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Summit County Council Continues To Follow The State Legislature

Summit County Council members, in their regular meeting Wednesday, are continuing to follow bills at the State Legislature. Among those, they’re concerned with a proposal from one of the legislators who represent Summit County.

House Bill 288, sponsored by Rep. Logan Wilde from Morgan County, would limit the ability of counties to regulate gravel pits.

That’s one of the topics for the county council, which meets at the Coalville Courthouse and gets a legislative briefing at around 4:30 pm.

County manager Tom Fisher said they’re always concerned about legislation that would limit their ability to regulate land uses. Utah Association of Cities is working on the bill.

“They’re working with him to see if we can come up with some type of one-year look at that in a different form so we can see what the real issue is,” Fisher said.

KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher asked that if any gravel pit had been approved would it be vested, meaning the county could no longer regulate it?

“Yeah,” Fisher replied. “Which is problematic because what if an operation expands? Is that vested as well? Right now, the way the bill reads it looks like we would not have any control once a gravel pit is in operation and approved.”

Fisher did not recall just how many pits and quarries they have in the county.

“I do remember just a couple of years ago we went through the process of actually denying a pit from opening,” Fisher explained. “They withdrew their application as they were going through the process. There are several and you know we’re a mountain community and there’s always going to be that potential. Those are disturbing uses no matter where they’re at but you want to be able to zone around those.”

The county is also interested in HB 305, which would set up an account at the state level for post-disaster recovery. The state would give out grants from the account to counties or cities.

“It would be outside of the capital funded, It would be outside any of the current procedures or funds that exist to take care of the results of wildfire,” Fisher continued. “We participate in a fund right now that helps communities deal with those impacts. I think probably the issues of fire last year and the resultant mud slides, and things like that, rock slides that happened probably are prompting some of these looks at how the state can assist when these things happen. There’s a big effect on local government.”

Fisher said the money available in the account would be fairly small, in the millions.

The staff report said the Utah Association of Counties is trying to amend the bill so that accounts can be set up by counties, without the restrictions currently in the bill.

Fisher said the county, in the past, had to budget a lot more funding for emergencies.

“Well if you go back to before our current method of getting help from the state on fires, we were 100% responsible for those,” Fisher said. “We used to budget monies into reserve funds for that very purpose.  Since this new method we haven’t had to do that to the same level. We still keep some money in fund balance for emergencies like fire, flood, earthquake that type of thing but not as much as we used to.”

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