Bluff Town Council Briefs: Jan 2 & 3, 2019

January 2, 2019

Kirk Benge, executive director of the San Juan County Public Health Department, attended Wednesday’s town council meeting. Benge explained that Bluff, as a new municipality, has the opportunity to appoint a representative to the county’s 7-member public health board. Board members typically meet 6 times per year to vote on and guide public health policy in the county, and they do not necessarily have to have a background in healthcare. The Bluff Town Council is currently accepting applications.

The council briefly debated the merits of a municipal energy use tax as a revenue stream. According to estimates provided by Rocky Mountain Power, a one percent tax would provide between $2,200 and $3,300 in revenue per year.

Last month, Bluff signed an interlocal agreement with the county to assume oversight of the Bluff airport. Luanne Hook said the lease to the BLM has been paid from hangar rent revenue.

Potential grant opportunities were also discussed, and the council said it is seeking volunteer writers to assist with community development grant applications.

With the new county commission set to take office next week, the council outlined a list of town priorities that they will be sending to the incoming commissioners, including:

  • The construction of a new transfer station in Bluff
  • The council’s opposition to the Bluff Dwellings Community Reinvestment Area
  • An equitable distribution of county Transient Room Tax revenue to Bluff
  • Allowing for community involvement in the sale of the Bluff Elementary School building after the new school is completed
  • The council’s support for holding county commission meetings in the southern part of the county in 2019

January 3, 2019

On Thursday afternoon, Chris McAnany, land use lawyer and Moab’s City Attorney, answered questions about Lyman Family Farms’ request to disconnect 390 acres on Comb Ridge from the town of Bluff.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide Bluff residents information from a third-party attorney on the disconnection.

McAnany said repeatedly throughout the meeting that if the town rejects the disconnection request, it could lead to a costly legal battle.

“As a veteran of land use litigation,” he said, “I should warn you that it could be expensive and time consuming [if it ends up in court].”

Bruce Baird, the attorney for Lyman Family Farms, made similar statements in a letter he sent to the town council last fall. “Bluff will lose the suit [if it denies the disconnection],” he wrote, “but only after Bluff has wasted a fortune on attorney’s fees.”

But McAnany said that disconnection cases are each unique and involve many complicated factors. “Baird’s idea is to come in, intimidate everyone, and convince you to fold,” McAnany said, adding that there doesn’t appear to be a “slam dunk” case for either party.

McAnany was hesitant to discuss legal strategy in public and met with the council in closed session.

The council is expected to make a decision on January 8.

(More details on the town hall meeting, including specific questions asked by Bluff residents can be found in the meeting minutes.)