Blanding alcohol ban may be put on ballot

by Kara Laws
The Blanding City Council may put the city alcohol ban on the ballot in November. The idea was discussed at the February 28 council meeting.
It is clear that Blanding is changing, and the City Council faces a number of important decisions.
Few issues are more controversial, or emotional, than lifting the city alcohol ban. While no decision has been made about putting the issue on the ballot, the council says it will make the decision at the next city council meeting on March 14.
If the change is to be made, the Council seems united on putting the vote to the citizens and letting them decide what happens.
Councilman Joe B. Lyman discussed the history on the alcohol ban, adding that the residents of Blanding have been vigorously opposed to the sale of alcohol within the city limits.
The debate has been put to a vote more than once, and the result has always been the same, in favor of continuing the ban.
The most recent action that many remember was not actually a vote, but a poll in the 1990s. That poll still gave the city council the same information; Blanding residents seem happy with an alcohol ban.
Council members have received more public input asking to lift the ban. All who have strong opinions one way or the other are welcome to attend.
The alcohol ban is not the only decision facing the Council that may impact Blanding residents. In addition, the Council is reviewing the annexation plan and map. A public hearing will be held before final decisions are made.
The annexation map shows the areas in and around Blanding that qualify for city utilities, such as sewer and water.
Most residents without a sewer hookup invest in septic tank systems, and residents without a water hookup typically invest in a well.
As homes are built, city utilities can be provided within town and to some residences outside the city limits.
The city council is discussing changes to the annexation rules, which have not been updated since 1990. The changes could include eliminating the fee to process an annexation petition.
However, if a household refuses an offer of annexation, they will be responsible for any annexation costs for annexation within three years of the offer.
The annexing process can be long and involved. The city would like to help with the process, as it helps keep utilities and other public services more cost effective and efficient. But, they would like to minimize the costs to the city.
A public hearing about the new annexation plan will be announced in coming weeks.
A third issue facing the city is adopting a budget for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1. Adoption of the budget is scheduled for June 13. As a result, this is the time for Blanding residents to bring requests to the council.
Ideally, any ideas and requests should be raised before a May 23 public hearing. The public hearing is for budget and project proposals for feedback. Council members encourage residents to participate in the process.
Councilman Lyman suggested if people come and give input, the council will do their best. But he added that they cannot give you what you want if you do not come to the meetings.
The Council also discussed making changes to the Blanding South Park on Main Street. The code requires a permit to sell goods at any park in Blanding, but the city has been lax on the rules, especially at the South Park.
Changes under consideration include enforcing permits, selling only on weekends and holidays, sellers providing their own tables, sellers cleaning up their messes and taking everything they bring.
Council members want to remind residents that regulations like these are not “about the city having a heavy hand, but individuals being responsible.”
Permits are required to sell anything at city parks. They can be secured at the city office or at the Blanding Wellness Center.
A U-Turn sign at Albert R. Lyman Middle School was also discussed. The Council decided to keep, and enforce, the “No U-Turn” sign.
Council members said they understand that dropping students off on the east side of the road, and causing them to run through traffic, is not the safest way to get to class.
However, Chief of Police Jason Torgerson said state law prohibits U-turns within 500 feet of the crest of a hill. The front of the middle school falls within that boundary.
The City Council and Police Department encourage parents to drop off students on the south side of the middle school. There are cross walks, less road to cross, more parking, and space to drop off children in that area.
This area also allows parents coming from the south to turn, drop off students, and continue home without having to U-turn.

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