Grand County Commission Meeting Report 2020-11-17

The agenda and packet for this meeting can be found here.

SEUHD COVID19 report by Brady Brandon. GC is now at ~20% positive rate. Four new contact tracers were hired, but still difficult to keep up with new cases. Household exposure (people living in house and/or visitors to house staying for ~ a day or more) account for more than 50% of GC’s cases currently. Quarantines adjusted to focus on first 7 days after exposure; better compliance w/ 7 days and generally expect folks will develop symptoms w/in 7 days after exposure.

Joint Public Health Order 2020-09GC – GC and SEUHD

The proposed Order amends Joint Public Health Order 2020-08GC to: 1) integrate provisions and language from the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-74, which imposes additional restrictions on individuals and businesses; 2) include restrictions applicable to Special Events; and 3) extend the order until March 2, 2021, the first commission meeting in March. There was a discussion on the Special Event participant limits; the county attorney noted that the number of people that are associated with an event (family members, event organizers, local staff, etc) is more like a factor of 4x the number of participants, i.e. an event with 250 participants involves more like 1000 people. It was also noted that the county’s risk levels will change over time and these special event provisions give event organizers a framework to with within, rather than planning their event and then having the county cancel the event with no warning due to Covid factors. The Commission agreed that it didn’t want to put the county in a position of micromanaging each event and the Order provides good framework. The Joint Order and supplemental documents can be found starting at pdf page 134 of the packet here.

Approved 5-0 (Paxman and Wells absent).

Commissioners, Officials and Dept. Reports – Highlights:

  • Hotspot funding. Commissioner Curtis Wells reported that we’re near the finish line as UDOT supports funding for the downtown parking plan, the public transit system and the multi-use trail.
  • Curtis also noted that he’s on Gov.-elect Cox’s transition team, focusing on economic development in rural communities.
  • County Attorney Christina Sloan reported that the Governor’s recent public health Order is increasing awareness of the serious concerns re Covid. Her office has had numerous complaints/questions about the Governor’s recent public health Order (how to file enforcement complaints, etc). County has partnered with Moab City in a lengthy press release to inform community. County and City law enforcement will defer to Utah Labor Commission’s enforcement process, although county is keeping track of complaints filed with ULC. Links to the ULC form and enforcement info are supposed to be posted to GC’s website soon. [Editor’s note: GC’s Covid-19 webpage does not yet have links to the ULC’s complaint form, however, here is the link to the Utah Labor Commission complaint form page]
  • Commission Administrator Chris Baird reported that due to Covid-19 related orders and exposed staff, many county staff have had to cover additional responsibilities.
  • Grand Center Dir. Verleen Striblen reported that the Grand Center has lost a few of its events to the new Hoodoo Hotel.
  • UMTRA Liaison Russ Von Koch reported there are 4 trains/week to the Crescent Jct site, moving 76,000 tons/mo., and 68% of tailings moved thus far.  The budget has been $45 mil/year for the last 2 years with possible increase to $47 mil in near future.  The tailings could be totally removed w/in 5 years.  The groundwater reclamation process has removed nearly 1 mil. pounds of ammonia and 5300 pounds uranium.
  • Russ also reported on O&G facilities: Danish Flat working far below capacity with 2 of the 14 ponds used only sporadically. The IACX Harley Dome Helium Plant is operating again after having most of the production equipment and roof removed; the plant is currently operating with much smaller equipment.
  • Russ reported that the Harley Dome produced water facility is not in operation. It has a large warehouse full of chemicals used for injection wells, etc. and barrels/tanks of acid and other chemicals at the facility which need to be dealt with.  UDGOGM suggested that best way to dispose of the chemicals is to open up the injection wells and inject the chemicals/acid into the injection wells.  This is a huge facility; it was initially operated by Westwater Farms, sold to Amarda Water, who suspended operations and filed bankruptcy in 2016. The facility was acquired by Electrical Contractors, Inc, Price UT, through a mechanics lien in 2019; the company is trying to find a buyers for the site. Unlikely it will ever operate as a produced water facility in the future. Russ suggested that GCC send letter to UDOGM to propose that county and UDOGM agree on a process of working with the new owner to dispose of chemicals, plug injection wells, to assure safe closure – using bonds that both entities have. Commission agreed that Russ should draft a letter for consideration by Commission at future meeting.

Canyonlands Field name changed to Canyonlands Regional Airport

The Airport Director recommends the name change to compete with airport name branding and to sound more official to travelers while supporting the SE Utah region.

Approved 6-0 (Paxman absent).

Ordinance amending Section 10.4.010 and repealing and replacing Chapter 1.16 of the General Grand County Ordinances to update definitions and establish an Administrative Hearing process

Currently, nothing in County Ordinances allows enforcement of code violations with civil penalties (the default is to resort to the criminal system). As such, GC historically has chosen not to criminally prosecute violators of the land use code or other county ordinances. The County Attorney recommends an administrative hearing process to be conducted by a third-party Hearing Officer to efficiently enforce its ordinances, afford residents due process, and provide an aggrieved party with the ability to contest an alleged code violation that results in a civil penalty.

Approved 6-0 (Paxman absent).

Board and District Vacancies

Associate Commission Administrator Mallory Nassau reported that there are many vacancies on county boards and Special Service Districts. These are posted on the county’s webpage here.

Public Hearing on proposed amendments to the Consolidated Fee Schedule Ordinance

The proposed fee schedule ordinance has been updated after contacting and requesting input from elected officials and department heads countywide. The commission, administrator and county attorney discussed the purpose and need for the updated fee schedule, and in particular the Covid-19 fee for special events and acknowledging that special events during Covid are a really big lift for county staff.

There were no public comments. The Commission agreed to continue to review and refine the draft fee schedule and to send their comments and suggestions to the administrator’s office.