Monticello City denies a rezoning request, proposes raise to law enforcement officers
The Monticello City Council denied a property rezone request, proposed a raise to county sheriff deputies who work in the city, and discussed a project to bring solar power to the city pool at their latest meeting.
At their April 12 meeting members of the Monticello City Council unanimously denied a rezone request for a piece of property on the north end of town.
The request to re-zone the roughly nine-acre triangle-shaped property between Pehrson Road and Schafer Auto Clinic, along highway 191, was made by Spanish Valley developer Shik Han.
In March 2021, the city council approved a zone change request for a part of the property from R2 Residential to Commercial, with plans to create a tiny-home manufacturing facility.
A request in March 2021 to approve a zone change from Agricultural to Residential on six acres on the east end of the property was also denied.
A similar request for a partial rezone to residential on the six easternmost acres and a re-zone to commercial on three acres closer to the highway was heard in a January 2022 planning commission meeting.
Han shared a proposal of 20 mixed-use units in the proposed commercial area, with retail on the bottom floor and townhomes located above. Han also proposed 20 single-family homes on the six acres of proposed residential.
Neighbors of the property objected to the zone change to both the planning commission and the city council.
While property neighbor Helaman Tait had questions about the proposal without a distinct plan, he also noted that if residential units came in there would be complaints about being surrounded by agricultural land.
Monticello resident Alan Freestone said he leases land near the property and uses it for agricultural purposes.
Neighbor Guy Wallace didn’t have as much concern with the change to residential as he did to the proposed commercial rezone.
“This extends commercial far away from Main Street, from the other commercial process along there,” said Wallace. “As part of commercial zoning, the intent of the C1 zone is to maintain the central C1 zone in the heart of the city. If this property changes to C1, it mixes C1 with residential and agriculture.”
City Councilmember Kim Henderson attended the January planning meeting and said that she didn’t feel comfortable with the commercial zone change but did feel the residential zone change was appropriate.
“We do have a housing shortage in Monticello, point-blank we have a housing shortage,” said Henderson. “There’s only so much land and unfortunately, some of that land is agricultural, but I also feel that it’s close enough to residential. I know there’s a lot of unknowns, if it’s R2 we know it’s going to be residential and we know it’s going to be homes.”
Councilmember George Rice spoke against the zone changes. “He’s buying land that he understands what’s around him, it’s already zoned,” said Rice. “We have people here that bought the land that they hoped would stay zoned the way that they came into that land.”
City Attorney Alex Goble reminded the council that they should consider the rezone request without consideration for proposals of future use, but whether the rezone is appropriate for the area.
“Somebody can come in and can build exactly what their proposal is and the next guy who buys it can raze it all to the ground and do anything else that is allowed in that zone,” said Goble. “So when you’re making the decision I understand that anything that is allowed in that zone could take place in that zone.”
The proposed re-zone was in one motion, meaning the council could not parse the commercial and residential rezone separately. The decision to deny the request was unanimous.
At the April 12 meeting, the council also discussed an update to an agreement with the county sheriff’s department regarding the pay of officers that patrol Monticello.
Following the dissolution of the Monticello Police Department in June 2020, the city began contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.
Ron Skinner said he, along with other city council members, had been working to update the city agreement with the county, noting concerns of retainment.
“Due to the increase in cost in providing law enforcement for the city of Monticello, we’d like to show our appreciation to those officers that work in Monticello,” sid Skinner. “This would be through an incentive raise of $2 an hour to the officers that work in Monticello.”
The increase would amount to about $7,300 a year per officer. Three officers cover Monticello, so the city would pay an additional $30,000 a year for law enforcement services, raising the total to the county to $244,600 annually.
The council did not vote on the item but will revisit it.
The council did give approval for City Manager Evan Bolt to advance conversations to build solar panels at the city pool.
An ongoing conversation since March 2021, the proposal would bring solar panels to power the city pool. Bolt reported last month over 30 years, the utility reduction would represent $1 million in cost savings, which may be applied to operating the pool year-round.
Renewable company AES, which operates the Latigo Wind Park north of Monticello, has pledged a donation of solar panels along with a needed inverter to use solar to power the pool.
While the pool building itself cannot support the panels on its roof, the city is exploring leasing land to the east of the building owned by the San Juan School District.
At the April 12 meeting, Bolt asked for council approval to work with a local solar company to help the city through the planning stages.
“I’m asking that we move forward with the conversation with one single company that has the most competitive bid, without awarding the bid yet because we’re still in the process of working through the agreement with the San Juan School District on top of that working with Empire Electric,” said Bolt.
At the meeting, Kevin Hudson of American Solar Power, a Utah-based solar company with an office in Moab, explained that they understood that the bid was not awarded but felt positive about the project moving forward.
The council voted unanimously to move the project forward by
having discussions with the school district.
The council also tabled a decision regarding an increase in sanitation rates to raise an additional $23,000 annually for the department, which has had issues with an aging dump truck.
The proposed rate increases would be steeper for multiple pick-ups per week. For example, a 4-yard dumpster picked up twice a week would cost $252, while an 8-yard dumpster once a week is $200.
Replacing the city truck is estimated to cost between $250,000 and $350,000.
Monticello businessman Scott Frost asked why the city can’t afford a new truck with their current rates, noting the city netted $96,000 in 2021. Frost asked, “That means every three years you can buy a new truck, so why do you need more funds?”
The council voted to continue the item to a future meeting, as staff works to figure out exactly if available funds could be spent on a new truck and maintain a rainy-day fund.
Henderson said the city recreation committee raised $700 through concession operated at a recent volleyball tournament in town.
Councilmember Nathan Chamberlain reported on volunteer opportunities at the Hideout Golf Course.
Various opportunities are meant for residents to volunteer with the city providing necessary supplies.