Sunday, November 13, 2005

Referendum With a Twist

The Sandy gravel pit referendum was one interesting story. But here's one with a twist -- Bluffdale, as reported in the Trib on Friday.

In an attempt to head off a de-annexation move by a couple of large landowners, the Bluffdale mayor and council voted recently in favor of a settlement agreement that would permit substantial development, much to the dismay of neighbors. The neighbors formed a group, Bluffdale United, and filed to have the agreement vote submitted to a referendum vote, on a date to be determined.

In the meantime, elections took place last week, and some of the development opponents ran against the incumbants, and won. Is the referendum needed now, with the balance of power shifting on the council?

Thursday, 3rd District Court judge Anthony Quinn decided not to accept the settlement agreement, telling the landowners and the city to prepare for a hearing on the merits of the disconnection petition. "The issues in this case seem to be a meager basis for me to appoint myself the ultimate planning and zoning authority for 40 percent of Bluffdale," the judge said.

5 Comments:

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Rod said...

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At 7:33 PM, Blogger oussan said...

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At 9:02 PM, Blogger oussan said...

Is all of this governance by citizen initiative/referendae (see Sandy, Bluffdale) just a reflection of the fact that citizens and residents have such divergent interests and opinions that a few hand-picked representatives cannot do the job for which they were elected to the full satisfaction of their electorate?

Sandy City officials were all set to welcome Wal-Mart and company into their new home until citizens organized to express their opposition to the project (and for various reasons, such as aesthetics, community values, anti-Big-Box/Wal-Mart sentiment, etc.).

Sandy City thought it had reached a good compromise with a mixed-use development that would assure itself of a broad tax base, but must have been surprised by the resistance the project faced.

I'm not a big fan of citizens taking the reins away from those whom they've given the job to, but as this becomes an increasingly common phenomenom, I have to wonder if those officials have all the tools they need to really be in touch with what their city wants (or if residents simply have unrealistic expectations).

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Wilf said...

Oussan:

Yours is a really good comment. I have come to the conclusion that we need to do much better in our community outreach as we work on new plans and projects for our communities. Much of what we do now is formulaic and obligatory without actually being a real effort to involve the community.

And such efforts will, indeed, take more time and money, but in the end the results may be better supported by the community as a whole and result in less contention when individual developments come forward.

 
At 8:01 AM, Blogger ARCritic said...

Wilf, when you say formulatic I think you have hit the nail on the head. There are certain requirements in the law and many in planning and government see that as not the minimum requirements but the law and final word, that they cannot go beyond that. If the law on a rezone says that a sign of a certain size be placed in a particular spot then that is all that can be done, even if only 3 people will see that sign. If the law says that the legal notice is to be mailed out to those within so many feet of the property then ONLY those people CAN be notified.

I suggested that when something is coming up that it be published in the city newsletter and I was shocked by the response, "we can't do that, the law doesn't require it".

Yeah, but remember the law allows the people to put it on the ballot as a referenda if enough of them think the process didn't work, even if they are uncertain about how they feel about the final decision.

I think that is one of the things that happened in Sandy. It seemed that everyone got into the process so late that the city council was already convinced that this was the best option and voted that way. The people still needed to be convinced but there was no requirement to continue the process and no will to spend the money required to convince the people.

 

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