PLEASANT GROVE Pleasant Grove residents say they would have liked more input into a decision by the city to allow a large irrigation pond to be built in a new park at about 900 West and 3300 North.
The City Council voted 4-1 last week to amend an ordinance that will allow the permitted construction of the pond and possibly others like it in the future.
Those living near the park have several concerns, including sanitation issues and fear of increased mosquitos. Many also worry about safety risks from having a large body of water near their homes.
But by far, the biggest worry for residents was that if the amendment allowing the pond went in as a permitted use, opposed to being allowed as a conditional use, it would remove public involvement on similar issues facing the community.
Many residents felt they knew about a park that could be built in the area, but that they were not aware of the large pond that would be part of it until the digging began.
"I think it's not having the feeling of transparency that bothers me most," said Jacob Bryant, a Pleasant Grove citizen who built his dream home near the park in 2005.
If the council amended the ordinance for conditional use, it would require a public hearing before
moving forward with projects such as the regional irrigation pond in this and other rural residential zones.
While the permitted use that was granted will now not require a public hearing, it has been a Pleasant Grove custom that when the public is interested in speaking at meetings, they are usually allowed the opportunity.
"There have been times where it's not even a public meeting, and the council will look at each other and say that we'll take public opinion," Pleasant Grove Mayor Mike Daniels said.
The decision last Tuesday also went against the recommendation of the city Planning Commission, which met on Jan. 24 and discussed concerns that many citizens expressed to them.
While some left the meeting visibly upset, others understood the reasoning for the council's decision.
"I understand why they did it," said Jeff Cope, who also lives near the future park. "Based on what I heard, with either permanent or conditional, they are going to have to have some open meetings that we can attend."
Work on the park has been delayed because of a temporary restraining order placed on the construction by Robert Schow, the former landowner. The court recently lifted the restraining order but Schow spoke passionately during the meeting, hoping to persuade the council to make the amendment conditional.
Council members said they understood their constituents' concerns, but didn't want to burden citizens with the costs that would stem from delaying the project further by making it a conditional use."I think you heard our public works director say that as it stands right now, we are looking at possibly $700,000 of cost because of the delays," City Councilman Bruce Call said. "That doesn't come out of dream money. It is right out of the pockets of our citizens."