Monticello City approves CUP, talks solar

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the Monticello City Council approved a conditional use permit for a trailer on a property, approved a water connection just outside city limits, and discussed solar panels for the city pool at their latest meeting.
The Council held a public hearing at the August 22 meeting at the Hideout Community Center for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a property near 100 East and 400 South. 
Property owner Scott Jenkins explained the permit is for a trailer owned by his sister-in-law to remain on the property near his shop. 
“She has serious health issues, on a fixed income, I’m just trying to help out a family member and be around family members that can help her out with her health issues,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins told the council he wasn’t charging the woman to stay on his property and he didn’t know he needed a CUP until after the trailer was placed. 
He added he followed proper permitting procedure to build his shop and would have approached the city ahead of time had he known a CUP was required.
Occupant Robin Steele spoke also spoke at the meeting adding that she pays city utilities for water, sewer, and trash.
At the meeting some neighbors offered their views on the CUP. One woman noted she didn’t appreciate what she thought was a temporary stay being considered for a CUP. She added frustration about the fact that her animals may be disturbed by a closer neighbor.
“Our dogs are on the property line. I think she’ll complain about it. My neighbor had no clue I had dogs, until she moved in and my dogs started barking.”
Other opposition to the CUP related to the way the trailer is facing property and wishing the neighbors knew about the move beforehand.
City staff explained that upon learning the property was in violation of code, the landowners began the process of applying for a CUP. The city is now establishing charges for CUP applications, so staff recommended the fee be waived.
Council member George Rice said he appreciated the concerns of some of the complaints, but said he is not sure you can expect to walk out of your door and not have a neighbor look at you.
“I want to appreciate your concern and complaint but I don’t know that’s something you can expect to achieve when you’re in a small town or city.”
Rice added he doesn’t know if its fair to anticipate what a neighbor might complain about.
Rice asked Jenkins if the trailer could face another direction. Jenkins explained the way the property is laid out there isn’t room that would allow the trailer to tie-in to city utilities.
Ultimately the council voted to approve the CUP on the condition of a review in one year. Rice joined Nathan Chamberlain and Kevin Dunn in the unanimous approval of council members present.
All three said the property is zoned C2 commercial as part of their reasoning. Dunn noted he himself lives in a commercial zone.
“It’s frustrating at times but that’s where you live so you deal with it. A lot of things happen that wouldn’t happen in a residential zone.”
Members of the Monticello City Council also discussed a proposed solar panel project to supplement power usage at the city pool.
Council voted in a split 2-1 vote to have City Manager Kaeden Kulow look at what options are available for additional outside funding for the project before the item comes back to the council.
Kulow explained the proposal would see a solar installation placed on land next to the city pool to supplement energy usage by the pool. Kulow explained the project would cost an estimated $200,000 to implement. 
The City of Monticello has received a donation from renewable energy company AES for the project. AES operates projects in the Utah, including the Latigo Wind Park north of Monticello.
The AES donation includes solar panels, an inverter, and the labor for the installation as part of an education program, estimated to cover $100,000 or about half of the project.
Kulow shared that the city share to install the panels, including concrete, fencing and labor for electrical to amount to $100,000.
The panels could not be placed on the pool roof and instead may be placed on a ¼ acre undeveloped lot owned by the San Juan School District next door. Kulow shared that last he talked to the school district, they were happy to move forward, but would need some paperwork from the city.
Kulow also noted that the city would need to re-engage the district on the project as the district recently hired a new superintendent
Kulow also explained the project was being brought before council as AES asked for an update as the city has 180 panels in storage.
Representatives from Moab-based American Solar and Empire Electric were on hand to answer questions.
Empire Electric representatives explained that the city would still pay a grid fee, connection fee and franchising fee. Additionally the banked energy and usage would have different values during peak and off-peak usage.
With all that in mind, city staff estimated savings of $1,000 a month on the pool energy bill. 
If savings did hold to $1,000 a month, the city would recoup the $100,000 infrastructure investments in eight years and four months.
Kulow explained that $100,000 would need to come from city funds, but that the city could pursue grant options to help with that funding.
American Solar representative Kevin Hanson said that the panels are warranted for 25 years but could last upwards of 35 years.
The inverter would last 10-15 years and need to be replaced. They currently cost from $6,000 to $8,000.
Council member Rice said he has solar panels on his home and it hasn’t turned out as promised when sold to him.
“The turnaround of how long it will take to get my investment out of it was a lot of surprise at the back end of the deal. So I’m jaded on solar myself. I think that’s a really tough pill to swallow with putting $100,000 into a building that needs that money spent on other things.”
Mayor Bayley Hedglin noted that the city has budgeted to pay their side of installation costs. “That’s $12,000 we can put back into maintenance back into the pool long-term because we’re saving $12,000 year over year over year.”
When asked to rate the condition of the city pool Kulow put the pool at about 65 percent of new. Noting small leaks in the roof, wood work needed on the front of the building and plaster work done after next season, Kulow mentioned there are no issues with the plumbing, and the city just replaced the pool boiler.
Council member Chamberlain concluded if the city could find some aid to pay the $100,000, or a major portion of that, the project would be worth it.
Kulow said he thought that obtaining $40,000 in donations or grants is in the realm of possibility, but not likely beyond that amount.
Chamberlain motioned to have city staff explore the availability of additional funds to help with the costs.
Chamberlain voted for the motion while Rice voted against. Dunn was the split vote and he voted yes for Kulow to explore additional funding sources.
The council also approved a request to purchase water outside of city limits. The decision was a continuation of an item discussed at the August 8 meeting.
The approval will allow DB Trucking to purchase water from the city for a freight/commercial transport facility on the east edge of Monticello, across Highway 491 from the Port of Entry.
The project will tie into a water line in the area. The facility is located just outside the current city limits and is within the expansion area for future annexation. City staff reported that DB has expressed an interest in future annexation.
The council also approved a plaque on the new bronze eagle statue in Veterans Park on the corner of Main and Center Street.
Volunteer Parks and Beautification Committee member Carol Van Steeter explained the committee was requesting approval of the verbiage on the sign.
It will read: “Dedicated with gratitude to the men and women veterans of our community and our nation. The eagle a symbol of freedom, the rock a symbol of foundation.
“The qualities of courage, strength, determination, endurance, and selflessness are needed to serve a cause greater than oneself. These qualities embraced by our veterans should be a beacon for us all.
“We are the benefactors of a precious heritage of freedom passed onto us through the sacrifices of generations of veterans which has allowed us to stand in freedom.
“Presented by the Monticello Parks & Beautification committee to Veterans Park and the City of Monticello on the 14th day of June, 2023.”
Council members gave glowing reviews of the wording and unanimously approved for parks and beautification to move forward with the project.
The council also approved changes to fees for certain requests. Among them council approved a $500 fee for zone change requests on properties in the city. 
Staff noted that the fee would cover city expenses including providing notice to neighbors, holding public hearings, providing public noticing, changing city maps and other staff time.
When asked, city staff shared that other communities charge up to $2,500 for zone change requests, noting one community that charged $750. Council approved the $500 fee for zone change applications.
Council also approved a fee schedule of $150 for applications for CUP’s nonconforming uses, temporary use or variance applications to cover staff time and city resources.

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