Planning and zoning officials in South Salt Lake gave tentative approval Thursday night for Salt Lake County to continue business as usual at the Oxbow Jail by extending its permit to operate.
But only until a new county jail opens in 1999. And in the meantime, current activities at Oxbow, 3148 S. 1100 West, must meet the conditions of the permit to the letter - something South Salt Lake says the jail hasn't done. A final vote on the issue is expected June 4.`What (the commission) essentially said was `Hey, Mr. Jail, pay attention," city director of community and economic development Bruce Talbot said after a public hearing held Thursday. "You've done some things that were not quite right and we don't appreciate it."
The jail's special use permit, which allows it to operate within South Salt Lake boundaries, expired in January. But that's not the city's only beef.
An April letter from Talbot to Sheriff Aaron Kennard also put the county on notice that some conditions of its permit were not being met and that it appeared the county might be taking liberties with others.
Among other things, the county has failed to provide South Salt Lake with monthly reports of the inmates housed at the jail, failed to provide an annual report of overall jail operations, turned its parking lot into a storage facility for the sheriff's office fleet of cars and added several storage units to the jail grounds without obtaining building permits or seeking city approval.
Oxbow was built by the county in 1990 and was designed to house offenders charged with less serious crimes. Over the years, conditions of the original use permit for the jail have been amended to accommodate growth, to include other offenders and female prisoners. The current permit regulations were approved in 1993.
Jail administrator Chief Deputy Dean Carr doesn't deny allegations that the county may have shirked its responsibilities.
A former administrator stopped mailing monthly reports to South Salt Lake, feeling there was no interest on the part of the city, he said. And Carr himself didn't think parking department vehicles in the parking lot or building storage facilities was forbidden under the permit conditions.
As for the permit expiration, Carr said that was merely an oversight.
"That's my error. I failed to put (the paperwork) in the appropriate tickler file," said Carr. "I stand ready to do what's necessary to get into compliance."
That includes opening up past records, Carr said.
"In fact, we invite inspection," he said. "It's all a matter of public record."
By and large, the jail has been a good neighbor and no one in South Salt Lake is "out to close Oxbow," Talbot said, acknowledging that the city reaps many benefits, such as inmate labor, from having the jail within the city limits.
"But we do have some issues and like any neighbor, perhaps they do some things we might not like, it's that way even with my own neighbors," Talbot said. "We simply want to make sure sure they continue to be good neighbors."