City Council Vote, September 23, 2009

Tonight the City Council voted unanimously to remove the section of the Mill Creek Trail between 500 East and 700 East from the City’s new General Plan!

4. CITY COUNCIL COMMENTS.

Council Member Marshall said for those who are here for the Millcreek Trail issue, it has been decided that the section from 700 East to 500 East will be dropped out of that plan. Anything that does transpire will begin at Fitts Park and to west.

Council Member Brusch welcomed those in attendance. She congratulated the two primary election winners.

Council Member Fitts remarked that it’s great to have everyone here tonight. It’s good to have issues, if we’re on the same side or not, that engage people in the community. It’s been great to have dialog with people about things important to them in their community. It’s helpful information for the Council who do our best to make decisions that make the City a better place. We were more blindsided by the information than you were, as far as how that appeared in the General Plan. It’s great to work on compromises and solutions that helps us do things that are beneficial and not intrusive in ways that make people uncomfortable and not a welcome part of the community. Foremost in most of our decisions is how do we get people engaged in the community that care about the community in a way that allows us to progress and make it a better community.

He thinks we are at the end of our troubles with the General Plan. It has been a great opportunity to have some discussion about things that would make the community better. If we leave it alone now, we’ve wasted time and effort and we don’t have the ability to progress. We hope you find the time to continue to participate with us. We need citizen involvement to make these things happen. It’s helpful to have contact from you to us to find out what we can do to benefit you.

Council Member Rutter thanked all of those who have run for office. Good people have taken time, effort and funds to run. With regards to the Millcreek issue, he has talked with citizens who live in the Millcreek area and listened to their input. He thanked the people for being interested. We need citizen input all the time to help us get better information and be prepared to move forward the business of this City in a more positive way.

At Council Member Weaver’s suggestion, because there are many citizens here tonight on the Millcreek matter, the Council went into Unfinished Council Business to discuss this matter.

ACTION ITEMS

UNFINISHED COUNCIL BUSINESS

2. DISCUSSION TO CONSIDER ADOPTION OF A MODIFICATION TO THE ENTIRE GENERAL PLAN AND TO CONSIDER ADOPTION OF A MODERATE INCOME HOUSING PLAN FOR THE CITY. This item does not directly discuss the Millcreek issue. There has been no question as to the sentiment of the residents. What has been shared with commendation for participating and getting involved in something that matters to you is crucial. He showed the preliminary study prepared regarding the feasibility at what may or may not ever transpire.

Council Member Weaver made a motion that the Millcreek Greenway be removed from the General Plan, minimally from 700 East to 500 East, but given the fact that so much of the property is privately held throughout its entire length, that we currently remove that from the Plan.

MOTION: John Weaver

SECOND: Marilyn Brusch

Larry Gardner asked if Council Member Weaver meant “entirely.” You don’t even want to look at the Millcreek Trail?

Council Member Weaver said the one of the reasons he made the motion is: He was led to believe we owned more significant stretches along that proposed corridor than we actually do. We have some people who have volunteered to deed portions of that to the City – and that’s wonderful. But to think there’s any intent on the part of this Council to exercise eminent domain for recreational purposes is wrong.

Mr. Gardner said the Council could not prohibit that.

Council Member Weaver noted that there have been some misunderstandings in the community. This is not a purpose that rises to that level. It’s not something that could be entertained and because cities live longer than people do, long-term plans can be put into effect in the normal cycle of life. As properties come up for sale, if the City is interested they can explore the option, and over time could piece together something if that’s in the best interest of the City.

City Attorney, David Carlson, suggested it’s not accurate to say most of it is through private property. It’s the converse of that. There’s actually a feasibility study being done now by a planning firm, under the direction of the County and the City. The truth is there’s no intent of the City to exercise eminent domain for the acquisition of property. There are very few areas in the other parts of the trail, other than this area, where the City would have to acquire any property. The City wouldn’t need to acquire property in this area, but we’ve always known it would be sensitive because the people who surround those flood retention ponds, that are owned by the City and County, have treated that as their own private reserve back there. In the other areas, there aren’t those problems. As we’ve indicated in some of the memos to the Council, the section from the Jordan River to the 3300 South TRAX station, we have all the right of way committed that we need. That’s also integral to the City’s plan to improve the interchange at 3300 South/I-15. The Trail helps us there to get the funding we need to improve that. Before you throw the baby out with the bath water, if you want to remove this portion between 500 and 700 East, that’s not a problem. That’s been the only concern that’s been expressed. A lot of property owners are welcoming.

Council Member Weaver said there were several reasons for the proposal, and he has mentioned one of them. There seems to be some ambiguity on the facts here. The preliminary report we received color coded City and County owned property versus private property. What’s in this report says the majority is private property.

Mr. Gardner said it is a study done by John Hedman. We have more accurate information.

Council Member Weaver said he will modify the motion to exclude the area from 500 to 700 East, using Fitts Park as a potential trailhead, and continue to explore options from there.

Mr. Carlson said the Council will have a presentation on the feasibility that’s near completion now. I think you’ll be in a better position to decide whether that’s a project the City wants to pursue, or not.

Council Member Brusch said there has been some concern between 200 East and State Street – the Millstream Trailer Court.

Mr. Carlson said the City has a verbal agreement with the owners of the Millstream Trailer Court to donate the property for the Trail. They’re interested in redeveloping that. In conversations with them, they’ve given us a verbal commitment. Most of the property between State Street and 200 East is not owned by the Trailer Park; it’s owned by Don Christensen, who owns the Donna Manor Apartments next door. He recently donated the Trail right-of-way to the City. It was about a $500,000 gift of property he gave to the City for building the Trail through there. That information was in the memo given to the Council about two weeks ago. There’s only about 100 feet owned by the Trailer Park of the actual right-of-way along the Creek. We have a verbal agreement with the owners of that that as they redevelop the Trailer Park, which they’re pursuing now, they will also donate their property for purposes of the Trail.

The City has also had conversation with property owners between Main and State Streets. That’s one of the few areas that’s privately owned. In all of the conversations we’ve had to date, the owners have been positive and supportive of the concept of trails. Before the Council jumps to conclusions, they need to get more information.

Council Member Weaver said that when the Council gets more information that we be notified of the accuracy or inaccuracy of the information we’re given.

Mr. Carlson remarked that in the memo he said that this was an early study that was done and that there’s a more comprehensive and detailed study under way now. In the study going on now, there’s a study of the property rights.

Council Member Weaver said the second reason is that given the opportunity that the City has currently, and the limited resources that we have, a full-scale investment into this particular potential project doesn’t seem prudent at the moment. He suggests there are bigger fish to fry in terms of recreational space. He reiterates the motion:

Council Member Weaver moved that the Council remove the section from 700 East to 500 East in the General Plan for the proposed Millcreek Trail.

MOTION: John Weaver

SECOND: Marilyn Brusch

Council Member Marshall asked for a point of personal privilege. He does not agree with one portion of the document. Whoever wrote the document was presumptuous by saying they had spoken to the residents along that trail in doing the report. He’s talked to a lot of the residents here tonight. None of them has ever been talked to about the plans for the Trail.

Mr. Gardner said land use planning is difficult because it carries a lot of emotion. No one wants to be told what’s going to happen to their property. What may happen with the property causes more speculation and sometimes paranoia. There’s no way we could jump into constructing this right now. Mr. Gardner said this is a 30-year deal. The Jordan River Parkway began in the early 1970’s the same way. If we don’t begin somewhere with some planning, we’ll never get anywhere.

Council Member Fitts said there are parties who are interested in having that Trail be a part of their property, whether 200 or 300 East. It’s not wrong to prohibit that from moving forward particularly when such generous donations have been made.

The time for starting the Public Hearing is past. Council Member Weaver returned to NO ACTION COMMENTS before going to the Public Hearing.

NO ACTION COMMENTS

5. CITIZEN COMMENTS/QUESTIONS.

Kimarie Overall, 3165 South 500 East. She has gone over the Granite proposal by Psomas. She appreciates that on the website. She thinks there are a lot of good things in it, but Psomas suggested that the auto mechanics building should be taken out and a parking lot put in. She would like to suggest that it becomes a sustainable living center where there can be demonstration and training for solar, water conservation, living roofs, and green houses so that people can be trained in jobs that will be needed in the 21st Century and so that South Salt Lake can demonstrate that we’re on target as far as what’s needed ecologically.

George Mierisch, 3165 South 500 East. He thanked the Council for the decision rendered. He would not have minded if they had excluded the entire plan from the General Plan.

Steve Norr, 3162 Park Court. He appreciates the Council listening to citizens. They have a Millcreek Pond Action Committee and will meet on Saturday. They will talk about Neighborhood Watch and clean-up issues that they have. They would like to be invited to any future meetings. He asks City employees to do a better job in sharing with the citizens.

David Carlson said there has been no effort on the part of the City to keep anything confidential. The study referred to tonight is a thesis of a graduate student at the U of U. It is not something the City commissioned. He did the study. He had some discussions with the City. We told him it was a concept that was being discussed by the City and the County that had identified the potential for a possible recreation corridor along Millcreek. The feasibility study being done now is not completed. That’s the one the City and County have partnered on. That will be a more thorough analysis of the feasibility of doing the recreation trail. Once that has been completed, there will be public meetings and that will be an important part. There will be a public process. There will be citizen committees formed to get feedback. All of that will be published. As of now the City and County don’t have anything to make public. We have not been hiding anything.

Lewis Galway, 3200 South 600 East. He thanked the Council for eliminating that particular part. He finds the ponds to be heaven. He has made phone calls to the City. He wants to know how the property got taken from the homeowners through redevelopment. He has not received a return phone call as to how that occurred some 20 years ago. He wonders if the residents could ever get the property back.

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