Polk has spent $74k on developing UDO

Published 5:51 pm Friday, September 21, 2012

Polk County has spent $74,167.75 on the unified development ordinance (UDO) so far, according to contracts from the Polk County Finance Office. Discussions and expenses related to the UDO began in 2010.
The costs include $57,100 to Holland Consulting and $17,067.75 to attorney Michael Egan for their work on the UDO.
During a public hearing held Sept. 17, which was attended by about 300 people, 52 of whom spoke against the UDO, several speakers mentioned that the county has paid $197,000 for the UDO.
The cost numbers the speakers were referring to were obtained from the county, but they included costs for the county’s comprehensive plan, approved March 15, 2010, and total costs to Egan for all planning board duties. Egan works with the planning board for a variety of duties, including work on the UDO, as well as attending meetings, work completed on the subdivision and zoning ordinances, working with the zoning board of adjustment, recent planning board training and any land use compliance issues.
The comprehensive plan cost the county $87,852.50, including $84,860 to Holland Consulting and $2,992.50 to Egan, according to the county’s figures.
None of the costs include employee time. The county also received a $6,000 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation for the comprehensive plan, which is not included in the costs.
Some speakers on Sept. 17 said they understand the county has spent $197,000 on the UDO and they think that money should have been used for other needs.
“I understand $197,000 has been spent and I believe that money could have been spent elsewhere,” said Polk County resident Russell Stribling.
Residents Ben Hudson, Tyrone Phillips and Phillip Baumberger also mentioned the $197,000 allegedly spent.
“One person doesn’t want to see lights on a mountain and you’re going to spend $197,000 for what one person wants?” Baumberger asked commissioners.
In total, the county has spent $162,020.25 for the 20/20 vision (comprehensive plan) and the UDO, including consulting and attorney fees.
Commissioners began discussing creating a UDO on May 3, 2010 (see timeline page 4). A UDO committee was created  to work on a draft UDO, which was approved by a split vote on May 9, 2012. The UDO committee recommended deleting the mountainside and ridgeline section, which currently restricts development at elevations above 1,650 ft., and to apply requirements for land disturbing activity of slopes 30 percent or greater to the entire county, among other recommendations.
Of the members on the UDO committee, Henry Bright, Ray Gasperson, Evangelena Barber, Doug Harmon, Jim Carson, Wayne Horne and Roger Odel approved the motion with the recommendations. UDO committee members Christel Walter, Mark Byington, Renée McDermott, Harry Petersen and Lisa Krolak voted against the motion.
The UDO committee’s draft was sent to the planning board, which made further revisions prior to recommending the UDO draft to the board of commissioners, including changing the slope restriction to a slope of 25 percent or more.
Commissioners scheduled a workshop to discuss the UDO draft for Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.

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