2020-07-07 Grand County Council meeting preview

Dear Grand County Residents,

I hope your 4th of July Weekend was relaxing and invigorating! I spent a few days off-grid and it was a nice break. It’s looking like we will have a comparatively brief County Council meeting this week. It will begin at 4pm this Tuesday, July 7th. The 137-page packet can be accessed HERE. You may view and listen to the meeting live by searching YouTube for “Grand County Utah Government” or by clicking HERE.

County Council Meeting 4pm 

Citizens to be Heard: As always, the first item on the agenda is Citizens to be Heard. Here are the instructions to give comments:

  • We are receiving public comments by phone and online through Zoom.
  • Dial: (669) 900 – 6833    Meeting ID: 885 4273 6299 #
  • Password (if needed): 622813
  • Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88542736299?pwd=aTFPSlhzTE1PMnZQVStGN2lrd082dz09
  • Please note that when joining the meeting, you will be placed in a waiting room and will be added to the meeting by the moderator. Your comments will be recorded and on YouTube.

Item C: Presentation from the Local Homelessness Coordinating Committee an increase in the homeless population in Grand County (Dr. Lauren Prest, Moab Regional Hospital and Sara Melnicoff, Moab Solutions). There are no pages associated with this item in the packet. The topic will be presented by two in our community who are thoroughly familiar with the homeless population in Grand County.

Item E, p.22: Approving public comment to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the September 2020 oil and gas sale (Councilmember Clapper). Packet materials for this item begin on page 22 and the letter begins on page 23 and lays out the reasoning for the recommended opposition to the September sales.

Item F, p.28: Approving Grand County and South Eastern Utah Health Department’s Face Covering Order for Grand County (Brady Bradford, Health Director and Christina Sloan, County Attorney). You may remember last week’s discussion and vote to send a recommendation to Governor Herbert that Grand County be allowed to require face coverings in public indoor spaces. The Governor approved that recommendation and a vote on the actual order will be taken at this meeting. You can read the order on page 28 of the packet.

Item I, p.38: Adopting a proposed resolution approving the Phase 1 Final Plat of the Peak View Subdivision, a high-density housing overlay, located at 3640 South Spanish Valley Drive (Mila Dunbar-Irwin, Planning and Zoning Administrator). This 20-acre parcel located at 3640 Spanish Valley Drive  was granted the HDHO-10 (High Density Housing Overlay/10 units per acre) nearly two years ago. The purpose of this item is to adopt the Resolution approving the Phase 1 Final Plat. The full development includes 127 units, approximately 100 of which will be deed restricted for local workforce housing.

Updates and Looking Ahead

The following two topics were discussed at the Special County Council Meeting held last week. What follows is a summary that I cut and pasted from another update I saw that did an accurate job of portraying the discussion content. No votes were taken – discussions to be continued…

Restructuring Building Inspection, Planning and Zoning, and Active Transportation and Trails as divisions under a department titled “Grand County Community Development Department”. 

  • Chris Baird, County Administrator noted that County organizational chart is very horizontal and needs verticality (best management practice). This could help free up County Administrator office to do more big picture/visionary/executive work. County will soon change form of government and county administrator position will likely become a county executive position with more executive authority; thus, getting department heads in place with more verticality will make the transition easier. No rush to restructure immediately, but keep in mind for future changes.
  • General consensus that Economic Development should be removed from the Planning and Zoning Director’s job description; now is a good time to make that change since Zacharia is leaving and his job description is being re-written, . Brief discussion of perhaps moving Active Trails and Transportation out of P&Z and into Sand Flats Recreation Area division.
  • Agreed to advertise for Planning & Zoning Director, which will be grade 18. County Administrator will draft job description for approval by GCC and start advertising. Want to have someone on board by the time Zacharia leaves in first week in August.

Re-titling the “Moab Area Travel Council” to “Grand County Economic Development Department”, and expanding the duties of such department to include diversified economic development activities alongside the establishment of tourism, recreation, and film.

  • Consensus that in the short term, Elaine Gizler, Travel Council director, has the expertise and can handle the grant applications that fund the County’s economic development activities. Also agreed that GCC needs to articulate objectives and benchmarks for economic development and diversity if we’re going to have an Economic Development Department and that GCC needs to reach out to City, USU, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Also noted that perhaps some of the Travel Council’s TRT (transient room tax) revenues could be used for promoting economic development in the future.

Other Updates

Grand Valley – Rezone: This rezone involves property between Highway 191 and Plateau Drive. It is currently accessed from Skyline Drive. There are just over 19 acres of land across three land use zones (Large Lot Residential, General Business, Highway Commercial). The developer is proposing a rezone of just under 16 acres to Multi-Family Residential (MFR) which would result in between 128 units or 224 units of housing (depending on who you ask). It received an unfavorable recommendation from the Planning Commission. Currently the property houses a 60 unit dorm style housing for Western River employees. County Council will most likely not see this rezone application for at least a month due to staffing shortages in the Planning and Zoning Department and the County Attorney’s Office. I will keep you posted.

Sundance Village HDHO: This received a favorable recommendation from the  Planning Commission but will probably not be brought to the Council for at least a month. I will keep you posted on this as well. Formerly Sandstone Cottages, (Glen Lent / Alpine Development) is requesting a 42 lot High Density Housing Overlay subdivision (2 lots additional to a previously approved 40 lot HDHO subdivision) on a 4.28-acre parcel at 3058 and 3060 Spanish Valley Drive. 

COVID-19 Case Counts: According to the Southeast Utah Health District, Grand County has added 6 active cases to 13 recovered  for a total of 19 COVID-19 cases. Statewide (Utah Coronavirus Update), we’ve had a record breaking day of 660 new cases reported Saturday. There are 24,952 cases (up 3,852 since last week’s update); 1,582 hospitalizations (up 186); and 184 deaths (up 17) as of today, July 5, 2020

Yellow Phase: Ten counties across Utah have moved to the GREEN (new normal phase; Salt Lake City is in ORANGE; the rest of the State, including Grand County remains YELLOW. See a county by county map by clicking HERE). On this map you will note that Summit and Salt Lake Counties have enacted a mandatory face coverings order. Phased guidelines for the different color coding can be found by clicking on these different colors: GREEN (new normal)YELLOW (low risk)ORANGE (moderate risk). Individuals that are considered high risk should take additional precautions.

COVID-19 data site: Finally, I’m leaving you with the link to a web page that I sent out a couple of months ago and I’ve just rediscovered it. I encourage you to go to THIS SITE and click around. Unlike some of the Covid-19 maps we have, this one lists cases and deaths on a ‘per-capita’ basis (cases per 100,000 people). It’s interesting to note that Utah has a higher per-capita rate of disease than other hotspot areas such as Texas or California. And it lists data by county, metro areas, or states. Plus the map will do an animation of the progress of Covid-19 from the beginning of the pandemic until now. It’s quite interesting to watch and clearly see the date or time period when a particular state or county ‘explodes’ in terms of active cases. Give it a try and if you have any questions, I refer you to Kevin Walker, the creator of the page.

That’s all I have for now. I apologize for the length of the update and for any typos that I missed. Thanks so much for your comments and input!

Jaylyn Hawks
Grand County Council
District 3