Minutes – 09.01.2021 Work Session

COUNTY OF SEVIER 

CITY OF RICHFIELD

                                                                                    At the Planning Commission

                                                                                    In and For Said City

                                                                                    Work Session held

                                                                                    September 1, 2021, 1:00 p.m.

Minutes of the Richfield City Planning Commission work session held on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., Vice-Chairman Greg Bean, presiding.

1.         Roll Call

2.         Work Session

            A.         Discussion with City Attorney, Eric Johnson, concerning Zoning Code questions

                        including regulations on short-term rental properties, internal accessory dwelling

                        units, and overlay zones. 

3.         Adjournment

1.      Roll Call.  Roll call was answered by Greg Bean, Blaine Breinholt, Lisa White, and Josh Peterson.  Kendrick Thomas, Susan Jensen, and Wes Kirschner were excused. 

City Staff Present:   City Manager Michele Jolley and Deputy City Recorder Michelle Curtis.  City attorney Eric Johnson was present via Zoom. 

2.      Work Session.

         Commission members had questions concerning regulations that could be imposed upon short-term rental properties.  They would like to be able to limit short-term rental properties to two units per household so that there can’t be an owner who buys up all of the houses in town to use as short-term rentals. 

Attorney Johnson said the Commission needs to be able to show some objective basis as to why owning two is alright, but owning three is not.  Otherwise, if challenged, a judge would say it was arbitrary and capricious in picking that number out of the air.  The Commission needs to find some sort of study to base that number on.  The Commission needs to find an external objective basis for that.  A study would contain the rationale for limiting the number.   

The Commission would also like to divide the City into three areas and allow  a cap of 5% short-term rentals per area.  Attorney Johnson said this would require the same type of evidence as discussed above.  There would need to be something to show that too many short-term rentals clustered in an area creates a detriment. 

Commissioners wanted to know if this has to be a formal study or can it be talking with other communities and using their experiences as the “study”.  Attorney Johnson said the City could undertake its own study, gather information, and then base their decision on that.  A form would need to be created showing what the inquiry would be and then document the responses.  He believes enough evidence would consist of contact with a dozen or more towns so that the study would have credibility to a judge.   A judge is going to look at it and say that the City is putting restrictions on what a person can do with their personal property and so there better be a good reason to restrict and put limits on the personal property.

Greg Bean said the City recently created a new high-density zone of 24 units per acre.  As soon as that zone was created, immediately there were requests for hundreds of units located basically in the same part of town.  He wonders if the City can do something to limit the number of high-density developments that are granted in any particular part of the City?  Would this require a study as well? 

Attorney Johnson said there should already be pre-existing studies available that could be used.  There would be studies about slums and how high density has been crowded together and the socio-economic problems that happen.  He thinks that would show some thresholds that could be relied on to set standards for Richfield. 

Regarding the suggested changes to Zoning Code regarding internal accessory dwelling units, he has compared it to the new changes in State law.  He feels the proposal is acceptable under the modifications of the State law.  An IADU is different from an STR.   

Michele Jolley said the purpose of an IADU, according to the legislature, was to help with the housing shortage.  If the IADU were allowed to be used as an STR, then it takes away from long-term rentals space. 

The Commission asked about overlay zones.  Greg Bean explained that the Commission had a request for the use of an old LDS church.  The owner would like to use it as a community center for weddings, receptions, game center, dance lessons.  A church is allowed in residential zones, but these uses are not allowed separately from a church.  There was a suggestion that this could be addressed with an overlay zone in order to allow certain uses.    

Attorney Johnson said overlay zones tend to promote questions and concerns and create challenges in zoning.  A trigger point for an overlay needs to be identified and then, when applicable, the overlay can be used for a portion of the zone. 

Attorney Johnson said the question is what makes a church a church and is the conducting of a wedding sufficient to retain the quality of a church even if that isn’t its exclusive use.  Churches do allow their halls to be used for various events in the community so perhaps, even though the primary use isn’t a church, there may be enough religious use there that it might be considered a type of a church.     

Attorney Johnson left the meeting.

Concerning STRs, Attorney Johnson had suggested undertaking a study of at least a dozen communities in order to substantiate why 5% is a good number to limit STRs to and have justification for it.  Commissioners have already talked with seven communities:   La Verkin, Panguitch, Moab, Boulder, Heber City, Hurricane, and Kanab.  They have collected the requirements those towns have, additional comments, lessons learned, and what happened with their property values. 

Lisa White suggests checking with the Ombudsman to see if he has any justification, studies, anything that could be added.  The Commission should then document everything the Commission has talked about and anything the Ombudsman can give us, pointing out that the State Legislature feels like housing affordability and property value is an important enough issue to have new legislation concerning internal accessory dwelling units.

Some of the communities that were looked at had percentages established.  La Verkin had 7.5%.  They changed it from 10% to 7.5%.  They can have 3 STRS per 1000 residents and spaced further than 300 feet away from another one.  Greg Bean suggests contacting those cities again and ask them what their criteria was based on.   

Josh Peterson commented that if the City puts out a short-term rental study, then other cities will use it.  It needs to be done with correct information. 

Josh Peterson said the General Plan identifies zones where high density will be allowed.  Currently these are coming in by request, and so the Commission has the ability to say no to zone changes. 

Greg Bean will do the same for the high-density zones and see if we can’t establish some order.  A public hearing will be held for the IADU’s on September 13, 2021. 

Josh Peterson wondered if the Six County AOG can assist with a study for STRs. 

As far as the General Plan, Lisa White said she had several suggested changes for the General Plan.  She went over some of those suggestions.  The General Plan discussion is on the agenda for this evening’s regular Planning Commission meeting.   

3.         Adjournment.   The meeting adjourned at 1:50 p.m. 

PASSED AND APPROVED ON THE 6TH day of October, 2021. 

/s/ Michelle Curtis

       Deputy City Recorder