September 7, 2016 Joint City Council/Planning Commission

Minutes of the Centerville City Council and Planning Commission joint work session held Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Centerville City Council Chambers, 250 North Main Street, Centerville, Utah.


Mayor                           Paul A. Cutler

Council Members        Tamilyn Fillmore
William Ince
Stephanie Ivie
George McEwan
Robyn Mecham


Chair                     David P. Hirschi

Commissioners        Cheylynn Hayman
Logan Johnson
Scott Kjar
Becki Wright

Gina Hirst

STAFF PRESENT        Steve Thacker, City Manager
Lisa Romney, City Attorney
Cory Snyder, Community Development Director
Katie Rust, Recording Secretary

STAFF ABSENT        Blaine Lutz, Finance Director/Assistant City Manager


PRAYER/THOUGHT        Councilman Ince


Mayor Cutler welcomed the property owners in attendance and emphasized that specific suggestions regarding the South Main Street Corridor (SMSC) Public Space Plan would be most helpful to the Council and Planning Commission.  He explained that staff is researching additional options, including the possibility of a revolving loan fund, and the possibility of incentivizing improvement with grants.  Councilwoman Fillmore pointed out that proposed changes would happen over time as major redevelopment occurs.  The Public Space Plan adopted in November of last year includes the following elements:

1.    Wider sidewalks (6’ instead of 4’ or 5’)
2.    Park strip on both sides of Main Street
3.    Periodic hardscape materials like pavers or colored concrete in the park strip and the 10’ behind the sidewalk
4.    Decorative elements like planter boxes, benches
5.    Decorative pedestrian lighting
6.    Enhanced landscaping for 10’ behind the sidewalk: (such as trees, shrubs, pavers/patios, hiding of utility boxes, etc.)
Councilman Ince pointed out that the current Plan places the financial obligation of the improvements on the owner/developer, and recognized that asking property owners to maintain elements in front of their property would not be sustainable in the long run.  The Planning Commission has recommended the City pay for maintenance of elements in the public space.  The current requirements apply to new development and redevelopment expanding a structure by more than 30%, or increasing value by more than 50%.  The Mayor opened the meeting to public comment at 7:20 p.m.

Gary O’Brien – Mr. O’Brien owns the O’Brien Glass property and neighboring properties on Main Street between 300 and 400 South.  Mr. O’Brien expressed disappointment that he was not aware of the Plan when it passed last November.  He asked if the City has any idea what the required improvements would cost property owners.  Mr. Thacker presented cost estimates prepared by Dan Sonntag, the landscape engineer under contract with the City, for two scenarios: (1) one cycle of the A&B design pattern (80 feet); and (2) 80 feet of sidewalk and park strip.  A copy of the estimates is attached.  Mr. O’Brien pointed out that, in his opinion, only the property owners would be impacted by the Plan.  He agreed that something needs to be done, and said he was previously trying to do get something done with a developer.  Mr. O’Brien said he knows he will have to pay for the improvements one way or another.  He said that, since neighbors of his property are not in favor of town homes, he is not sure what he could build on his property; he is not sure he can sell the property and break even with the current Plan.  Mr. O’Brien asked if the City will require others to tear down their buildings to have everything matching.  Mayor Cutler responded the City will absolutely not require that.  The Plan does not affect property owners who do not redevelop.

Ann Fadel – Ms. Fadel pointed out that from the sidewalk to the road is public space, and everything behind the sidewalk is private property.  She referred to a survey question that asked if citizens would want Main Street improved, and stated that of course citizens want it improved, but the property owners are the ones who would have to pay for it.  She commented that the requirements would take some of her front property, and added that space for snow storage needs to be considered.  Ms. Fadel said she loves the idea of beautification of Centerville, but Main Street does not need any of the elements of the Plan.  She said she loves the idea of uniform pedestrian lighting.

Spencer Summerhays – Mr. Summerhays said it would be helpful to have clarification regarding whether the City would use eminent domain to get the necessary square footage.  Mayor Cutler responded there are no plans to take any property, and no plans for the City to force these improvements.  Improvements would happen when redevelopment occurs.

Ms. Fadel said she would love to improve her property, but she does not get business from people just driving down Main Street.  Councilman McEwan said he does not see this Plan surviving in its current form.  The question is what it needs to look like.  Ms. Fadel said she would love to see benches and garbage cans at bus stops, and she would be willing to pay for a light structure, but she expressed concern over liability.

K. Knighton – Mr. Knighton said he thinks Main Street looks fine the way it is and should be left alone.  Improvements would not attract business to Main Street.  He expressed the opinion that property owners already lost out when Walmart went in.  Mr. Snyder commented that in the past some property owners in the city participated in a Special Improvement District SID to help pay for existing infrastructure.

Councilman McEwan asked Ms. Romney about liability with the hardscape A/B model.  Ms. Romney responded that staff is recommending an offset model with hardscape only in the public right-of-way, which is different from the Planning Commission recommendation.  The City is typically responsible to ensure sidewalk is maintained in good condition.  Mr. Snyder commented that Main Street is a UDOT owned facility, and discussions of liability would need to include UDOT.  The public right-of-way is generally eight feet on both sides of the roadway, but varies some.  Councilman McEwan stated he is uncomfortable with the number of unknowns related to maintenance and liability.

Maureen Huffaker – Ms. Huffaker stated her family owns the Huffaker dental office on Main Street.  She pointed out that Centerville is not Park City.  She would like to see the City help Main Street businesses be successful, and not place additional burdens on the property owners.  She commented that inconsistent sidewalk widths as different property owners make changes would look ridiculous.  She referred to undeveloped land behind the dental office and asked if development of the land would trigger the requirements.  The loss of front property would result in loss of important parking space.

Bruce Pitt – Mr. Pitt commented that the loss of parking space would reduce property value.

Mr. Snyder responded to Ms. Huffaker that multiple options are available.  If the land were developed commercially which increased the gross floor area greater than 30%, the property would be subject to the six requirements.  Mr. Snyder also reference an earlier request to subdivide the property and develop the back area as residential. Mayor Cutler emphasized the need to look to the future and have standards in place.  Ms. Huffaker responded that there were standards in place when they built the building eight years ago.  Councilman McEwan commented that bike lanes and on-street parking cannot coexist.  Mr. Snyder agreed it is difficult to have both.

Jeff Cook – Mr. Cook said he has been attending Council and Planning Commission meetings in Centerville for 40 years, and he feels things have gotten dramatically better.  He expressed appreciation for excellent City staff, particularly Cory Snyder and the Planning Department staff.  He said he helped the Huffaker family with construction of the dental office, which conformed to City regulations when it was built.  Mr. Cook expressed the opinion that it would be unfair to change things to the point that the Huffakers could not build as originally planned.  He said Centerville is a small enough city that properties should be considered individually, one at a time.  He said he would love to beautify Main Street, but not with property owners paying a majority of the cost.  If extra land is needed, compensation should be given.  He emphasized the need to make sure all properties on Main Street have space for snow removal.  Mr. Cook said he feels benches only work in specific areas like bus stops.  He said he thinks wider sidewalks would be sufficient for snow removal on the west side on Main Street; park strips may not be necessary.  Mr. Cook said the city needs to have something in place that will work in front of all properties, not just some of them.

Mr. Pitt pointed out that right now his property has a three-foot park strip and four-foot sidewalk.  As he understands it, the current Plan would require him to surrender 11-feet.  The Council and Planning Commission discussed whether or not water-wise plants could survive in the park strips with the volume of snow removed on Main Street every winter.  Mr. Pitt suggested that flower pots hanging from existing infrastructure and the flags along Main Street would create a feeling of continuity.  Mr. Cook said he hopes the city can work with existing public space.  Mr. Snyder commented that retaining walls will be an issue for several properties on the west side of Main Street if redevelopment occurs.  Mr. Cook responded that he will build up his property rather than use retaining walls.  Every property has inherent issues to deal with.  Mr. Cook expressed confidence that nice things can be accomplished if the city is conservative and does not get carried away.

Jennifer Turnblom – Ms. Turnblom said she owns property on the east side of Main Street.  She said she has a major problem with tall elements in the mow strip that would block driver visibility.  She said she does not think wider sidewalks make sense for just a few blocks of the street.  She said she has heard people comment that they are moving to Centerville because of the lack of sidewalks.  Ms. Turnblom said she feels property owners will do what they can to make their properties look nice.  As a property owner, she does not want to be told what improvements to make.  She said she would love to see the Christmas lights turned on along Main Street.  She said she agrees with removing benches from the Plan, and said she does not know how the city would get approval for removing or replacing existing light poles.  She commented that adding new, lower lights to existing poles would be nice.  She acknowledged that tree roots pushing up portions of sidewalk is a problem.  Requiring specific elements would be too much government regulation.  Ms. Turnblom suggested the city put together a list of trees that grow well in Centerville for citizens to refer to.  She commented that the east side of the area in question is part of Centerville’s historic district, and said she would like to see it stay looking like a historic Main Street.  She said she feels tall grasses would worsen the mosquito problem, and would be in the way for viewing the 4th of July parade.  She suggested the city consider using a drip system rather than a sprinkler system in the park strips.

Lynette Ricks – Ms. Ricks said she owns the car wash on Main Street.  She said she feels the current plan is anti-business.  She would not be able to expand without losing business space.  She said she does not mind the hanging pots idea, and does not mind a little landscaping, but she would not want to put in anything that blocks a driver’s line of sight.  She said she could not widen the sidewalk on her property without impacting her business.

Mr. Pitt suggested that the current Plan would work if all of Main Street were redeveloped by the same developer.  On an individual basis, he feels it is taking away property rights.  Property values go down when owners cannot do anything with their property.  He said he feels continuity could be achieved all along Main Street without unreasonable requirements.  Mr. Pitt said he feels the city should scrap the current Plan and enhance the elements and infrastructure already in place, looking at each property individually.  He said he feels the current Plan is flamboyant and will not help the property owners.  Commissioner Wright said she likes Mr. Pitt’s hanging planter idea.  She pointed out that a lot of citizens in Centerville like to participate in the community through financial donations and volunteer time.  Mayor Cutler confirmed that a majority of the cost of extending the flags and brackets along Main Street in 2015 was donated by citizens.  Mr. Pitt suggested the design work for the Plan could have been donated by someone who loves Centerville.  He suggested the community would come together and beautify Main Street in little ways if given the opportunity.  Mr. Pitt said he is saddened that it takes so long to put together and agree on a plan.
Mr. Summerhays provided a rough drawing of a suggestion.  He commented that people are not going to walk on Main Street to accomplish errands.  Looking at safety issues, he suggested flashing crosswalk lights on Main Street at Porter Lane, Center Street, and 200 North.  He suggested symmetry with park strips both east/west and north/south.  Mr. Summerhays said he feels all of Centerville would benefit from a cohesive plan.  For funding, he suggested a two-pronged approach: a small city-wide development fee for the public space improvements, with property owners contributing a small portion when development occurs.  He added that drought-tolerant low grasses do survive Utah winters.

Kim Samuelson – Mr. Samuelson said he has property on Main Street.  He expressed appreciation for all the work that has been done by the Council and Planning Commission.  He said he feels it should be law that those who would be affected by change should be notified.  He said he feels it is wrong that the Plan passed last November without the property owners knowing about it.  Mr. Samuelson said he does not think it would be fair for the city to take up to 18 feet and dictate what can be done.  He insisted that practicality should be considered.  He said he has been maintaining snow removal on the west side with five-foot sidewalks and no park strip.  He stated that the telephone poles are ugly and should be taken out and replaced with cement in park strips for uniformity.

Mr. Cook said he feels Centerville needs more crosswalks on Main Street.  Mayor Cutler commented that City Council agendas are available on the City website, and citizens can sign up for email delivery to stay informed.  Mr. Snyder clarified that a notice was sent to every property owner about the Public Space Plan.  He said he thinks there has been confusion between the notice sent for the Public Space Plan and the process that also resulted in amendments because of the TZRO.  Councilman McEwan asked what would happen if the Council were to repeal the Plan and revert to previous regulations.  Mr. Snyder responded that edits made as a result of the TZRO would remain - reduced density and changed setbacks, with standard UDOT specs for sidewalk and park strip.  Councilwoman Mecham asked if the Public Space Plan was originally tied to density.  Mr. Snyder explained that the Main Street study done in 2007 included suggestions for ordinances and street-scape that included the idea of re-development with residential mixed use.  The Main Street General Plan adopted in 2008 included zoning ordinances regulating setbacks and density, with the intention to adopt a public space plan.  The public space plan was not tied to density, but the assumption was that the SMSC would have more residential uses and would need more walkability.  Councilwoman Fillmore commented that there are a lot of small towns in Utah with historic main streets without a residential element that have still done some level of beautification to help revitalize.

Councilman McEwan expressed the opinion that the current plan is overreach, disincentivizing redevelopment.  Centerville has multi-generational property ownership on Main Street.  Councilman McEwan said he does not think symmetry could be developed with the current Plan structure in this environment.  Commissioner Wright suggested Centerville start with hanging flower pots and go to the citizens for further support.  Councilman McEwan agreed, and mentioned Cedar City as an example.  Councilwoman Mecham commented that east winds should be remembered when talking about hanging flower pots, but she thinks flags would be great.  Commissioner Kjar pointed out that flowers have to be watered every day or they die.  Councilwoman Fillmore added that a lot of things can beautify a property and cost the property owners less in the long run than having to mow and water lawn.  Councilman McEwan said he thinks it is important to trust property owners with the beautification of their own property.  Chair Hirschi responded that beautification and upkeep on Main Street has been inconsistent, and he feels it is important to present the idea of making improvements and gently encourage change over time.  Councilman McEwan agreed, but pointed out that the current Plan does not include enough incentive for the property owners.  Councilman Ince commented that he thinks newness drives the feel of an area.

Responding to a question from Mr. O’Brien, Mayor Cutler explained that UDOT tries to minimize the number of outlets onto a street.  Mr. Snyder agreed that UDOT has a policy to reduce the number of curb cuts.  UDOT will reconsider right-of-way if a substantial change or redevelopment occurs.

Eileen Turnblom – Ms. Turnblom said she is sure Mr. Pitt and Mr. O’Brien could put in nice single-family houses on their properties to have residential and business together for a nice neighborhood.

Mayor Cutler said he heard mixed responses regarding wider sidewalks and mixed responses regarding park strips and symmetry on both sides of Main Street.  He heard some support for decorative pedestrian lighting, if funding is found.

Ms. Huffaker asked why the city would need decorative lighting for a business area where the businesses are not open at night.  Mayor Cutler responded that safety for pedestrians is one reason, but the bigger reason is to achieve a decorative, cohesive feel.  Councilman Ince added that lighting becomes a significant safety issue for pedestrians in the evening.

Mr. Snyder presented an alternative design option that capitalizes on the existing fabric of the SMSC, with elements to mark the north and south boundaries of the area, and continuity with banner poles on both east and west sides.  He suggested more decorative street signs at corners to unify the corridor.  Councilwoman Fillmore asked about the suggestion to bury power lines.  Mr. Thacker responded that a high-level analysis was done in 2015 that showed the cost would be several million dollars to bury the power lines.

Council members Mecham and Ivie pointed out that some of the property owners have been on hold waiting for a decision to be made.  Councilwoman Ivie said she has listened to the input and heard the property owners say they do not want the Plan.  Councilwoman Fillmore commented that, compared to the TZRO, the Public Space Plan is a small property right infringement.  Councilman McEwan said he is inclined to repeal and revert, and look at properties on a more individual basis.  Mr. Thacker encouraged property owners to keep an open mind regarding property lines and easements, and not limit opportunities by refusing to allow any easements to accommodate improvements. It was explained that a setback is still measured from the property line, not from an easement.

Mr. Pitt said he has hired someone to make drawings for his property, but he is waiting for the Council’s decision to know how to move forward.

Michael Randall – Mr. Randall said he owns the Main Street Garage.  Mr. Randall said he has serious questions about the Plan, but there does not seem to be much he can do to control it.

Chair Hirschi said that, as citizen planners, the Planning Commission tried to really study the issue and spark interest in making Main Street more beautiful.  More could be done in the public space, and he suggested the property owners talk together and put together ideas to present to the Planning Commission and Council.  Commissioner Wright pointed out that the Centerville Walmart looks and feels nicer than other Walmarts because a strong Public Space Plan was in place for that area.  A plan needs to be in place for the SMSC.  Councilwoman Fillmore said that, if decisions are going to be made based on cost, a cost benefit analysis would be helpful.  She emphasized that the quality of Main Street speaks to the quality of the entire community, and the Council has received a lot of feedback that citizens would like the appearance of Main Street improved.  Ms. O’Brien asked the Council and Planning Commission to remember that simplicity is beautiful.
Councilman McEwan said he would like to ask staff to prepare for the Council to repeal the ordinance at the next Council meeting, with the assumption that quick action will be taken to implement a simpler plan.  He said he is willing to take the risk that development will occur during the transition.  Mr. Snyder reminded the Council that a recommendation has been made by the Planning Commission that will require action.  Councilwoman Fillmore said she feels it would be easier to modify the existing structure than repeal and start from scratch.  A majority of the Council appeared to be in favor of taking action on the Planning Commission recommendation at the next meeting.


Mayor Cutler adjourned the meeting at 9:54 p.m.

_____________________________        _9-28-2016 (PC) 10-4-2016 (CC)_
Marsha L. Morrow, City Recorder            Date Approved

Katie Rust, Recording Secretary