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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Weber County Conditional Use Permitting Process is Being Revised

Guest post by Lee Schussman , Eden and Kim Wheatley, Huntsville

The Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission (OVTPC) has embarked on an ambitious project that will have major impacts on the growth and development of the Ogden Valley. This is the time –-beginning this week-- for everyone who is interested in the growth and development of the valley to become active in that process. The project entails the rewriting and codifying of the ordinances that govern all land use in the Valley. These ordinances currently comprise many pages of arcane, complicated, and even conflicting laws.

Revising these ordinances will be a two-step process:

1) A major change is occurring in the processes governing the granting of a Conditional Use Permit. This needs our attention NOW, and is described fully below.

2) A re-formatting of the entire Land Use Table for the Ogden Valley is being undertaken. This effort is just starting and will continue for at least six months.

1. The revision of the processes involved in the granting of a Weber County Conditional Use Permit. (CUP)

The current Weber County and Utah State codes state:

A conditional use shall be approved if reasonable conditions are proposed, or can be imposed, to mitigate the reasonably anticipated detrimental effects of the proposed use in accordance with applicable standards.

The OVTPC,  other local governmental agencies, and Ogden Valley landowners have all struggled with the CUP processes. The OVTPC is legally obligated (note that a CUP “SHALL be approved”) to approve CUP applications under the above statute. Under the current code, the OVTPC has been markedly constrained by having only a short list of examples of “anticipated detrimental effects” which they can legally consider in their deliberations. In part because of these constraints, many individuals have become frustrated and increasingly cynical of the entire process. They often believe that there are likely to be detrimental effects, yet they often feel they are not heard or understood during public comments.

During the OVTPC meeting on May 5, 2015,  Charles Ewert and Sean Wilkinson of the Weber County Planning Department presented a new “Proposed Conditional Use Code.” The new ordinance lists specific, objective criteria that (if the amendment is passed) will be used by planners, developers, and the OVTPC to evaluate all future CUP applications.

In the past the OVTPC has had difficulties in that it has been severely hamstringed in terms of the types of anticipated detrimental effects that it could legally consider. The new standards list a number of detrimental effects about which citizens have long expressed concerns but which the OVTPC has been unable to consider in their deliberations.

Here is a summary of some of the standards the new code lists:

1- Standards related to safety
Included here are standards for fire, emergency medical services, geologic hazard, flood, size or heights of buildings, traffic.

2- Standards related to infrastructure, amenities, and services
Included here are standards for traffic, road damage, sewer, open space, water, and public spaces.

Please note that included here is also “Mitigate material degradation of the level of service of any culinary water facility or infrastructure.”

3) Standards related to the environment
Included here are protections for rivers, creeks, wildlife, and vegetation.

4) Standards related to the surrounding areas
Included here are standards related to incompatible uses, light emissions, noise emissions, building heights and sizes, post construction clean up, hours of operation.

No new code will ever solve all the problems related to the subjective aspects of analyzing, judging, and granting or denying CUPs. But this effort is a huge step in the right direction and can give all parties some objective criteria on which to base decisions.

Here is what we should / MUST do now:

1- Learn about the new ordinances:

Go to the GEM site that includes a link to the new code.

Or go the following link:

Scroll down on this site to the CUP Revision Documents.

Or, I am told that, if you are a savvy user, you can use the Weber County Miradi navigator to find the new CUP code.

2-Look carefully at the new standards to see if you agree or disagree with them.

3-Give feedback to the OVTPC, and to the Weber County Planning Office via email as to your support, concerns, additions, etc. to the document.

4-I believe that this is the first draft and that Mr. Ewert will post subsequent iterations in the next few weeks. Keep checking online at the Weber County Planning Division sites to track any changes that may occur in the document.

5-Attend the OVTPC meeting when this will be discussed, voted on, and codified. That meeting is currently scheduled for May 26.

Your efforts in the next 2 weeks can help assure that your concerns will be included in the new law.

2. The New Land Use Table and New Land Use Code

Look over the Land Use Table that is also part of the packet that was prepared by the staff for the May 5, 2015 OVTPC meeting.

That table is a new format for the existing land uses in the Ogden Valley. It does not include any changes in zoning or land use within zones; it includes over 500 lines of possible “uses” of land. Using this table, you can become familiar with the ways your specific desires about and uses of land are regulated. E.g.: do you want to keep horses, pigs, etc.? What uses do you want in your area and in other areas of the Valley?
At the next OVTPC this new “Table” format for Land Use will be approved.

For the Land Use Table, no real actions on the part of individuals is needed right now; but, beginning soon after the new Land Use Table becomes an ordinance, the process of actually redefining and relisting all the uses of land under each zoning heading will begin. This will be a lengthy process – at least six months to complete the one section related to agriculture, and then other sections on commercial areas, residential areas, etc. will be addressed.

The proposed CUP and Land Use codes will ultimately determine what the Ogden Valley will be in the future. If that is important to you, get involved in these processes now.

Lee Schussman , Eden

Kim Wheatley, Huntsville

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