Helper explores abandoning alleys
The Helper council met last Thursday and officials considered a number of items concerning city business, including the idea of abandoning alleyways to private landowners.
The matter is a subject the council members have been working on for quite some time. The officials had asked city attorney Gene Strate to review the situation and tell them what Helper legally had comply with to do so.
"We have the final list of the legal descriptions of the alleyways," Strate told the council. "Now we need to inform the public about your intentions. We must publish a notice of intention in a general circulation newspaper in town once a week for four weeks. I would like to have us do that and set a date of Sept. 27 for a public hearing on this matter."
According to Strate the city must also make sure easements for utilities on these pieces of property are also kept intact.
The council voted to go ahead and publish the notice of intent and to hold the public hearing on the suggested date.
In another action the council looked at the condemnation of three particularly troublesome properties within Helper's city limits because of nuisance violations.
"These properties have been a mess and a health threat for a long time," pointed out Mayor Mike Dalpiaz. "One property has been a problem for the city for over 10 years."
The council discussed the various properties and the situations on each one. One of the properties has been under a court order concerning the clean up and repair for some time.
"We have a procedure for this in city ordinances," Strate told the council. "We need to follow our own procedure."
That procedure includes having the board of health inspect the properties and to serve notices to the individual owners. Then the private owner has 10 days to correct the problems. The private owner can also request an audience with the council to discuss the situation before the city does anything.
Finally, if something isn't done the city can go in and clean up the situation and then officials have 20 days to inform the owner of what they owe for doing that.
"The council needs to be aware that the cost of the cleanup on a couple of these could be quite expensive," said Strate. "Whether we could get the costs incurred back is uncertain."
There were a couple of discussions about the problems on the properties.
"The bottom line is that these properties are a fire and health hazard and something needs to be done," said Councilman Richard Sherman.
There was more discussion about the possibility of the city just going in and taking care of the problem rather than having to jump through all the legal hoops.
But Councilman Jim Robinson cautioned the council on this type of action.
"We had a walk through with some officials on a situation like this a few years ago and afterward the lady who owned the property claimed some valuable stuff was missing from the place afterwards," said Robinson. "Just think what they would claim in a cleanup without following the procedures."
The council approved taking action through the ordinance toward getting the properties cleaned up, beginning with a health department inspection.
Addressing other agenda items last Thursday, Helper officials:
Discussed the revamping of the business license fees for the city.
Attorney Strate had completed some of the preliminary work in connection with the matter. The council members added to and adjusted the information.
In general, it appears that the business license fees in Helper city will double when the new schedule is approved by the officials.
"People have to realize how old this fee schedule is," said Robinson. "It was put into effect many years ago.'
In a related matter, the idea of how to handle temporary business licenses was also discussed when Jona Skerl, the city recorder, brought up a request from a woodworker to bring in items to sell in a store parking lot for 30 days.
The question arose as to what a temporary license is and how it should be approved.
"Under ordinance a temporary business license is one that is to be used for less than six months," Strate told the council.
Some discussion resulted concerning granting the request, including whether the council should make all decisions regarding the issuance of temporary licenses or whether the matter should be left to the city recorder.
"The city council needs to review all business licenses, even those that are just for a day," advised Strate. "People who want these types of licenses need to apply in advance so they can be looked at during regular city council meetings.'
Most of the council was in agreement with this concept, but the concern of keeping people from doing business because of red tape concerned everyone.
"We certainly don't want to discourage people from operating in Helper," indicated Robinson. "But we must know what people are doing to control zoning and other ordinances."
The council agreed and voted that the Helper officials must approve every business license during the city's regular public meetings.
The officials approved the amending of ordinance 98-3 with ordinance 2001-2.
This ordinance has to do with curb and gutter installation on city streets.
The council approved a request from the museum to apply for a grant to set up a website for the museum. The grant they are applying for is for $3000.
The officials approved the purchase of a new lawnmower for the city at a cost of $2,300.
In reports from various city department heads, the following information was introduced at the meeting.
Attorneys for the man injured earlier this month on a diving board at the Helper swimming pool have requested copies of the accident/ police report, according to the city attorney.
Chief George Zamantakis revealed that the state has awarded some grant money to be used during the period of Aug. 27 through Sep. 3 for increased patrols by the city police during the Labor Day weekend.
That means, according to Zamantakis, a Helper officer will be available for the town and one for the highway.
The grant will pay the overtime that needs to be expended for the increased presence.
Councilman Kirk Mascaro discussed the rock concert/battle of the bands show that was recently presented at the civic auditorium.
Apparently, the program had originally been scheduled at College of Eastern Utah's Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center, but a reservation glitch kept that from happening, so Spangler allowed the show to be staged in the Helper auditorium.
The concert was presented as a fundraising benefit event for the Rio Theatre construction project.
Unfortunately, at least one fight broke out during the concert and there was some vandalism to rest rooms. Approximately $100 in damage was incurred in connection with the incident.
The city will be sending a letter to the concert's organizers about the situation.