Helper city officials adopt general plan
Members of the Helper council adopted a general plan for the city last Thursday.
State law requires that each municipality have a general plan outlining the long-range plan for development.
The statute dictates that the plan should outline the present and future needs of the municipality as well as plans related to the growth and development of all or part of the land within the municipality.
Mayor Joe Bonacci indicated that the need for the general plan arose when Utah Department of Transportation officials began plans to improve the junction of Helper's Main Street and U.S. Highway 6.
The mayor explained that officials looked for a general or master plan for the city.
By state statute, one of the purposes of the plan is to allow other government agencies, such as counties, school districts and state and federal departments, to understand the long-term plans of the city.
With a general plan in place, other entities are able to understand how the agencies' plans may best fit into the general plans for the city.
A general plan cannot add unreasonable requirements to development by private or public entities.
However, it can serve as a starting point for agencies like UDOT when the entities begin planning for additions like the proposed interchange.
Planning and zoning officials explained that the plan is the result of extensive review.
City planners obtained numerous plans from other cities and reviewed them, taking portions pertinent to Helper from other municipalities.
In addition, the planning commission had distributed a questionnaire to city residents more than a year ago, asking residents what plans and visions they have for Helper.
Councilmember Chuck Buchanan said he remembered working with the commission at that time and recalled that the return rate on the questionnaires was above 60 percent.
Members of the planning commission indicated that the results of the survey had been incorporated into the general plan.
They reiterated that the plan had been scrutinized by many and conveyed the opinion of the planning commission that the general plan accurately demonstrated a vision of Helper's future.
Mayor-elect Mike Dalpiaz questioned the timing of the decision by the council, explaining that he had not been notified of the plan and asked for more time to review the guidelines before the council made the city's decision.
Bonacci explained that the city had met its legal obligations and had advertised to the public regarding the matter.
Advertisements on Nov. 24 and Nov. 29 in the Sun Advocate stated that the plan would be available for review at the city recorder's office.
Dalpiaz told the council that he did not receive the local paper and was not aware that the plan was available for review.
Bonacci noted that it was unfortunate that the mayor-elect was not aware of the vote and left the matter before the council.
The general plan should be reviewed approximately every five years. That time frame raised some concern by Dalpiaz, who questioned whether the city could amend the plan more often than indicated.
The council agreed that the plan could be amended at any time. Councilmember Bob Farrell expressed his view that the plan was a good starting point for the city's long-term planning efforts and suggested that the council approve it with the understanding that it could be updated as necessary.
Noting the concerns raised by Dalpiaz and the ability to adjust the plan as necessary to match the needs and desires of city residents, the council approved the plan.
In unrelated matters, the council tabled multiple agenda items. One agenda item, the review and discussion of an agreement with the Price River Water Improvement District, was tabled.
Another item relates to a community development block grant the city received for the Rio Theater. The grant required that the city hire three full time employees; however, the city indicated in August that it does not plan to hire additional personnel for the theater.
Bonacci indicated that negotiations are continuing regarding the repayment of the loan. Dalpiaz added that he has been involved in some of those discussions and was aware of the situation.
Although the matter was tabled, if negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached before Dec. 31, the city may need to call a special council meeting to address the issue.