"The Planning and Zoning Committee should have done their job three or four months ago, rather than pushing their agenda at the eleventh hour,” said Commissioner Willie Grayeyes said of changes to a draft plan for development in Spanish Valley, likening the edits to an attempt to twist the commission’s arm.
The San Juan County Commission voted on extensive zoning ordinances impacting Spanish Valley at the commission meeting on Nov. 19. In 2017, the county hired Landmark Design in 2017 to prepare an area plan, zoning map, and write draft ordinances anticipating development needs for the area.
Landmark Design returned a draft plan to the commission on Sept. 13. The San Juan County Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the draft plan and made some controversial recommendations, including the elimination of ordinances related to outdoor lighting and signs, those regulating overnight accommodations and those protecting local streams.
Many Spanish Valley residents considered the Planning and Zoning Commission edits a serious undercutting of many ordinances and urged the commissioners to disregard them or allow more time for the amendments to be considered before being adopted.
Others said that the Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations were made to preserve private property rights and adhere to state law.
There was some confusion over multiple maps showing potential zoning changes, particularly with the complication of a new Utah state law that changed laws governing zoning changes to gravel pits. LeGrand Johnson Construction is an asphalt and concrete company with property in Spanish Valley.
Over twenty residents went on the record at the meeting, speaking passionately about the need for the ordinances to control growth in Spanish Valley.
“None of the planning and zoning board members are experts on this,” said Spanish Valley resident Jean Bondio, “so you hired someone who is: Landmark Designs.”
“If we don’t use the recommendations of the experts you hired, you are again flushing the taxpayers’ money down the toilet,” Bondio said, directing her comments to Commissioner Adams.
Kim Henderson attended the meeting to advocate for the Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations as she believes they would support “diverse economic growth in the area.” Henderson is a newly-elected Monticello city council member, a city 50 miles from Spanish Valley.
“Obviously it’s important to listen to what community members have to say. That said, I think it’s important to recognize what’s best for San Juan County as a whole,” said Henderson.
Planning and Zoning Commission member Trent Schafer stated that the changes to the Landmark Design plan were due to concerns about private property rights.
“It was just a lot of government overreach,” said Schafer of the Landmark Design plans, “that’s why we did what we did.”
Multiple supporters of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s changes suggested that the edits did not substantially change the Landmark Design plan. That argument didn’t convince Maryboy.
“Those that have come up and said that only some of the ordinances have been changed: to me, this seems like quite a bit has been stricken out of the plan,” said Maryboy, while expressing gratitude to the many who attended the meeting and the work of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Maryboy spoke eloquently about the importance of listening to those who have made their home in Spanish Valley, while acknowledging the area’s connection to San Juan Valley as a whole.
“Whatever the outcome is here, it’s not the end of the world. We are a community and we will always work to take care of each other,” said Maryboy.
The commission approved the Landmark Design plans with some adjustments to the draft zoning maps concerning gravel pits, rejecting the recommendation of the San Juan Planning and Zoning Commission. The vote was 2-1, with Commissioner Bruce Adams in opposition.