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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Officials watch legislative bills that could impact city

Mar 28, 2022 09:53PM ● By Cassie Goff

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Throughout the 2022 Utah State Legislative General Session, the City of Cottonwood Heights kept a close eye on a handful of bills that could potentially have huge impacts on the city. City lobbyists Greg Curtis, Brian Allen and Chantel Nate provided weekly reports to the Cottonwood Heights City Council throughout the months of January and February.  

One of the big pushes Curtis observed was regarding how the state’s budget was organized. “They are really trying to push back listing out individual projects. Instead, they are trying to put monies into buckets to send to committees.”

For example, they would establish “buckets” for things like “Trail Money” and “Sewer and Water Projects.” Then, committees overseeing those monies would establish an application and implementation process. For transportation, “they don’t have a bucket—it’s just UDOT,” Curtis said.

“The session started out kind of slow,” Allen said. “But we were inundated with a lot of bills when the bill filing deadline hit.”

Cottonwood Heights leadership was particularly concerned with the potential impacts of HB 151 Retail Facility Incentive Payment Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Mike Schultz and Sen. Evan Vickers.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Weichers mentioned his concerns over the potential impacts to moderate income housing. City Manager Tim Tingey’s concern was in regard to “not allowing incentives for environmental impacts for redevelopment projects.”

The second substitute of HB 151 was passed on March 4, and as of publication, was sitting with the governor.

Cottonwood Heights City Councilmember Shawn Newell asked about HB 95 Landscaping Requirements, sponsored by Rep. Raymond Ward. The bill would prohibit government entities from implementing landscaping requirements.

“We need to understand what’s necessary so we don’t have folks just do whatever they want,” Newell said.

Tingey mentioned how much of the landscaping language needed to be clarified especially in relation to “turf.” The bill only defined “lawn” or “turf” as nonagricultural land planted in closely mowed or managed grasses. It did mention that “lawn” or “turf” did not include golf courses, parks, athletic fields, sod farms or stormwater retention basins.

One concern stemming from this bill would be how large housing areas incorporate recreational areas like lawns or plazas. Luckily, the third substitute of the bill mentioned an exclusion of “shared recreational or common area in a multifamily housing development of 5 acres or greater.”

The third substitute of HB 95 was not passed.

A few bills were proposed regarding public meetings for governmental entities: HB 22 Open and Public Meetings Act Modifications, sponsored by Rep. Douglas Welton and Sen. Daniel Thatcher; HB 285 Open and Public Meetings Act Violations, sponsored by Rep. Phil Lyman; and HB 306 Planning Commission Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Steve Waldrip and Sen. David Buxton.

“Initially, there would be a requirement for public comment to be offered in every meeting,” Allen said. “Of course, there is an exception for legislative meetings.”

Curtis mentioned a conversation he had with several legislators over this bill. “You might be setting yourself up for some really long and scary meetings.”

The Utah League of Cities and Towns worked heavily to make changes throughout the session and requirements for work session meetings, advisory-type meetings, and Planning Commission meetings were pulled out.

HB 285 was not passed. HB 22 was passed and signed by the governor March 15.

City Councilmember Doug Petersen asked if the city lobbyists had seen any bills regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

“There is no legislation on ADUs this year. Short-term rentals are the focus, but there’s not a lot of movement on those,” Allen said.

Tingey shared that Cottonwood Heights does have legal short-term rentals within the city boundaries. “We aren’t opposed to those but we are opposed to the illegal ones that impact housing.”

In addition, it was noted that The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute is running a study looking at the potential impacts of overpopulation and housing regulations.

During this year’s session, a few bills reappeared from last year addressing billboards. The bills initiated discussions but were ultimately dropped.

“They are putting Salt Lake City on notice to let them know they are watching,” Allen said.

In addition, a number of law enforcement bills were proposed this year including HB 260 Law Enforcement Recording Release Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Mark Wheatley and Sen. Todd Weiler and HB 259 Law Enforcement Use of Unmanned Aircraft, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Wilcox and Sen. Curtis Bramble.

“I’ve been working with (Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo) on enforcement bills. We are tracking the ones we need to right now,” Tingey said.

Cottonwood Heights City leadership were also invested in watching the updates on HB 282 Water Wise Landscaping Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Wilcox and Sen. Michael McKell; HB 305 Natural Resources Revisions, sponsored by Rep. Joel Ferry and Sen. McKell; HB 303 Local Land Use Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Val Peterson and Sen. Bramble; and SB 227 Consumer Privacy Act, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Cullimore and Rep. Brady Brammer.

The General Legislative Session concluded March 4.