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Archive for August, 2009

By Emily Sanderson — August 26, 2009

EPHRAIM — To improve traffic flow, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has decided to change Main Street to four lanes through town from the 400 South to 300 North intersections, Robert Dowell of UDOT informed the city council at the Aug. 19 meeting.

In addition, other sections of Main Street may receive a center turn lane to reduce the hazard of vehicles making left turns.

Despite the road widening, there will still be enough room along Main Street to maintain parallel parking.

The striping will happen next week on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.  Traffic will be diverted to side streets three intersections at a time until the slurry seal can be applied and can set.  Also, there will be limited parking on Main Street those days, so residents and businesses should move their vehicles onto side streets.

Application of the slurry seal will go on top of the existing road surface.

Slurry seal will also be applied to the eastern portions of Center Street and 100 North (north and south of Snow College from U.S. 89 to 400 East) on Labor Day, Sept. 7.

UDOT is working with the school to inform students, particularly those going out of town that weekend, to remove their cars.

At the meeting, members of the city council also requested that UDOT research two factors, including whether adding a light at 400 South is needed, particularly when the school crosswalk is moved to that intersection once the new elementary school is completed.

They also asked whether the road speed on Main Street could be reduced to 30 miles per hour.

“Reducing speed will help to promote businesses on Main Street,” said Councilman Kim Cragun.  “Anything we can do to calm that traffic will be a plus.”

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By Emily Sanderson — August 26, 2009

SPRING CITY — Sidewalks along Main Street and along adjoining streets need to be repaired and, in some instances, replaced; however, funding to do so is limited.

Councilman Boyd Mickel, who chaired the city council meeting Aug. 6, proposed that the sidewalk project would be done in a joint effort where the city provides materials and the residents do the labor.

“We would use money from the road fund, but that will take away from the roads,” Mickel said.

“The east and west sides of Main Street need to be completely replaced,” he said.  “Most don’t have sidewalks at all.”

Councilman Mike Workman was resistant to pursue the project but agreed something needs to be done.  He participated on a committee two years ago, but the committee’s recommendations were “shot down” by the city council.

“Who is responsible? The city or the residents?” Workman asked.  “As a property owner, I find it frustrating that no one can make up their minds.”

Mickel proposed they lay out a plan and pursue funding sources.

“Some grant money is available if we apply in time,” Workman said.

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August 19, 2009

SPRING CITY — Because of liability issues, the city council agreed to close the Old School for meeting and other activities until remodeling has been completed.  The building is also being rekeyed.

The city is also considering changing the rate at which they rent rooms in the City Hall on Center Street, such as the gym.  The city council has on their agenda to discuss new rates and other potential changes in city facilities rentals at their September meeting.

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August 19, 2009

SPRING CITY — The city council agreed to hire a new certified journeyman to mentor their present lineman, Ben Harward, who has a master’s degree in electrician work and needs to work as an apprentice under another journeyman, said Deborah Dahl, city recorder.

The new journeyman will provide electrical upgrades to the hydroelectric plant and throughout the city to accommodate growth in the community.

Before a journeyman can be hired, the city agreed to contract out three projects that need to be done this fall.  They include (1) moving a transformer off a pole and onto the ground at the hydroelectric plant so the roof and be repaired, (2) installing a 7,200-volt line into town to improve electrical connections to the elementary school, city facilities and other downtown connections and (3) extending lines and hook-ups to new homes.

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By Suzanne Dean — Aug. 19, 2009

EPHRAIM — An Ephraim city councilwoman has objected to any inference that Ephraim City leaders tried to sway the outcome of a vote regarding the Manti-Ephraim Airport by taking up the issue while she was absent.

Councilwoman Elaine Reid visited the Messenger office Monday and strenuously objected to a statement in the Messenger story last week about a city-council vote on zoning around the airport runway.  The zoning is a step toward implementation of a proposed airport master plan.

The story reported that at the Aug. 5 council meeting, Councilmen Kim Cragun and David Warren voted in favor of the zoning recommendation, while Councilmen Terry Lund and David Parrish voted against it.  The story reported that Mayor Cliff Birrell then voted in favor of the recommendation, breaking the 2-2 tie.

The story added that “Councilwoman Elaine Reid, a known opponent of the measure, was not present at the meeting.”

That was the statement Reid objected to.  She said she was absent because she was in Rhode Island attending her grandson’s wedding.  The fact that the airport zoning came up while she was gone was pure coincidence, she said.

Asked how she would have voted, she replied, “I’m not saying.”

But she did say, “I’m not happy about them [airport] taking land, and I don’t care who knows it.”

The Federal Aviation Administration gave Ephraim City a grant to develop the airport plan.  Reid said she would have preferred to spend the money cleaning up weeds on the airport property and installing a gas pump so planes could refuel.

Ephraim City Manager Richard Anderson backed up Reid’s contention that scheduling of the vote had nothing to do with her absence.  He says he writes agenda items on a whiteboard in his office.  At the time he put the zoning vote on the Aug. 5 agenda, he had no idea who would or would not be at the Aug. 5 meeting, he says.

He says people who have talked up the notion that the city was trying to “stack the deck” are speculating.  “I know the facts, and the speculation is wrong,” he says.

Messenger Managing Editor John Hales says he discussed the story on the airport vote with reporter Emily Sanderson before publication.  Reid’s position on the issue was one thing they discussed.

Monday, Hales said he had decided to leave the statement about Reid’s sentiments in the article because it squared with information he received from another source he deemed to be credible.

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By Emily Sanderson — August 12, 2009

EPHRAIM — Ephraim Mayor Cliff Birrell broke a 2-2 vote at a city council meeting last week, sending the Manti-Ephraim Airport Board’s zoning recommendation for land around the airport to the Sanpete County Planning and Zoning Commission for review.

At the Aug. 5 meeting, councilmen Kim Cragun and David Warren voted yes for the measure; councilmen Terry Lund and David Parrish voted no.  Councilwoman Elaine Reid, a known opponent of the measure, was not present at the meeting.

“There has been a lot of turmoil among a few people in  the valley, particularly those who have land around it,” said Ted Meikle, chair of the Airport Board.  But “these concerns don’t exist.  If they did I would be worried about them, but they do not.”

“With the exception of Paul Frishknecht, the zoning will cause no impingement on land owners,” Meikle said.

But Richard V. Nielson, a landowner near the airport, disagreed.

“I am opposed to [the proposed zoning] because it will affect the roads,” he said.  “If we expand the airport …, it will take a large chunk out of someone’s land to move [Keller] road.”

Meikle stated that moving the road would result in minimal impact on the Windy Meadow Cattle Company property as well as on propety of other landowners on the southwestern edge of the airport.

“We are not talking about taking away any country road access,” he said.  “We are just looking at adding a jog left and a jog right — maybe an additional quarter mile of distance.”

Paul Frishknecht, a local attorney and farmer, owns the parcel of land earmarked for future southern expansion of the airport runway.  The parcel would be acquisitioned either through eminent domain or a selling agreement should the airport be expanded in the future.

In addition, a parcel of Don Robbins’ land falls into an area at the southern end of the proposed airport expansion identified as a runway protection zone.  Because of the extent of building limitations in  that parcel, the land would be placed into an easement at the time of expansion.

The city wouldn’t have any use for that land unless there was an expansion of the airport, Richard Anderson, Ephraim City manager, told the Messenger.

But Mayor Birrell said in last week’s city council meeting that Frishknecht had already indicated an interest in selling his land.

Frishknecht, however, denies saying that.

“Hell no,” he said.  “I think it’s really disgusting what they are doing.  If they want to have a fight, I’m ready.  I don’t have to hire an attorney.”

If the zoning is approved, Frishknecht’s and Robbins’ properties would be restricted from the building of any structures for the next 20 to 30 years.

About 10 or 15 years ago, much of the land around the airport was assigned public facilities zoning.  The airport board’s recommendation to the county is that the zoning around the airport be changed to agricultural or commercial to mirror present-day uses for landowners.

That zoning would accompany the airport’s proposed overlay zone, a rectangular overlay — 1,000 feet from each side of the runway’s centerline and 2,000 feet from each end of the potential runway — in which development of land would be restricted.

Agricultural and commercial zoning best accommodate the compatible land-use zone, which would limit residences to one per five acres and would also limit how many and how often people could congregate in the area.  The zone would also have height restrictions for trees and structures.

Chairman Meikle explained that the board’s zoning recommendation asked the county to allow landowners to build homes on existing roads, rather than on interior roads that would need to be built.

But it also recommended that zoning never be changed to residential, which would be required to build a subdivision there, Mayor Birrell told the Messenger.

“If Paul Frishknecht wants to use it for agriculture, no problem,” he said. “But if he wants to build high rise apartments –”

Councilman Parrish protested the recommendations.  “I am a citizen of this country and a property owner,” he said.  “We are restricting people’s property rights.”

That’s a concern that landowners have had for a long time.  Paul Frishknecht told the Messenger in a Feb. 25 article that he is not happy that the zoning would be applied now for expansion that may or may not happen 20 or 30 years down the road.

“If it gets rezoned now, then the property owners’ hands are tied,” he said.

He elaborated on that following last week’s council decision.

“I’ve been around for a long time,” he said.  “Whatever they do with that airport is going to be dictated by financing.  If it’s something  that needs to be done, they should wait until they can buy the property before they make a decision.”

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By Emily Sanderson — August 12, 2009

EPHRAIM — While Ephraim City Council discussed zoning recommendations relative to the Manti-Ephraim Airport master plan at last week’s council meeting, the master plan itself is currently under review at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The airport board approved the master plan at a meeting held in June and forwarded the plan to the FAA.

“No formal council approval was needed to send it on to the FAA,” said Mayor Cliff Birrell.

The plan was the same as that approved by the airport board in February, except with one change.

“One thing that hadn’t been acknowledged [in the plan] was the opposition point of view,” Mayor Birrell said.  “We added a noted that there was a small number of individuals that [protested the plan].”

A master plan that is updated every 10 years is required of all airports that receive FAA funding.  The master plan will provide direction, should the community experience growth and expansion of the airport, he said.

“The plan has no power in itself but will work as a guide,” he said.

Once the FAA has reviewed the master plan, it will send back comments to the airport board that may include suggested changes to language within the plan.  Those comments will be discussed in a future airport board meeting, said Richard Anderson, Ephraim City manager and member of the airport board.

The zoning recommendations submitted to the county last week are intended to work in conjunction with the master plan.

“The plan that we approved at the last council meeting [Aug. 8] suggests to the county commissioners how to zone land around the airport,” Mayor Birrell said.  “The master plan doesn’t propose zoning but it proposes land use.  If growth takes place and there is a necessity to enlarge the airport, the master plan provides direction on how the expansion would take place.”

Mayor Birrell also explained that it would be the FAA that would direct and manage future growth of the airport in 20 or 30 years, just as it oversaw the construction of a turnaround on the north end of the airport this summer.

If the FAA were to expand the airport in the future, they would have to consider at least three options accompanied by feasibility studies for each.  For example, one option may be to move the airport entirely Mayor Birrell said.

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