Businesses urge council not to rush with amendments

David Anderson with Superior Rental expresses concern to the Evanston City Council about proposed amendments to city code that would define light rental service and office. The amendment passed on first reading, but the council will address it again at this week’s work session. “The council needs to think this through before making a decision. Look deeper into this,” Anderson told the council during last week’s meeting. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — First on the agenda at the Evanston City Council meeting held Tuesday, May 21, was to confirm the appointment of Amanda Kirby to fill the position of city prosecutor, effective June 1, through January 2020. The appointment was approved unanimously.

Current city prosecutor Paul Skog is retiring from the position after serving 13 years. Mayor Kent Williams and the council thanked Skog and the mayor presented him with a gift from the city.

Under the consent agenda, a street closure was requested by Travis and Jennifer Wilson for a neighborhood block party on Thursday, July 4, on Summit Street between 6th and 7th streets, from 5 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. The request was approved.

In new business, associate city planner DuWayne Jacobsen brought Ordinance 19-05 amending Section 24-15 (b) of the City Code to set forth the permitted and conditionally permitted uses for the commercial and business districts and amending Section 24-105 to add the definitions of light rental service and office.

Jacobsen provided the history behind the requested amendments. He and Dean Barker had met for months with business owners and other interested parties on a committee exploring definitions and concerns. They had finally come to an agreement on the definitions, which Jacobsen presented to the council.

There were a number of comments from the public attending and much discussion regarding this ordinance and amendments among the mayor and council. The definition of office and light rental services caused the most conflict and concern.

Williams asked, “What about the problem of transferability of an office when the business remains the same?”

“That will be in another amendment that we are working on with (city attorney) Dennis Boal and will be presented at a later date,” Jacobsen responded.

Several council members expressed concern with limiting the definition of office for downtown buildings as they felt it would result in more empty, boarded-up buildings.

When the discussion turned to the definition of light rental services and the limitations included in the amendment, several audience members came to the podium to express their concerns.

Dave Anderson with Superior Rental said he had a personal interest in the matter. He said he had worked with planning and zoning on this some time back and in looking at the city’s master plan, there was nothing in it on rental services.  

“Location, location, location means everything to a business,” Anderson said. “Downtown is the look and feel of a town. The reason for the 500-pound limit is so the downtown area won’t become an industrial area. I have pictures of the back areas of Walmart, Murdoch’s and Hogman’s and you don’t want trash and unsightly things in the back of buildings or out in the open. My business is in an industrial zone and it is clean. The council needs to think this through before making a decision. Look deeper into this.” 

Williams asked, “If we pass this, how does it affect existing business?”

Councilman Tib Ottley said, “We have no enforcement if we do pass these zoning rules and someone goes against them.”

Travis Hogman of Hogman Lumber and The Lumberyard addressed the council next saying, “In 2016, when I purchased the lumber business lots of people were going to Utah to buy lumber and while there, they bought lots of other items: groceries, supplies and more. For every $1 that is spent, there is a $40 residual amount brought into the community. Forty-seven percent of households within a 20-minute drive of my business make less than $50,000 a year and they cannot afford to buy large equipment; they need to be able to rent it.”

Hogman said he made a list of businesses in Uinta County that provide rental services and that almost every business does some form of rentals. He mentioned a few of those businesses: Castle Rock, Smith’s, Mountain Music, Maverik, Aaron’s, Ellingford Brothers, All West, and his own lumber yard. 

“It is important to consider these businesses and others when passing a definition for light rental services. You need to get more public input,” Hogman concluded.

Williams asked Boal how they should handle it and Boal said to make a motion to approve the Ordinance and then table it for more discussion at the next work session meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28. The ordinance was then approved on the first reading. 

The council then moved to the next item on the agenda which was Resolution 19-23, authorizing the execution of a street deck lease with Kate’s to lease two parking spaces to be used as a street deck. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Resolution 19-24, authorizing an application to obtain a bulletproof vest partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, was presented by Evanston Police Lt. Ken Pearson. Pearson said the federal government has changed the requirement for new vests from five years now to replacing them every four years.

“These vests are the ones we wear daily, and it is mandatory that we wear them,” Pearson said. “This grant would pay for half of the vests. We are requesting seven new vests for $8,062.90 and the Feds would pay $4,031.45. We have to apply every year and now have a four-year rotation policy.”

Resolution 19-24 was approved unanimously.

Jacobsen presented Resolution 19-25, which would approve and authorize the final plat for the Rimrock Drive addition.  

This addition is in the subdivision on Red Mountain and would be combining two lots into one. Jacobsen said planning and zoning sees no problems with the request and only had two recommendations for approval. Those recommendations were that a certified reproducible mylar copy of the final plat be provided to the city after the plat has been recorded and the second recommendation was that existing additional sewer and water services shall be capped per the direction of the Public Works Department. 

Resolution 19-25 was approved unanimously.

Finally, the only comment from department heads was from Dean Barker, Director of Planning and Zoning, who complimented DuWayne Jacobsen and the people who had worked so hard on Ordinance 19-05.

Earlier in the meeting, Councilman Mike Sellers complimented the Evanston Youth Club on their awards banquet and said how inspiring it was for him to see the positive results for the young people who attend the club.

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