The close of this year marks the end of my first year serving as mayor, and it has been a privilege to serve in this capacity. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and I look forward to working together as we move our city into 2019. I want to express my gratitude for all those who work and serve on behalf of and within our community. We are a small city, and many cities of our size struggle to keep staff for long, as nearby larger cities can offer more opportunity for career advancement. Yet, we’ve been fortunate to have a dedicated and highly qualified team of staff members that have stayed with us for many years and who are willing to wear multiple hats to meet the needs of our city. We have great people serving on our City Council who have all shown a commitment to working together to make the best decisions for our city. We have many incredible volunteers serving on committees or at various city events, and they each willingly give of their time to support and enhance our community. Additionally, we have many residents who serve in other ways and who provide insight and feedback and help keep Cedar Hills a wonderful place to live. Thank you, everyone, for all you contribute to our community. I anticipate that in 2019 we will see growth in our commercial zone, a new residential development near Walmart, and a new park next to Deerfield Elementary School. As always, we appreciate your feedback as we grow. I encourage you to reach out to me or any member of the Council to share your thoughts as items are discussed by the City Council. Have a wonderful holiday season!
Election Day is November 6th. As a reminder, Utah County conducts a vote-by-mail election. If you did not receive a ballot, you can vote in person on Election Day at the Cedar Hills City offices between the hours of 7:00 am and 8:00 pm. If you aren’t registered to vote, you can register on the day of the election and vote at the city offices. Also, if you prefer to drop your ballot off instead of mailing it, the city does have a secure ballot box where ballots can be submitted. If you are interested in researching the candidates and various propositions and amendments, please visit vote.utah.gov.
While on the subject of voting, this past legislative session the Utah State Legislature passed HB35, which is a pilot program allowing cities to conduct nonpartisan races using ranked-choice voting. In our October City Council meeting, a presentation was given showing how this would work. In a ranked-choice election, all candidates for each city office would be listed on the ballot and voters would rank them in order of preference. Candidates receiving more than 50% of the first choice votes would be elected. If there is no candidate who receives 50% in the first round, or if there are multiple open seats, the lowest vote getter would be eliminated and the ballots would be counted again based on the second choice, then third choice, continuing on until winners are selected based on receiving 50% or more of the votes. The main benefit to the city is that there is a cost savings as it eliminates the need for a primary election. There are a handful of large cities across the country now voting this way, however, it is a new concept in Utah. Any city wishing to participate in the pilot program next year has to notify the Lt. Governor’s Office by the end of this year. For a two-minute video showing how this works, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53z9feUiqdg.
I’m interested in hearing how residents feel about this option. Feel free to leave a message here or email me at email@example.com.
In the summer of 2017, the city gave notice to Lone Peak Public Safety District (our current provider for fire services) and American Fork Police Department (our current provider for police services) that we were going out to bid for public safety services to research all options available to our city. This was not to suggest that we were unhappy with the service provided by either entity, but as our public safety expenses have been steadily increasing while our revenues are not, we felt it was important to determine what options were available to us, just as we’ve done with other service contracts.
We received bids to provide both fire and police services from Lone Peak Public Safety, American Fork, and Pleasant Grove, and we received a bid from Utah County to provide police services only. As part of this process, we interviewed each entity individually, analyzed our call volumes for police and fire, and forecasted our expected budget revenues for the next several years. At the September 18th City Council meeting, the decision was made to go with American Fork for both fire and police services, which will go into effect July 1, 2019. At that time they will continue with our existing police services and will staff our current fire station with fire and EMS personnel. At some point, American Fork will be building a new fire station on the land south of Lone Peak and across from our commercial zone. While we expect that response times to our city from that new facility will continue to be within industry standards, American Fork is willing to amend our agreement to provide some staffing at our current station if we determine that is needed.
We wish to express our appreciation to those serving in the police and fire departments for the service they have provided to our community over the past 20 years. This decision was not an easy decision as all of the entities who submitted a proposal consist of highly qualified and experienced individuals who are dedicated to protecting the communities they serve. Our goal is to continue to provide high-quality service while also planning for our future needs with the understanding that our city will not be experiencing much new growth.
In June the City Council approved the certified property tax rate provided by Utah County. This tax rate is set by the county to provide the same amount of property tax revenue to the city as was collected in the previous year, excluding revenue generated by new growth. Because property values increased overall, the tax rate for Cedar Hills went down from .002024 to .001923.
Approximately 19% of each household’s overall property tax assessment goes to the city. The city has no control over the remaining amount paid to other entities such as the school district or the county. Of all the General Fund tax revenue, 27.7% comes from property tax, 50.7% comes from sales tax, and the remaining comes from other tax sources.
Other sources of revenue to the city come in the form of user fees, charges for services, and intergovernmental revenue. Examples of user-specific fees and services include fees for licenses and permits, utility fees, garbage and recycling fees, recreation fees, and passport fees. Intergovernmental revenue includes money received from the State Liquor Tax Allotment and Class C Road funds.
The city’s budget consists of the General Fund; Golf Fund; Class C Road Fund; Golf Debt Service Fund; Capital Projects Fund; Water, Sewer & Storm Drain Fund; and Motor Pool Fund. The budget, which can be found on the city’s website, provides detailed information on the revenue and expenses for each fund. The following pie charts provide a summary of the sources of revenue and the expenses for each fund.
Class C Road Fund
Golf Debt Service Fund
Capital Projects Fund
Water, Sewer, and Storm Drain Fund
Motor Pool Fund
The budget process lasts for several months with staff and officials analyzing every fund. City staff and officials work together to ensure that taxes and fees are being assessed and used judiciously and strive to provide quality services for residents. I appreciate the time and effort that is put into this process by all involved, and for the resident feedback, which helps guide decisions made by the City Council.
Earlier this year the State Legislature passed a new law, which mandates that cities plan for moderate income housing growth by adopting a moderate income housing plan. Cities are also now required to report on and publish data indicating the number of housing units in the city that qualify as low-income and moderate-income. While Cedar Hills does not have any housing that would qualify as low-income, there are some accessory apartments that will qualify as moderate-income housing. In order to comply with this new legislation, the City Council recently approved an updated ordinance related to basement apartments, or accessory dwelling units (ADU’s). In addition to complying with state legislation, the new ordinance makes it easier for residents to own and operate ADU’s within Cedar Hills. Some of the updates include:
- A permit and certificate of occupancy are required, but registration fees will only be assessed once per homeowner. Annual fees will no longer be required.
- Impact fees will no longer be assessed.
- Addresses for the main home and the ADU will be the same, however, the ADU will be listed with the city as the “B” unit so that first responders can be made aware of ADU’s and respond to the appropriate entrance in case of an emergency.
- Existing ADU’s that have not yet been registered with the city may qualify for some exceptions to the updated code.
- The newly adopted code related to accessory apartments may be found in Cedar Hills City Code §10-5-32
While we want to make the process of building and registering an ADU easier, homeowners who wish to have an ADU will still be required to meet building code requirements as it relates to safety (smoke detectors, safe electrical and plumbing, handrails, etc.,) and ordinances that apply to single-family homes, such as off-street parking, will also apply to ADU’s. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the updated ordinance or have questions on how to register an ADU, please contact the city offices at 801-785-9668.
The recycling industry is struggling in the United States. According to a recent bulletin provided by Waste Management, until this year almost 30% of all recyclables from around the world were shipped to China, including 50% of the world’s recyclable mixed paper and plastics. China has implemented new aggressive environmental goals, which include establishing their own recycling programs, and on January 1st banned all mixed paper and mixed plastic imports. Additionally, due to the cost associated with separating contaminated materials from recyclable items, on March 1st China began enforcing a new 0.5% contamination limit on imported recyclables. Then on May 3rd China announced it had suspended inspections for all recyclables from the U.S., and because all loads must be inspected and certified, this means that no recyclables will ship to China from the U.S. for at least a month.
Due to these issues and the cost of separating contaminated items that have been placed in recycling bins, Waste Management has increased rates for recycling toters. The rate for the first toter per household will increase from $4.79/month to $6.90/month and the rate for subsequent toters per household will increase from $2.24/month to $5.00/month. These increases are still less than paying for a second garbage container, which is $10.99/month.
While customers have no control over China’s new policies, we can help improve domestic demand by reducing the number of contaminated items being placed in recycling toters. Click here to see the most common contaminants. Waste Management has created a number of educational materials on how to best use the recycling program and we will be sharing those with residents over the next several weeks, but wanted residents to be aware of the associated rate increases that will be coming in July. For more information on the recycling industry and for helpful materials on how to recycle, please visit recycleoftenrecycleright.com.
I am happy to announce that on May 1, 2018, the City Council approved a settlement agreement to resolve a lawsuit with developer Cedar Hills Farmland, LLC and the property owner regarding the development of land located in the city’s commercial zone just south of Walmart. This piece of land has been in a litigation status since 2015 and the settlement will allow all parties to be fully released from all claims in connection with the development of the property.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the parties agree in concept to a proposal submitted by the developer to develop the property as a single-family planned unit development with up to 80 single family lots, 14,000 square feet of open space, and a 7,000 square foot commercial pad with associated parking. As part of the agreement, the city will consider formal action approving a new zoning district to accommodate the development, a development agreement, and preliminary and final subdivision plats. These items will be on a future agenda for the Planning Commission and City Council.
In 2013 Mr. Doug Young and representatives of the Smart family approached the city regarding the development of 11 acres owned by the Smart family and located in the city’s commercial zone. The original presentation included a five-story congregate care facility (55+ housing) on the Smart property and commercial/retail businesses located on the nine acres owned by the city, which is located on North County Blvd south of Harts. After several meetings with staff, Planning Commission, and elected officials to discuss the allowed uses in the zone, the application submitted by Mr. Young was to develop only the 11 acres of property owned by the Smarts and included a 291-unit 3-story congregate care facility and three commercial buildings.
During the discussions that occurred before and after Mr. Young submitted his application, a concern that was frequently raised was whether the congregate care facility was allowed per city code. The code stated that in the mixed-use office/retail zone, which included most of the Smart property, residential was only allowed if it was less than 50% of the building, was ancillary to retail, and was located on the upper levels of the building, not the main level. The only exception to this was assisted living facilities, which did not need to have a commercial component. As Mr. Young’s congregate care facility did not have any retail/commercial located in it, and as congregate care was not an allowed use in the zone, his proposal did not comply with city code.
Mr. Young indicated that he was willing to change his facility to be assisted living instead of congregate care, however, the feedback he was receiving from some members of the community was that congregate care was preferred over assisted living. For uses that are not expressly mentioned in city code, the City Council can make a determination on whether a project is “substantially similar” to something that is allowed or disallowed in code. On December 2, 2014, Mr. Young’s representative approached the Council and asked them to decide whether the congregate care facility being proposed could be considered substantially similar to an assisted living center, which is allowed in the mixed-use office/retail zone. After much debate, the Council voted 3-2 to allow congregate care to be treated as assisted living.
Once that decision was made, the Council was required by law to approve the congregate care facility but could impose conditions in order to address any adverse impacts the development would have on the community. The preliminary plans submitted by the developer included 291 housing units in the congregate care facility and three commercial buildings in the retail portion of the land. The layout presented is below.
Based on studies provided by the developer and performed at the request of the city, the Council approved the project on November 17, 2015 subject to fourteen conditions, which the city later reduced to ten. These conditions were all based on city code and included:
- Limiting the project to no more than 165 units;
- Requiring the congregate care facility to provide on-site services such as meals, healthcare, fitness classes, and social activities so that the facility was operating similarly to an assisted living center;
- Requiring 1.4 parking stalls per residential unit;
- Prohibiting outdoor overnight parking in areas adjacent to existing single-family homes, with covered parking provided in those areas;
- Requiring landscaping and open areas with linked pedestrian corridors designed to promote pedestrian activity and a walkable area;
- Constructing of the development in phases that include both commercial and residential components in order to keep with the intent of the commercial zone;
- Reducing the size and scale of the building to comply with the maximum density of 165 units;
- Requiring that each unit be occupied by at least one resident who is 55 years of age or older and not allowing for residents younger than 25 years of age;
- Requiring parking lights adjacent to single-family homes be low to the ground in bollards rather than on light poles; and
- Final approval of the project being made by the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Mr. Young appealed all conditions stating they were illegal and not supported. As part of the appeal, Mr. Young and the city agreed to both submit arguments to the State Land Use Ombudsman for an opinion. While the opinion of the Land Use Ombudsman is not legally binding, the opinions of this office closely align with what a court will eventually decide. Additionally, both parties must agree that once the Ombudsman provides an opinion and either party decides to go to court, the losing party must pay attorney’s fees for both parties.
On December 28, 2017, the Land Use Ombudsman provided an advisory opinion. The only conditions upheld were the requirement of 1.4 parking stalls, the requirement to have covered parking adjacent to single-family homes, and the requirement for bollard lighting instead of pole lighting in parking areas adjacent to single-family homes. All other conditions were dismissed as unlawful and unenforceable.
After the Ombudsman’s opinion was released, Mr. Young requested a meeting with the city’s attorney to discuss a possible settlement. In the end, the settlement agreed on by the City Council and Mr. Young was for a residential community consisting of 80 single-family homes, 14,000 square feet of open space, and a 7,000 square foot commercial building. While this changes the use of that land from commercial to residential, the city agreed to the settlement for several reasons.
- Based on the Ombudsman’s opinion, the city’s chances of prevailing in court on all 10 conditions were slim. Whether the city was required to approve the 291-unit congregate care facility or agreed to the settlement, the land would be used for residential purposes, not commercial.
- Throughout this process, the number one concern heard from residents was related to the density of the project. The settlement lowered the number of housing units from 291 to 80.
- The original project was for a large facility of leased units as a senior apartment complex. The new agreement will be homes that are purchased, not leased.
- The layout and use of the land with the settlement matches the adjacent residential area, whereas the 291-unit congregate care facility would be very dense and would be the tallest building in the city. The proposed zone change under the settlement agreement better fits with the rest of the community and the surrounding area.
The developer of the project will go through the subdivision approval process as outlined in city code, which means they will submit plans to the Planning Commission and the City Council for review. Additionally, the rezoning of this land for residential use will go to the Planning Commission and City Council. The concept plans provided by the developer at this point are provided below, though these plans could change as it goes through the approval process. However, the number of houses will not exceed 80 and the size of the commercial building will remain the same. Additionally, this will be an HOA community and the intent of the developer is to market it as a 55+ HOA.
While the original intent of this land was to serve as a commercial district for providing residents with retail goods and services, we are pleased that the resolution consists of 80 individually-owned homes instead of the original proposal of a 291-unit senior residential facility with leased units. I appreciate the feedback we received from residents throughout this process, and the help of our staff and legal team to finalize an agreement that satisfied all parties. We look forward to welcoming a new neighborhood into our community and adding some additional retail space to our commercial zone.