What involvement have you had with volunteering for the city in the past?
During my 3 ½ years on the City Council I have served with the Planning Commission, Family Festival Committee, Parks & Trails Committee, Finance Committee, and the Cultural Arts Committee. For the week of Family Festival I volunteer for most of the events.
If you could choose 2 council assignments after you hopefully get elected, what would they be and why?
All of the assignments are important and benefit the city and I would be happy to work on any assignment given to me. Narrowing it down to two, I would choose the Family Festival Committee and the Planning Commission. I have loved serving with the Family Festival committee as Family Festival is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It is great to see so many members of our community come together at the various events, have fun, and build relationships. I have also enjoyed serving with the Planning Commission. They spend a lot of time learning and understanding our city code and making recommendations on a variety of issues. I always find their meetings informative and helpful. The Planning Commission is also working on revising our Design Guidelines and will be making a recommendation on a proposed development in our commercial area, both of which are big topics in the city right now. I would enjoy the opportunity to continue serving with them.
What do you think should happen with the property south of Walmart owned by the Smart Family?
While I support the rights of the Smart family to sell their property for development, I also believe that development in our community should comply with city ordinances and guidelines. This parcel of property is located in the city’s SC-1 zone, which according the our zoning ordinances, “is established to provide an area in which the primary use of land is for commercial and service uses to serve the needs of the community and surrounding area” and “is intended that development within the zone shall be characterized by a harmonious grouping of commercial stores and shops.” According to our General Plan, “the zone allows the community to better balance the tax base, and provides residents with employment opportunities, retail goods, and office space.” It goes on to say that “Cedar Hills will encourage commercial development which will directly benefit the residents of the community.”
There is a portion of the Smart property which is located in the Mixed-Use Office/Retail subzone of the SC-1 zone and is the site of a current proposal for the development of a 55+ housing complex. According to our Design Guidelines, this designation “is intended to accommodate less intense uses than found in the Neighborhood Retail designation. The lower intensity may be due to size, scale, and height of the structure or due to less-intense land use.” The Design Guidelines also state “The City of Cedar Hills values the tranquil environment that currently exists and would like to preserve the small town atmosphere.” With regards to development, it states that “considerations shall include density, diversity, and design.”
I feel our zoning ordinances, General Plan, and Design Guidelines are very clear as to what type of development should be permitted on this property. I believe that any proposed development should meet the intent of the zone and our ordinances. While I recognize it may take some time to get the type of commercial that our zoning laws intend, I believe we should be patient and do it right so that our community benefits from the development. I am opposed to high density housing in our commercial zone and feel that the proposals that have been presented so far do not meet with our ordinances and guidelines.
Many in the community think revenue at the golf course would go up if cold beer was sold at the club house. Many have also heard that a lot of golfers bring in their own beer to drink while they golf anyway. Do you support selling beer at the clubhouse?
I do not support this. I’ve found it hard to believe that selling beer at the course will have much of an impact on our revenue. However, I’m not a golfer and don’t know the industry, so last week I met with our Golf Course Manager to get his thoughts on this and a few other topics. He knows this business well and his an asset to our city. He advised against selling beer at the course. He agreed that it would not have a significant impact on our revenues as most of our golfers who drink beer know we don’t sell it so they bring their own, and those who don’t know have us hold their tee times while they purchase beer and come back. He went on to express a few concerns, one of them being that, in Utah, the law states any individual can be held personally liable for selling alcohol to a person who is intoxicated if the individual should have known the person was actually or apparently intoxicated. He also expressed concern that it may impact the number of youth in the community who can work at the golf course.
I would prefer our facility to be a place where teens in our community have the opportunity to work. I also do not want our staff to be put in a position where they have to determine if a person is intoxicated and face potential charges if they aren’t aware. Lastly, I believe that selling alcohol at the golf course would cause controversy and contention within the city, which is the last thing we need. Because it won’t have a significant impact on our revenue, and because of the risks and downsides involved, I don’t think we should sell beer at the course. I am fine with allowing golfers to bring their own.
Do you think we should have a public swimming pool? If so, how should we pay for it and go about deciding to build it?
While my family and I would love to have a local swimming pool, I feel that it would be a financial burden on our city at this time. Most of the surrounding communities that do have a pool are considerably larger than Cedar Hills and have a sales tax base that we will never have. That being said, if the majority of our residents want a pool then I feel we should research this option. I would want the city to have a feasibility study done that provides accurate information on the cost to build a pool and the cost of ongoing annual operations and management. This information and the subsequent increase in taxes that each household would realize should be shared with residents and placed on a ballot for a vote.
How can we better utilize the community center basement for community wide activities?
To start, I want to say that our Recreation Director does a great job of analyzing the participation rates for each of our recreation programs to make sure that what we provide each year is what our residents want. I believe that community events and recreation programs should receive first priority at the community center. However, I also feel it is important that we are offering classes and activities that are being utilized. Looking over the past three years it is clear that adult classes don’t do well. We offered adult aerobics and bootcamp classes early on and this year we offered a free gardening class. None of these were well attended. At the same time, we do currently offer karate classes, youth acting classes, and youth singing and dance classes at the community center, all of which are well attended. We also have our annual Santa party in December where families can enjoy cocoa and a dessert while the kids visit with Santa. Looking at what has worked and what hasn’t over the past three years, I feel we should focus on adding additional youth programs and family events, as those seem to be what our residents are looking for. I encourage residents to share ideas on events and activities that we should include.
What should we do with the grill in the community center?
This is another area where I think we need to provide something that residents want. The grill opened in 2012 and the city attempted to run it for a time. It was losing money so we changed course and entered into a contract with two separate vendors to operate the grill. Neither entity was successful. After three years of trying without success, I am led to believe we are providing an amenity that most of our residents do not want; at least not in the form of a full-time grill. I recently had a conversation with our Golf Course Manager on this topic as our golf staff work in that building and see firsthand when people were coming to the grill. He recommended that we open the grill for shorter hours (10am-3pm Monday – Friday and 8:00am-3pm on Saturdays) and have a smaller menu. This way, labor costs are reduced since the grill isn’t open all day and food costs go down as there is less wasting of food with a smaller menu. It appears that most of the customers who visited the grill came during those hours. I think this is an idea worth exploring.
Mayors and Council members from all over the state regularly attend the Utah League of Cities and Towns training conventions twice a year to get trained on state and city laws so they can stay within the bounds of the law while serving. Do you feel like this is an effective use of your time? Are you willing to go to these two conferences yearly even though they can be a big sacrifice of time?
I have attended ULCT trainings every year since I became a council member and have found them to be very informative and helpful. The annual conference is in September in Salt Lake City, and the semi-annual conference is in April in St. George. I attended both conferences in 2012 and just the Salt Lake City conference in 2013 and 2014. I chose to attend the Salt Lake conferences because they are just as informative, but the cost to the city is less. If re-elected, I will continue to attend the ULCT conference in Salt Lake so that I can stay up-to-date on laws and issues that affect cities.
How will you solicit input on different issues from different segments of the city? Many issues in the city affect one section more than another?
One of the best way to receive input is to encourage resident involvement. Over the past 3 ½ years we have created new resident-driven committees that have been formed to research specific issues facing the city and present recommendations to the City Council. This type of resident involvement and input is invaluable and I appreciate all of the residents who have been willing to serve on these committees.
In addition, I think it is important for the city to continue with the large survey done every two years as this is a wonderful way to get feedback from residents. I would also like to see the city utilize technology to survey residents each January before the annual Council retreat to get feedback on what residents feel should be the goals and priorities for the upcoming year.
I believe that all elected officials should stay engaged with those whom they represent. I have stayed engaged with residents through social media and online forums, emails, phone calls, and personal visits. These have all proven to be effective ways to hear from residents. I will continue to utilize these avenues of communication to solicit input from residents.
What would you do to encourage retail development in the city?
It is important to realize that some factors that a business looks at when deciding to open a location are out of our control, such as daily traffic rates, number of households within a certain radius, and demographics of a location. I think we can do our part by being perceived as a business-friendly city. I would like to see our Design Guidelines updated with more clarity so that business owners and developers are clear on what we are looking for. Working with the media for positive media coverage is helpful as controversy and contention only scare businesses away. While we are waiting for the right retail to come to our commercial zone, I would like to see us think of other ways to bring services to the community. For example, I was an advocate for a food truck night once a week during the spring and summer months so that residents have a variety of food options to choose from. This was recently approved by the City Council and will begin at the end of this month. I believe this can bring some recognition to our community within the food industry as these vendors see that residents want food options and are willing to support the businesses in our city.
How would you propose revising our general plan or design guidelines to improve Cedar Hills?
I would like our Design Guidelines to provide more clarity, and I would like our General Plan and Design Guidelines to clearly indicate what types of commercial businesses our residents want in Cedar Hills. I am happy to hear that the resident-driven General Plan Committee has put together a survey and is asking residents to provide feedback on our commercial zone. The Planning Commission has spent many meetings discussing recommendations for the Design Guidelines. Our General Plan and Design Guidelines should align with the will of our residents as they dictate what type of development should be allowed and encouraged.
What influence if any do you think Cedar Hills City government can have on the future of American Fork Canyon?
I believe that all elected officials should represent the will of the people they represent. A good start was the Resolution recently passed by the City Council asking for the County to oppose the land swap proposed by Mountain Accord. This came about after hearing the concerns of many residents. While the city government will not have a vote on what happens with the canyon, I believe that the residents of Cedar Hills can have an impact by making their views and concerns known and advocating for elected officials on the city and county level to create resolutions that support the will of the residents.
What skills or knowledge do you bring to the council?
As an incumbent, I have almost four years of experience working on issues that face the city. This history and knowledge of city issues is valuable as many of those issues still exist. I have been a strong advocate of communication and transparency and have worked hard to implement ideas and tools that provide residents with a variety of ways to stay informed on city issues. I have a good working relationship with officials and staff and value their input and opinions. If re-elected, I will continue to focus on communication and give the appropriate time and attention to my Council assignments. I believe all elected officials are first and foremost representatives and should be actively engaged in the community. I am willing to listen and discuss any resident concern and while we may not agree in the end, I want every resident to feel that their representatives are taking the time to hear them out.
What is one area where Cedar Hills is strong and one area that you would like to see improvement?
One of my favorite things about Cedar Hills is the sense of community that exists here. I am impressed with how many freely volunteer their time to work on city issues and events. At last count, we have seven resident-driven committees currently working on city items, which equates to about 50 volunteers. Each year we have over 100 residents volunteer at different events for our Family Festival. It is this desire to serve that makes Cedar Hills a wonderful place to live. One area where I would like to see improvement is in dealing with differences of opinion with regards to city politics. We can be very passionate, and unfortunately that has, at times, led to personal attacks and accusations. I would like to see us able to discuss the issues without the negativity. That type of negativity only leads to bad media coverage and bad feelings in our city.
What would you recommend we do with the golf course?
I am not a golfer and have never golfed. I wish we weren’t in the golf course business. That being said, I recognize that the golf course is an asset to our city and we have an obligation to pay back the debt which we incurred. I don’t mind discussing other options; I know we have in the 3 ½ that I’ve served and I know that previous Councils have also explored other options. It is good to discuss other options, but I haven’t yet seen a better option that makes sense for the city financially and legally. While an alternative was recently offered, I believe some of the assumptions are wrong and am happy to see that the Golf Course Committee is being reconvened to research this alternative and the data provided. I am a big believer that, to the extent possible, we should pay our debts and live up to the obligations we entered into.