County Council creates second planning commission
Mountain Green Planning Commission in initial stages
By DEANNE WINTERTON
Sept. 29, 2017–With four votes, the Morgan County Council made a historic move to create a separate planning commission to oversee the Mountain Green area.
Former Council Chairman Sid Creager placed the item on the agenda, saying there is a precedence set by Morgan’s neighbors, both Summit and Weber counties. Weber County has both a Western Weber Township Planning Commission and an Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission. Summit County has the Eastern Summit Planning District as well as the Snyderville Basin Planning District.
“A new planning commission for Mountain Green would be the perfect Segway to future government of Mountain Green,” Creager said. “A well trained, educated and functioning planning commission will be needed when that day comes,” although it could be as long as 20 years out, he said. “If we are proactive today, county government would benefit now and Mountain Green City could benefit later. It will help the future of the community.”
Creager said currently the seven planning commissioners spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with Mountain Green land use and zoning issues.
Currently, Morgan City is the only incorporated city in Morgan County. Therefore, the city has its own planning commission. The Morgan County Planning Commission handles land use and zoning issues for the remainder of the county. The county’s seven commissioners oversee each “area plan,” making sure “no area is being overlooked,” Creager said. However, the one planning commissioner responsible for overseeing Mountain Green’s area plan is tasked with issues spanning 65 percent of total growth.
Mountain Green has just 11 homes less than Morgan City, Creager said, making it so that 64 percent of the total population of the county lives in either Morgan City or unincorporated Mountain Green. Of the 3,666 residential dwelling units in the county, 1,170 are within Morgan City’s boundary and 1,159 are within the Mountain Green township, he said.
“It is safe to say that Mountain Green will surpass the incorporated area of the city by the end of this year,” Creager said, noting that in the last seven years, 65 percent of the county’s growth has occurred in Mountain Green. “Morgan County is no longer the best kept secret in Utah.”
In the last three years, the county planning commission has worked out issues related to the commercial use table, which necessitated weekly meetings. Most of that work relates to commercial zoning in Mountain Green, Councilwoman Tina Cannon said. “We have given them a substantial amount of work,” Cannon said. “That is a lot of time to focus on 1/7th of the geographical area of the county. That is a significant amount of time to put in in training and work over one area.”
If current trends continue, redistricting for voting purposes will result in two districts in Mountain Green in just over two year’s time, Creager said. It is also telling that the Morgan County School District is seeking a bond to build a new middle school in the Mountain Green area, he said.
Cannon noted that plans to develop as many as 4,500 units in Snowbasin could lead to traffic counts on Mountain Green roads increasing from 9,700 to 19,000. Councilman Austin Turner said that Powder Mountain is also planning an expansion. Since Ogden Canyon can’t be widened, a majority of vehicular traffic to and from Snowbasin and Powder Mountain will be through Mountain Green to access Trapper’s Loop.
Utah’s plans to bid on the 2026 Olympics, and potential Olympic venues located in the Ogden Valley, just “adds to the fun,” Councilman John Barber said.
“Ogden Canyon road would be maxed out,” Councilman Ned Mecham said.
With a separate planning commission for Mountain Green, the county’s planning commission can spend their time and efforts on the other six areas of the county, Creager said. “The burden that growth places on the county would be distributed on two bodies rather than just one,” he said. “It will provide more jurisdictional review of people more familiar with where they live, and more relevant information in the decision-making process.”
Creager recognizes the county’s trepidation as well as the two-year learning curve that faces Mountain Green’s new planning commissioners.
Mecham said the county already has a hard time finding people willing to serve on the planning commission. “We beg for people to be on the planning commission,” Mecham said. “A concern I have is I am not sure if you can get five, six or even seven from the Mountain Green area.”
“There is only one way to find out,” Cannon said.
“Give the citizens the opportunity to serve, the opportunity to fail,” Creager said. “If they have the desire to have input in the community, let them.”
Cannon made the motion to create the county’s second planning commission with the geographical area to mirror the Mountain Green Fire District’s. County staff was directed to implement the new commission as soon as possible.
Council members Barber, Daryl Ballantyne, and Robert Kilmer voted in favor. Councilman Roland Haslam was not present. Mecham and Turner voted against the motion.