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South Valley Journal

Herriman City Council holds off on voting to amend city’s general plan

Aug 30, 2017 04:55PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Draft one of an amendment, brought before Herriman city council on Aug. 9, that would change the general plan for the city. (Herriman City)

By Lexi Peery | [email protected]

Members of the Herriman city council debated about redrafting the city’s general plan, which was adopted in 2013, late into the night during their Aug. 9 business meeting. 

Council members have discussed redrafting certain aspects of this plan for months , and Mayor Carmen Freeman pushed to vote on key areas that night. However, other council members said they weren’t ready to make important amendment decisions without deliberating it further among themselves and fellow residents.

The two drafts brought before the council by City Planner Bryn McCarty during the Aug. 9 meetings were new to the council — with slight adjustments made regarding population density and land use to the key areas council members are looking to change.

“To adopt a general plan without seeing it before tonight [is rushing things too much],” said Councilwoman Coralee Moser. “There’s a lot of public feedback; more than 200 residents have reached out about this issue, and I don’t know if everyone has reviewed that feedback yet.”

During the public hearing section of the discussion, a few residents stood up to state their desire to give the redrafting of the general plan more time. Prior to the meeting on Aug. 9, several other outreach efforts were conducted by city leaders to hear feedback from residents regarding the changes the council were looking to make.

Herriman resident Lisa Brown said she was frustrated because full answers weren’t given to residents regarding the changes that were to be made to the general plan at an open house held prior to the city council meeting. She advised the council to be careful and take their time when amending the general plan.

“The purpose is to further preserve community identity—review the specific purposes behind the general plan so we aren’t cutting and pasting within the document,” Brown said. “Take a little more time in discussion and don’t vote on this tonight.”

One problem Councilwomen Martin saw with conversations about the current drafts is that what high-density, medium-density and low-density specifically mean isn’t clearly defined. Martin was also in favor of continuing discussion at a later date, as long as residents and council members don’t downplay the fact that city officials have worked hard to reach out to residents and get their input.

“Let’s do this in a deliberative and collaborative manner,” Martin said. “But let’s not denigrate the many hours that have gone into this.”

Councilmembers mentioned throughout the meeting that they were receiving messages and emails from concerned Herriman residents who were watching the live stream of the meeting at home. The live-time feedback from residents encouraged some on the council to advocate continuing discussion for another meeting. 

Councilmember Jared Henderson said residents hadn’t heard about the drafts brought forward to the meeting, and that it wasn’t fair to vote on it without discussing more among city officials, developers and residents.

“Residents were told different things; they had different expectations,” Henderson said.

Toward the end of the meeting, as the council voted 4-1 to continue discussion of the amendment on a later date, Councilmember Craig Tischner spoke up saying that debating and reviewing things is part of government. He said he has respect for what happened during the meeting — discussing important items is part of the governmental process.

“We have to hash things out and do it in public,” Tischner said. “I think we are doing our due diligence reaching out to the residents so we can make the best decision for the city.”

However, Freeman spoke up saying that though he agrees public outreach is important when the council makes decisions, he said city officials have already done that to the best of its ability. He said they’ve already had two open houses and numerous public hearings about the issue.

“I wonder to what extent do we keep doing public outreach?” Freeman said after firmly standing by his conviction to vote on the issue that night. “I appreciate it, and I’m supportive of it, but we’ve gone above and beyond to get this information out. And now we are just going to continue to ride the wave, and I just can’t support that.”