Our community meeting on January 20th was a great time to get together and learn more about the referendum. We participated in a live interactive polling session that was very informative and gave everyone a chance to participate.
We started off with a look back at scenes around our unique small town by watching this video. Laurie Hirzel then led us in an interactive session to help us understand the makeup of the group. We had a terrific youth group there to help everyone get connected on their phone so the responses would show up on the big screen. Through this exercise we learned that a lot of people are still feeling a little anxious about the future of Coalville. Most of those in attendance were Coalville registered voters and 41% consider themselves lifers with deep roots in the community. Although there was a good share (10%) that are newer to the community moving here in the last 5 years. One of the most interesting activities we did was to ask the group to give one word that describes why they choose to live in this community. A word cloud was created on the screen as the answers were collected. Small and rural were the most common answers with peaceful, community, family and quiet also being very popular. We were pleased to see “JimBlonquist” also made the list of top reasons to live here and we couldn’t agree more! These are all the things we value as a community and as a citizen’s group we will strive to protect and preserve.
Louise Willoughby then introduced the six referendum sponsors and explained the purpose of the meeting. Our goal was to provide information about the referendum and how the public can be involved in the process. She explained that if the required number of signatures are gathered on the petitions the rezone Ordinance 2019-7 and 2019-8 will be placed on a ballot for the people to either uphold or overturn by vote. The time between now and the June 30, 2020 election will be an education period where we can learn more about the currently approved project and also the development that could be built under the original zoning. Camellia Robbins gave a great overview of our new website ilovecoalville.com and showed us where to find lots of detailed information and how to interact with the site. Lynn Wood then gave us a basic overview of the referendum process and where we are in the timeline. She explained the efforts of the CFRG group have been directed at allowing the public to have a greater voice in directing the growth that is coming our way.
Questions and Answers
We then went back to the interactive session and gave the participants an opportunity to ask questions. Each person could either enter their own question or like someone else’s question and the most popular questions rose to the top of the list. We answered as many questions as possible and are including the question list here for those not in attendance to review:
Q – How do we minimize the growth?
A – The only way to control growth is through proper zoning and city ordinances. Rolling back the zoning on this project to the AG zone is a good way to limit the number of homes that can be built.
Q – What benefits don’t you like?
A – What’s not to like about any of the benefits that might be brought to the city by the currently approved project? The problem is they are not free. Our city leaders have negotiated a much higher density in exchange for these benefits. Are these the benefits the citizens really want or do they place higher value on a lower density project that will help maintain our small town, rural culture? We believe the voice of the public should have played a much more important role in this decision and is the reason for the referendum – to give the people the opportunity to make this decision.
Q – How can we stop the golf courses?
A – If the zoning is reverted the development will fall under the AG zoning. Under this zoning a recreational use is permitted that may include a golf course. If the developer sees this as an economically viable option considering a reduced density they may proceed with an application.
Q – Why are there 2 referendums?
A – The rezone was passed on December 9, 2019 as Ordinance 2019-7. The following week additional stipulations added by Councilman Cody Blonquist were approved and the rezone was ratified on December 16, 2019 as Ordinance 2019-8. There is some legal ambiguity as to which of these two ordinances control the zone change. Until all the attorneys involved stipulate to an agreement we will continue to collect signatures on both.
Q – Will this stop the development?
A – The currently approved development with 570 residences and 130 nightly rentals will not be built. The developer may decide to continue with a new application under the original zoning. The city staff has indicated to us that the approved number of residences would be approximately 120 and each could be allowed an accessory dwelling unit. The golf course could still be part of the application including related structures and nightly rental units.
Q – Do we still have a developmental bargaining chip if the referendum is passed?
A – The developer may elect to process the application completely within the framework of the original zoning and development code. In this case if all requirements are met the project would be approved. However, we are back at the same starting point. If the developer desired additional density etc. there is room for negotiation, this time the public could be more involved in how far the density was increased.
Q – How are you going to get the older residents info?
A- We will come to you! We have already visited several seniors at home and are willing to make it as easy as possible for you. If you know of someone who would like to be involved but is not able to get out please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be on our way.
Q – Who is paying for the referendum, how much is this costing the group?
A – The initial legal fees were covered by several people in the group. Our website was also very generously donated by a member of the community. Since the beginning of the year we have received approximately $1,700 in cash donations that will be used for mailings, signs, printing and legal costs etc. We are hoping to raise $5,000 and believe this will get us through the referendum process and help us keep you up to date and involved. If you would like to contribute to this cause donations can be made here. A big THANK YOU to each of you who have helped move this effort along.
Q – How can people outside the city limits but in the area have a voice?
A – Unfortunately only Coalville residents can sign the petition but there are lots of other ways to make a difference. Please come and participate in any CFRG or city meetings there is strength in numbers. Send us emails about your concerns, volunteer to help with other things we are doing. Subscribe to our email list and check the website often. There are many outside the city limits that are helping and we are very interested in involving residents in all surrounding areas….. and even those who have moved away.
Q – Will the developer call me if I sign?
A – We think that is highly unlikely, your phone number is not available to them. Although the developer is likely to try and influence the public in other ways that may include mailings, a website, open house and they also recently did a door-to-door survey.
Some of the questions are better answered by the city. We will pass these along.
Q – Who does Don Sargent work for?
Q – How much will this cost the city?
Q – Why does the city not listen to us?
Q – Is there an additional cost for a June election vs. November election?
Q – Where will the water shares come from?
On to Petition Signing
Doug Porter wrapped things up and was just giving directions on where to go to sign the petitions when he was interrupted by our “Money Honey” Gretchen. She got the crowd stoked up about supporting the citizen’s efforts to keep our town rural through a generous donation. Everyone then moved on to the cafeteria for voter registration, petition signing and some deep discussions about our future.
A big thank you to everyone who came and participated with us. Hopefully this won’t be the last “By the People – For the People” event!