Appeal Authority Officer considered for land use disputes

Image: Draft of Appeal Authority ordinance

Draft of Appeal Authority ordinance (Smithfield City)

Who can appeal a decision by the city? The consensus of the city council and those attending last Wednesday’s council meeting was that only a third party, independent of the city, could fairly listen to appeals over city decisions. The council is considering doing away with the Board of Adjustment and replacing it with an Appeal Authority Officer. This officer would act kind of like a judge over land use disputes when a resident wants to appeal a decision made by a city staffer or committee.

Initially during the public hearing there was some confusion over the proposed changes. Was the appeal officer an existing staff member or was it someone outside city hall? City Manager Jim Gass said the main purpose of the ordinance is to keep everything completely separate. The appeal officer won’t be an employee of the city.

Hyrum, Nibley, North Logan have switched to an appeal officer. In each case they contracted with an attorney who was familiar with the laws they would be asked to make a judgement on. If a city decision does come up for appeal the officer would not consult with the city over the matter. Both the complainant and the city would present their arguments to the officer independently. The Appeal Authority Office would be looking over the problem with fresh eyes and without prejudice.

Councilman Brent Buttars pointed out that maintaining the Board of Adjustment is challenging. It’s difficult to find three to five people who are willing to serve and keep up with the laws in question when they are only called upon to make a decision every year or two.

A few modifications were recommended to the ordinance and it is expected to be on the agenda at the next city council meeting.

Other business

  • Barbara Gutke received plat approval for more homes in the Hunter Meadows Subdivision.
  • The council updated the business license ordinance to be more inline with actual city practices. Companies doing business in Smithfield must be licensed in a city or county municipality. They must also be licensed with the State if required by law. They are no longer required to register with Smithfield if they already have a license.
  • Names were read and considered for appointing to the Historical Society general board.
  • The Smithfield Tree Committee is proposing a plan to sell and plant memorial trees. The idea is to complement the memorial park benches that were recently installed. The memorial tree program is for any individual or group to sponsor a tree and dedicate it to an individual or organization. There is a flat price for the trees. The city would purchase and plant the trees. The sponsors can assist in planting if they wish. The sponsor will buy the plaque.
  • The old city offices will not be available to rent.