Scott Taylor, Director of Water Services for the City of St. George, addresses the St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
ST. GEORGE- Set to pass an amended water conservation and landscaping ordinance after nearly six months of work, St. George’s City Council voted 5-0 to file adoption of the revised code on Thursday to address ongoing concerns from council members and local builders.
Although the bulk of the proposed changes were favored by most council members, some confusion persists among council members and developers regarding a change in how the city will approve future projects.
“I’ve had several phone calls where they (the builders) are a bit confused about where we are and what’s going to be required of them,” council member Jimmie Hughes said of the proposed code revisions. . “So that’s where this concern comes from.”
Will serve the letters
Hughes and other council members are particularly concerned about the “letters of service” the city will require builders to secure from the Washington County Water Conservation District.
Under the proposed water conservation ordinance, a developer will require a letter of will as part of the building permit approval process. The letter must be issued by the water district when the impact fee is paid, granting a proponent’s project access to a water connection.
While a Letter of Will will help show the city that a developer has secured the water access needed to service their project, it also provides the water district with a way to monitor new construction projects approved by the towns to which it supplies water. . This will also help the water district track how much water has been allocated for various projects and how much may still be available for future use.
“We don’t want to build a half-built house and then say, ‘Oh, sorry, we’re out of water,'” Scott Taylor, director of St. George’s water services, told the council.
However, the Water District currently has no policy of issuing Letters of Service and does not intend to do so until next year. Until then, the water district must visit towns in the county that are part of a pre-existing regional water plan to approve the policy change.
This is where some of the confusion seems to come in. What should a builder do between the time the city approves their ordinance revisions and January 1?
Taylor and Assistant City Attorney Jami Brackin said the city wanted to be flexible in this regard by providing language in the new ordinance that allowed proof of impact fee payment (such as a payment receipt), to be used in place of a will. letter.
Even so, area builders, represented by Stacy Young, director of government affairs for the Southern Utah Home Builders Association, said there were concerns about how the new ordinance might be implemented regarding the service letter requirement. Concerns were also expressed that a lot could change over the next six months, and he suggested the city wait to approve the proposed ordinance until the water district begins issuing orders. official letters.
Ultimately, discussion of this issue led to City Council tabling the draft Water Conservation Ordinance with instructions to City staff to rework the wording of the Ordinance regarding Letters of Will.
A six-month process
City Council has until August 3 to pass the new ordinance, as that’s when a temporary 6-month zoning ordinance prohibiting the approval of new car washes and other water-intensive facilities runs out.
Council members said they plan to complete and pass the amended conservation order before the temporary zoning ban expires.
The proposed water conservation ordinance the city has been working on for the past six months originated in a water summit hosted by the county’s water district last fall. Since then, the city has held a series of stakeholder meetings and worked with builders and the water district on revisions to the water conservation ordinance. The idea of service letters was originally brought to the water district by developers.
Proposed revisions to the city’s water conservation and landscaping code are deemed necessary due to the persistent drought in the region which has worsened over the past two years.
So far, Ivins, Santa Clara, Hurricane and Washington City have passed similar water conservation ordinances.
“It took a long time to prepare,” Taylor said.
“As a freedom-loving American in the room, I had a heart attack when I read this,” councilwoman Michelle Tanner said.
She objected to various parts of the order because she thinks it makes the issue “much more complicated than it should be” and she “is not comfortable giving so much power to the government”.
Elements of Tanner’s proposed ordinance disagreed with allowing city staff to enter someone’s property to check their water meters and, in extreme cases or wasted water. water, to close someone’s access to water.
“Our goal should be to educate, not mandate,” Tanner said.
Tanner also said the majority of the points covered in the proposed order were already being practiced by builders. She asked why it was considered necessary to codify these points if manufacturers already complied with them.
Councilwoman Danielle Larkin said having the standards outlined in the code would help keep builders who might otherwise abuse the system in check.
If passed by the city, the variation ordinance will apply only to new residential and commercial developments and not to existing homes and businesses.
A basic breakdown of St. George’s proposed ordinance can be found in the slides below, courtesy of the City of St. George and the CEC.
Copyright St.George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.