Ivins City Council approves amendment to land use plan following public comment

ST. GEORGE — The Ivins City Council opened the podium to residents during a public hearing about a proposed amendment to the land use plan that was recommended by the Planning Commission.

The land use plan amendment would change designated low-density residential and neighborhood commercial areas to a resort mixed use designation with low- and medium-density residential plots acting as a buffer.

The 104 acres in question belong to owner School Institutional Trust Lands Administration – or SITLA – and applicant Patrick Manning. The plan is to develop a project called the Black Desert Resort at Entrada.

Santa Clara City Council members previously voted to amend their land use plan for the project, which includes an 18-hole golf course, hotels, trails and housing located near Entrada. ENLAW is overseeing the 600-acre project, with 298 acres existing in Santa Clara and 302 acres in Ivins.

Ivins resident voiced their concerns during Thursday’s meeting, touching on increased traffic, poor land quality for proposed employee housing and obstruction of the natural beauty.

Manning addressed these concerns, promising the residents that if land for employee housing was difficult to develop or posed a threat to nearby homes, he would not follow through with that aspect of the project. He also indicated that traffic through residential neighborhoods would be for emergency personnel only, and the project should not result in increased traffic for neighboring communities.

City manager Dale Coulam presents information regarding a potential land use plan amendment before a public hearing, Ivins, Utah, Sept. 19, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Other residents shared their general disapproval with the city’s plan to allow a major commercial endeavor to set up shop in Ivins.

“I think the majority of the people that move to Ivins come out here because we wanted a nice, quiet residential area to live,” one resident said. “There’s not a lot of commerce here. If we wanted more excitement, more accessibility to things, if we wanted a resort in our backyard, there’s plenty of other places we could live in St. George or the greater St. George area.”

Mayor Chris Hart explained that Ivins is facing a difficult decision. The city must find alternative sources of revenue outside of growth, he said, adding that ignoring the limited area for expansion and making decisions to actively deny commercial entities is not in the best interest of the city or its residents from a long-term perspective.

Before Hart called for a motion, Councilman Dennis Mehr voiced concerns in alignment with those brought forth by residents.

The Ivins City Council addresses residents’ concerns following a public hearing, Ivins, Utah, Sept. 19, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

“We want a community where there’s quiet enjoyment, where families are attracted to come with open space, vistas, – we’re safe, we’re neighborly – all of those kinds of things,” Mehr said. “And I think we have that in our community, and it’s a wonderful place to live.”

Despite the comments, Mehr ultimately vote in favor of the amendment, saying he was choosing to have influence in the project over attempting to control the development of state-owned lands and losing any ability to impact future happenings.

With three of the council’s five members present, the Ivins City Council unanimously voted to approve the land use plan amendment. The council will be reviewing the Black Desert project more in future meetings.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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