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On our front page this week


  • Update on Mona City’s general plan crucial for future growth

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

Mona needs an updated city general plan and the sooner the better. Growth can only be controlled with a good plan, otherwise the city has little control. Greg Newton, mayor, told the council at the last meeting that he knew the city had a general plan and that he would find where it was filed. He did just that; the only problem is is that the general plan was written and published in 1982. It does still provide some protection for the city. Shannon Ellsworth, one of the principals with Rural Community Consultants, LLC., was asked by the council to prepare a proposal of the costs associated with a general plan for the time it would take to accomplish the work. She was also asked to prepare a proposal for taking over the city’s codification program. “Your general plan is older than I am,” said Ellsworth. She said that it should be updated by the city so that they would be prepared for the future. “Expect growth,” she said. “Expect a lot of growth.” Now was the time for the community to plan for the future and to decide where certain elements should be located. Ellsworth is over community engagement, land use planning, environmental planning, graphic design and marketing and would like to assist the city in developing a general plan for the city. Rural Community Consultants, LLC, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jones & DeMille Engineering. Jones & DeMille has been serving rural communities since 1982. “There are funding options for doing a general plan,” said Ellsworth. She said the CIB was usually supportive of general plans being written. To her knowledge, the board had always funded such projects. It would likely be a 50/50 loan grant. The general plan would, if her company did it, likely cost between $35,000 and $50,000. Getting funding from CIB can take a few months but the plan can also take four to five months and may even take as much as 10 months depending on what the city wants done. “At your request, I did a quick audit (of the existing general plan),” said Ellsworth. She presented council members with the results of the quick audit and its color code. Red was for a high level of concern, green was for good, gray was for information that was not found, and yellow was for information not found on the city website. The general plan is not current, was adopted in 1982, and bears a red dot on the evaluation done by Ellsworth. Also outdated, and bearing a red identification dot, is the transportation element, the moderate income housing plan and the land use plan Not found in the general plan is the current official land use map, a current zoning ordinance, a current zoning map and implementation steps. “We do have a transportation plan,” said Lynn Ingram, city planning commission chairman. “It should have been digitized.” The moderate income housing element is to be updated bi-annually. Utah State code states that each municipality must have a general plan which must include the following elements: Land Use; Transportation and traffic circulation; and Moderate income housing. “In the 1982 general plan, there was not a whole lot on land use,” said Ellsworth. “There was not a commercial zone, for example.” “You have to tell people the ‘why’ of your requirements,” said Ellsworth. “It is like a 4-year-old always asking ‘Why?’ But you have to have a reason.” In making decisions, the council should ask why they were planning a certain use for a certain area. The land element of the general plan should include goals, extend, distribution and location for housing, industry, business, agriculture, recreation, education, public buildings and grounds and open space, among others. “There are not a lot of restrictions,” said Ellsworth. The city council can determine where housing should be, where business should be and where industry should be. “We had a lot of training about housing,” said Newton. “We can’t say, ‘No’, we have to have a zone.” The state legislature dictates that there be housing areas for median income homes but a city can determine where the best areas for that housing are. As for rampant growth, he said, unless there was more water available, the population would not be able to grow. The water issue was an important one. Jeff Hearty, council member, said that land now used for farming might become subdivisions in the future as children who would inherit those farms would likely sell the land. That would free up some water for human consumption. In the late 1990s, when Envision Utah did its first large visioning effort, the average person in the Greater Wasatch Area used 319 gallons of water per day. Since that time, water consumption has been cut by 25 percent, saving trillions of gallons per year. This was achieved by using less land for new houses. Smaller lot sizes meant less outdoor watering. According to the figures first established by the Utah Foundation, in a report called “A Snapshot of 2050, An Analysis of Project Population Change in Utah,” Juab County is projected to grow from 10,246 in 2010 to 23,832 in 2050. (See: http://www.utahfoundation.org/uploads/rr720.pdf.) The growth projects mentioned for Juab County a couple of months ago were that the county would have 60,000 residents by 2050. Katrina Long, council member, wondered how to incorporate businesses and a commercial district that wanted to locate outside the city. “If they hook up to your sewer system, they have to annex inside the city boundaries,” said Ellsworth. There were some health department restrictions that would also need to be considered, said Newton. Ingram said that, with the new service station, the city worked with the owner to have the station annex and connected to services. Ingram wondered if the city should not review the ordinances and then make the general plan match. “It is, legally, better to do the general plan first,” said Ellsworth. “The other way is like the tail wagging the dog.” As part of their work, she said, they will conduct surveys , some of them electronically, and will hold meetings to find out what residents would like to see done. An open house would allow people to doodle on maps. “We will also give windshield tours,” she said. “We take people, one at a time, for a tour of the city and ask them what they would like to see.”