Delta City planning and zoning board OKs measures to beef up city’s land use rules
Delta City is one step closer to adopting a host of new land use ordinances as well as a revamped zoning map after the city’s planning and zoning commissioners held a public hearing last week.
Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the changes to the city council.
A second public hearing on the changes is scheduled to take place Dec. 4, ahead of a council vote on the item.
City residents interested in looking over the proposed ordinance changes ahead of the meeting can pick up a draft copy of the proposed amendments at the city offices.
The city mailed copies of the proposed new zoning map to residents earlier this month.
The changes being considered amount to more than beefing up ordinances or changing the zoning map, however. It also includes doing away with the city’s traditional conditional use permitting process.
This was central to the planning commission’s Nov. 20 discussion on whether to recommend the changes or not.
The city’s current process is not in compliance with state law, according to Delta’s city attorney, Todd Anderson.
Commissioners were tasked with considering whether to replace the city’s conditional use permitting process with a more static set of approved land uses for the city’s various zones, and thus come into compliance with state code.
The current process allows commissioners to craft conditions on a per-application basis instead of laying out those conditions in advance.
State legislators were lobbied by developers to enact changes in state code that discouraged this practice a few years ago— it was seen as allowing favoritism and inequity to seep into the process in many municipalities across Utah.
The city could have chosen to continue to use conditional use permitting, but to be in compliance with state law it would have had to define myriad allowable or disallowable conditions for each zone in advance within the city’s code itself, a particularly laborious task that could pose all kinds of unforeseen issues, numerous officials have said.
By defining and adopting approved uses under the new method, the permitting process becomes more straightforward.
For example, under the proposed zoning map changes, a small engine repair shop is allowable in agricultural and rural residential zones, but not in low density or medium density single family residential zones or in multi-family residential zones. A community shopping center is allowed in the business commercial and highway commercial zones, but nowhere else. An adult oriented business is only allowed in one zone, the city’s industrial area and nowhere else.
If approved by the city council, developers of such businesses will now know in advance where such enterprises can be located.
If the city wishes at some point to allow a particular use not now defined or allowed in a particular proposed zone, it can always add such in the future at the request of citizens and by vote of the commission and city council.
Not everybody was enthused about doing away with the older conditional use permitting process.
Linda Sorensen, chair of the planning commission, said she thought the older method was more favorable in a rural community environment.
“There might be conditions that work (for some individuals), that’s all. That’s my thing,” she said. “I don’t think we should completely get rid of it.”
Sorensen said she researched what other municipalities of Delta’s size have and found that many retain a conditional use process.
Anderson stepped into the discussion to offer clarity. He said the city, by adopting the new ordinances and zoning map, wasn’t exactly doing away with conditional uses altogether, but was more streamlining how the city defines what can and cannot be done in certain zones.
“We are not taking out conditional use permits. We are just saying none of the uses in the use table require a conditional use permit. It’s either allowed or disallowed,” he said, later adding, “They’re not going away, we are just saying today that there are no uses that require a conditional use permit.”
The ordinance and zoning effort was spearheaded by a team of Brigham Young University urban and regional planning students.
Dr. Michael Clay, the students’ professor and a Hinckley native, spent some time during the public hearing portion of last week’s meeting answering questions from citizens. He thanked them for participating in the democratic process.
“We’ve had a series of six meetings, this is our seventh meeting now on this, working with the city staff, working with the planning commission, with the city council. I take my hat off to them and commend them on the work that they have done, to the countless hours they have put in,” he said.
Clay added commissioners and city staff consistently held land owners’ best interests at hand during the ordinance crafting process, which started in August.
“The planning commission came at this with the right mindset. The city staff came at this with the right mindset,” he said.
Numerous members of the public raised issues during the public hearing portion of last week’s meeting. Most left by the time planning commissioners got around to holding a vote.
Commissioners made a few slight revisions to the draft ordinances and map, based on public comment and mistakes spotted by officials and students.
The meeting was not without some conflict, however. An argument between Sorensen and Anderson over the conditional use permitting process was quickly doused when planning commissioner Linda Beard made a sudden motion to approve the draft map and draft ordinances with slight changes.
Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval to city council members—Randy Riding was the only member of the board not present for the vote—and the meeting ended.