothing but an amazing part of the community. We’ve never had any complaints. We’ve never had any problems.”

Councilwoman Nanette Billings said that the issue that the city has with changing the zone has nothing to do with the reputation of Chums. It has everything to do with the principle, that if they change the zoning for one business, it opens the door to others. Billings reiterated that the reason the planning commission unanimously voted no had nothing to do with the reputation of Chums.

“You’re saying we’ve been good in the community – you have. That has nothing to do with whether or not you’re going to have a good business,” Billings said. “It really is because of the actual zoning of the Ag and residential.”

Hills said he understood and felt the concerns were valid, but said that there are other business already out there and that it’s only a matter of time before more business expand out there.

“We look at this as an opportunity where we can stay here, be a part of the community, without having a negative impact. Some of the other problems are problems we have not caused,” Hills said. “Our relationship with Hurricane, I believe, speaks volumes for what we’re trying to do.”

Councilman David Sanders said he was concerned primarily with the drainage and suggested Hills explore for options in the industrial park near Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Hurricane City council members Darin Larson and Kevin Tervort at the meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 5, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“Where’s your runoff going to go? And when that develops, where’s the rest of it going to go? That’s the lowest spot in the valley,” Sanders said.

Councilman Kevin Tervort said he agreed with Billings and Sanders, adding that he envisioned that area along 3000 South inevitably becoming commercial not light industrial.

“I don’t want to start something out there that we can’t finish,” Tervort said. “And I think that’s what’s going to happen here.”

To which Hills said that changing that area to commercial would be more of a disruption than what Chums is looking to do.

“We are not the steel plant. We don’t have hazardous waste. We don’t have problems that are associated with other major manufacturing. This is extremely light. This is cutting and sewing,” Hills said. “We have been able to be downtown without any special setup.”

The council made it very clear throughout the session that they want Chums to stay in Hurricane and that their issue had nothing to do with any type of distrust in Chums. They proceeded to vote unanimously against the amendment for a variety of reasons that included the unanimous decision of the planning commission and the intention of keeping Hurricane rural.

Perry Development applicant, Greg Sant makes his case to the Hurricane City Council, Hurricane, Utah, March 5, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

The next major agenda item of consideration also had to do with a request for a zoning amendment.

The proposed amendment by Perry Development applicant, Greg Sant, would change 6.97 acres located east of 2670 West on the north side of 600 North within the Front 9 at Sky Mountain from condominiums to recreation, resort condominiums – referred to as the “nightly rentals” throughout the meeting.

“Basically that’s going to be a glorified motel,” resident Phil Young said during the public forum.

Young’s concern was largely about parking issues and that these nightly rentals would turn into a type of “sleep six” situation where there would be three couples staying in one unit, which would mean three vehicles and possible other recreation vehicles, he said.

After Young sat down, Hurricane City Mayor John Bramall asked the meeting attendees to raise their hands if their feelings were congruent with Young’s. Nearly every hand raised in the packed room.

There are 46 homes on 570 North that would be adversely effected with parking, traffic, crime and other problems related to resorts, said local resident Dale Bartmess.

“This change would not be consistent with what would be good for the neighborhood.”

Local resident Fred Hernandez speaks during the Public Forum at the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 5, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Local resident Fred Hernandez said that in the last 15 plus years since he’s been a Hurricane resident, he’s seen a lot of effort by the city to make sure that commercial, residential and industrial remain separated.

“There’s a reason for that. And you know about it. That’s your goal, right? To make a planned community,” Hernandez said. “This particular project puts a hotel right in the middle of a residential area.”

Sant, who had been turned down by the city in May for a similar request, said the prior denial had to do with his not understanding the full extent of the zone and asking for the zoning on around 35 acres that would have had more than 200 units associated with it. The units’ close proximity to Hole 6 had in large part been the reason for his previous denial, Sant said.

“I’ve tried to rectify that mistake by coming in with an application that’s only seven acres and has 84 units,” he said. He later added that it was his goal to help “the golf course become more profitable.”

Billings said that when they first brought up putting the golf course in, it was a hard subject for a lot of people. And it was the taxpayer dollars that paid for it. She added that it’s difficult to feel good about changing the plan when there have been so many homeowners who have spoken up about their not wanting to have vacation rentals there.

She also said that after having talked to some of the people at the golf course, she found out that “they are about to capacity.”

“If you get a lot more golfers, it could be more than what they could actually hold, and so then you don’t have the residents that live there that want to golf be able to get on,” she said. “And that’s a concern.”

In addition to this, and along with the issue with Chums, a main problem with this request, according to council members, had to with consistency. If the city approved the request to change zoning for seven acres, it would potentially give Sant and others leverage to request future changes.

To which Sant said: “I’m not dumb enough to think that it would be worth any of our time to come in to get any more after what happened last time, and even if I did come in, it’s going to be up to you whether it gets approved or not.”

“Actually, I think it’s the opposite,” Billings said.

Billings made a motion to deny the amendment request. Because council member Darin Larson was mostly absent during the discussion, he voted to abstain. The rest of the vote was split: Billings and Joseph Prete voted in favor of denying the request and Sanders and Tervort voted no. The decision came down to the Bramall, who voted in favor of the motion to protect the existing zoning.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!