Preface: Millard County’s “new” land-use ordinances started causing major problems right from the outset — with the Deseret Heritage Subdivision at the old Millard County Fairgrounds in Deseret — and they have been causing problems for property owners ever since. We now have at least four years of history to consider in terms of application of the ordinances. SEE The Current Status of Property Rights in Millard County and A Millard County Case Study. This latest saga is one of many such stories, but serves as a good example and reminder of the issue(s). Once again, this is something that most people have little awareness of — it’s part of the equation that most people never see — involving a fundamental issue that no one else seems to be willing to address or do anything about.
Ashton Farms Expansion. Most people, locally, are familiar with the Ashton Family and Ashton Farms Custom Meats, which are great local success stories, and now have facilities on both sides of Millard County. The original, main operation, including primary meat processing facility, is located right on the farm, northeast of Fillmore — in unincorporated Millard County. Ashtons have been blessed with success, are very popular, and have had steady expansions over the last few years.
The latest expansion has involved new additions to the facility located on the farm. Obviously, this is a facility that has been in operation for quite some time. But it all came to a screeching halt this week, resulting in an expedited public hearing before the Millard County Planning Commission, and an “emergency” meeting by the Millard County Commission, in Delta, immediately following the planning commission meeting.
Backstory. So here’s the basic backstory. Ashtons wanted to do another expansion/addition, so they got a building permit from the applicable Millard County Building Authority, and went to work. At the point where it was time to start hooking everything together to finish-up, they were going to need to shut-down their big coolers, and get state and federal inspections, etc., before re-starting the coolers, to bring the project to completion.
When they got to that point, someone raised a red flag, and said there was an issue with the whole project — although they had gotten a building permit; they had not first jumped through all the additional hoops now required under the new land-use ordinance, to secure a Conditional Use Permit (“CUP”) for a “Poultry and Meat Processing Facility” — even though they had been operating a meat processing facility for years.
This threw a serious monkey wrench in to the whole works. Because Millard County had created the mess that caused the problem, and because Ashtons happen to be fortunate enough to warrant special treatment, however, Millard County officials moved heaven and earth to get the necessary approvals in record time. It was the epitome of policy actions and decisions being driven by the personalities involved.
The Band-aid Fix. To pull that off, the Planning Commission and County Commission completely ignored whatever procedural obstacles might have stood in the way, bending and/or breaking state laws and local ordinances, including a myriad of transparency and due process requirements, to go through the motions of holding an expedited “public” hearing before the planning commission, which most members of the public had no reasonable way of knowing anything about. Because of the obvious procedural defects, planning commission member, Greg Greathouse, who is an attorney, abstained, and declined to participate in the tenuous process, as the planning commission applied yet another Band-aid to the symptom, rather than doing anything to address or treat the cause. The Millard County Commission then held a rare emergency meeting immediately following, in Delta, to provide the necessary approval of the Conditional Use Permit, to get the project back on track.
Fortunately, this worked out for Ashtons. Unfortunately, under Millard County’s selective application and enforcement of its monstrosity land-use ordinances, many other people who run into exactly these same kinds of obstacles in the application of these ordinances would probably end up getting stuck in an administrative quagmire for 3-4 months before things could get straightened out — if ever. SEE Due Process & Equal Protection in Millard County — a Case Study.
This is just the latest in the never-ending saga involving Millard County’s inappropriate and over-the-top, urban-based, one-size-fits-all land-use ordinances — a continuing issue which no one else seems to be willing to address or do anything about.