Lingering tensions were evident at the Sept. 17 meeting of the Grand County Council as County Attorney Christina Sloan reported on her review of the study committee’s recommendation on a new form of government for the county. 

Sloan’s report revealed four legal violations in the committee’s plan which must be corrected before being placed on a ballot. The study committee will not have time to address the issues in time for the recommendation to be on the ballot this November.

Councilmember Curtis Wells was dismayed that the proposal will not be voted on this year.

“It’s unfortunate because everybody―most people―were hoping to get on with this, and timing-wise it lines up with our election cycle. So I’m disappointed,” Wells said.

Wells asked the county attorney about her review process and the study committee’s response to her findings.

Sloan dismissed any notion that the issues raised were trivial.

“They’re all major issues―they’re all violations,” she said, remarking that she had consulted with County Clerk and Auditor Chris Baird and Gavin Anderson, the attorney retained by the study committee, as well as outside legal experts.

“I didn’t make these decisions in a bubble,” she said.

Bob Greenberg, a member of the study committee, gave his take on Sloan’s review.

“I suspect the study committee will move to adopt specific cures to the issues that the county attorney has raised―and at least in my reading of her report, they’re really pretty easily fixed,” Greenberg said.

Sloan noted that she was supposed to have forty-five days to review the recommendation, but was only given twenty-three days before the deadline to get the plan on the 2019 ballot.

“I think what caused your disappointment, Curtis, is the delay in the study committee getting started, which was caused by a lawsuit that left the study committee very little time to complete its work prior to the deadlines for the election,” Greenberg said.

“So are the doors closed, one hundred percent, on having this question on the ballot this year?” Wells asked Baird.

“It’s not happening this year,” Baird confirmed.

VOTES ON REZONES

Grand County Council revisited several rezoning proposals discussed at past meetings.

At the council meeting on Sept. 3, community members had expressed clear concerns about a proposal to rezone a 24-acre lot at the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 313 from range-grazing to a business-commercial type zone.

This zoning change would allow the owners of the property to develop a commercial plaza, with proposed plans including fast-food restaurants and housing.

“I think that area has a lot of potential, and I would like to see an overall plan in place,” councilmember Evan Clapper noted, as the council declined to approve the request at the meeting.

There was no such reluctance to approve the request to rezone a small lot in Cisco.

The owners of the old general store in Cisco want to reopen the store as The Buzzard’s Belly. To do so, they requested that the lot be rezoned from range-grazing to neighborhood-residential. The council voted unanimously in favor.

“I am much more comfortable converting half an acre to commercial than twenty-four acres on 191,” Clapper said.

GOODBYE TO COUNTY EMPLOYEES

Grand County bid farewell to two of its employees at the meeting.

Kaitlin Myers is a community development specialist at the county’s Department of Community and Economic Development, but she has accepted a new position with the City of Moab as Senior Project Manager and will be transitioning next week. Zacharia Levine, the department’s director, praised Myers’ work.

“I just wanted to publicly acknowledge the incredible contributions that Kaitlin has made to our department and to the county,” Levine said. “Thank you very much, and I’m glad to be keeping you in the community. We will all benefit from your contributions for years to come.”

Jeff Whitney is retiring after 30 years of service to the county as chief building official and county floodplain administrator. His supervisor, County Administrator Ruth Dillon, presented him with a plaque and shared some of Whitney’s achievements with the council. He has served on various committees and has been involved with the International Code Council, winning an award from that organization and serving as the president of the board of the Utah chapter.

As she listed his accomplishments, Whitney stood at the podium in his signature cowboy hat and boots.

“He actually holds, last I heard, fourteen certifications, but I’m probably low on that number,” Dillon said during her presentation.

“Fifteen,” Whitney corrected her quietly.

NO NEED TO EXPLAIN

Evan Tyrrell, the manager of the Solid Waste Special Service District # 1, began to ask the council to approve the donation of two modular units from the school district to the Solid Waste District to be used as new administrative offices and as storage for reusable materials.

Tyrrell began his pitch by saying, “We’re looking to replace our administrative office building―”

Before Tyrrell could continue, the council’s support was clear.

“It looks great, I love it,” Clapper said, referring to documents describing the proposal.

Councilmember Mary McGann made a motion to approve the measure, which passed unanimously.