Bluff City Council approves Lyman Family Farms municipal disconnect and event alcohol permit

The Bluff Town Council held their second meeting of the year on Jan. 8 at the Bluff Community Center.
The first item on the agenda for the council was the consideration of a 72-hour alcohol permit for the Friends of Cedar Mesa event scheduled for March 1-2.
“For Celebrate Cedar Mesa we would like your guys’ consent to sell some wine and beer on Saturday of the event,” Lindsey Luttrell with The Friends of Cedar Mesa said. “The permit is for 72 hours, so if possible or if it arises Friday, we may sell alcohol then too.”
The council approved the request unanimously, granting the organization a three-day single event permit, which is exactly the same permit the council has approved in the past.
“Every calendar year, an entity gets to request 12 of these from the state,” Luttrell said. “This will be the first one Cedar Mesa is requesting for 2019.
“And if other entities in town were to ever come to you, it would not be out of character to ask for some kind of a fee for it, so that you then could garner money from the people asking you for the ability to get permits.”
The next agenda item the council considered was the Lyman Family Farms disconnect, which the council unanimously approved.
“In keeping with the ongoing Lyman Family Farms agenda item, we are required as a municipality to have a vote prior to Jan. 13, 2019,” Bluff Mayor Ann K. Leppanen said. “And the issue is whether or not we will grant their petition to disconnect what is referred to as Lyman Family Farms.”
Mayor Leppanen gave each council member the opportunity to talk about why they are voting the way they are prior to anyone making a motion on the disconnect.
“I love that property out there, and I love that it is so attached to Bluff, but what I’m worried about is an open wound in our town, festering for two years while this thing would go through the courts,” said councilman Brant Murray. “My first gut reaction is to fight like hell.
“But my level-headedness tells me that this may be a battle that we want to sit out and not fight. And I haven’t decided how I am going to vote yet.
“So both of those weigh really heavily on me...I haven’t decided, but those are my two ideas. One is I don’t want to leave an open wound. And two is I don’t want to give up anything that Bluff cherishes so dearly.”
Councilwoman Luanne Hook weighed in on the controversial disconnect next, stating that she agreed with Murray.
“It’s been a real struggle to go, ‘What do we do with these guys...’ What it basically is is a new town.
“We are a brand new town, and we’ve inherited a bad decision as we’ve got a bad decision made by Utah’s SITLA board to sell this piece of land. They took it out. They sold it.
“The new people are private property owners, that’s a done deal. We don’t yet know why they want to leave Bluff.
“We don’t know, but we do know the Lyman Family Farms; they’re private property owners which goes with it a lot of rights with Utah and anywhere else.
“They’re private property owners. We can’t change that, but they will still be under county ordinance. The county will still have a say on what’s going on...
“They did buy what we collectively call our Comb Ridge. It was in our town, it was what we used as a park. So I am going to vote yes to let them go back to the county.”
Hook estimated that the cost to fight the disconnect in court would range from $50,000 to $100,000 – part of the reason she indicated she would vote yes for the disconnect.
“I was not elected to engage in expensive litigation,” Councilwoman Linda Sosa said. “Expensive, long, nasty litigation with an attorney who will take us through the wringer.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we will spend every waking moment wondering who’s being deposed. Who has to file an answer? Who has to do this?
“I’m not doing it. I would love to tell them no, but in my mind, I cannot say that that is the best thing for this town.”
Sosa went on to say that she has faith that we are seeing a great change in San Juan County with the new commissioners, who she believes the council can work with to make sure they enforce the planning and zoning for the county and that the road is not privatized at the farm.
“I’m not going to engage in litigation at this point,” Sosa said. “We would fail as a town, and I wasn’t elected to make sure we failed.”
Jim Sayers stated that he agreed with his fellow council members.
“A lot of it is a cost-benefit analysis that it would cost us a lot of money to deny this disconnect,” Sayers said.
“Even if we were to somehow prevail we don’t have the money to really go forward. And there’s also the matter of the economic time and resources.”
Sayers made the motion to approve the disconnect for Lyman Family Farms from the town of Bluff, which was seconded by Hook. The council then unanimously approved the disconnect from the city.
The city will have 30 days to create an ordinance for the disconnect following the Jan. 8 meeting.

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