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P&Z suggests modifications to animal rights

The Preston Planning and Zoning commission decided to recommend that the city leave animal rights alone except for the number of animals per parcels, and adjustments to the grandfathering clause.

The council asked assistant city planner Sean Oliverson to draw up a plan that would:

1- ban domestic animals from lots smaller than a half acre, and one large animal such as a cow or horse, or two small animals such as a sheep or goat, per acre.

2- Chickens (no roosters) would be limited to five per lot as does the current ordinance

3- keep the same regulations regarding animal noise and smell

4- eliminating the requirement of having an animal on a lot for at least one day per year

5- keep the grandfathering clause, but apply it to a lot instead of an owner.

The commission asked Franklin County Extension Agent Bracken Henderson how much land was required to maintain animals on a lot. He said it depended on how a lot was managed. A land owner that manages property well can sustain more animals for longer periods of time in a cleaner environment than one who does not.

Commissioner Bernie Winn felt that despite what the current ordinance says, people ought to do what they want on their land. But she was in the minority.

“We do live in the city. Is animal pasture the best use of town?” asked commissioner Steve Call.

Commissioner Fred Titensor recognized that the current plan was not working, and for several reasons — most obvious of which is the fact that the ordinance is impossible to enforce.

That fact is the complaint held by Preston Police Chief Dan McCammon. “Please make whatever code you do, precise,” he said.

One benefit of allowing animal rights was brought up at the commissioners previous meeting: it allows land owners of interior, house-bound lots a means to keep foliage down. Many of those lots also have been used to allow youngsters learn how to raise animals, such as sheep, calves, horses and rabbits. Currently, of the 165 animals registered for the Franklin County Animal Market Sale, a quarter of them are registered to participants with addresses within the Preston City limits.

In other business, the commission discussed construction of high density housing at 314 West First North. The plan is to construct 20 units there. The commission held a public hearing on the project.

Neighbor Jeff Baxter opposed the plan based on an increase to 20 units from the 10 units the plan originally proposed. He also noted that current city code does not allow for as many units on the 1.45 acre lot as have been proposed.

With people saying they need more affordable housing in Preston at odds with residents saying they don’t like the high density housing, the commission continues to study the issue.

Call feels the project is an asset that Preston needs, but recognizes that “nobody wants them in their backyard....It’ll take give and take on both sides,” he said.

Titensor recognized the patrons felt the process was dragging on, as the project has been discussed in prior meetings, however he feels that is the strength of the planning and zoning process.

This was the first time a pubic hearing had been scheduled for a decision to be made. He asked the city staff to do additional homework on square footage requirements for the project. Commissioner Adrienne Alvey agreed with that request.

The public hearing was extended into the commission’s next meeting to give city personnel time to review the current city code.

WS welcomes new board member

The July West Side School Board meeting had many points of interest. The first was immediately obvious: the record attendance. All six of the socially distanced seats were filled. In the aftermath of the public meeting regarding the district’s plans to build a cesspool on the school property the day before, it was hardly surprising. Despite that, the lagoon was not on the agenda that night.

The district has made an effort to utilize ALEK, an online math curriculum, monitored by a Joseph Grimm. If a student scores high enough through this system the student can instead jump ahead to the next class level.

The front of the Dahle Performing Arts Center just got some sprucing up thanks to a grant for which Bracken Henderson applied. He did all of the work including writing the grant. It was intended that the work would be partially completed by the West Side Biology class, but their assistance was limited because of the virus.

The cherry on top of the district’s news was the donation of a slightly used John Deere lawn mower. It has about 100 hours on it. Jeff and Jen Johnson donated it to the school after they moved to Raft River.

The latest addition to the faculty, Mr. Richard Condie, introduced himself. He will be the new English teacher. Previously he had been working in the English Department and serving as the athletic director of the Grace School District. The board was grateful to have him, remarking that English teachers can be hard to find.

It was then that the school board moved onto the major issue of the night: accepting Brad Nielson’s resignation and the appointment of Nathan Lott to fill the position. Nielson was recently hired by the school district as the business manager. Lott will finish Nielson’s term.

After that came the subject of the Coronavirus Contingency Plans. The school year will begin as normal with a regular schedule for both classes and busses. The plans the board spoke on were for if the spread of COVID-19 comes to the West Side Area. There were two options that the board considered, both would divide the student population into two groups, Option 1 was to have the students take full days in class but to have on and off days, while Option 2 was to have the students come every day, but have one group in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The school board agreed to go with Option 2 as a tentative plan based upon any unknown future needs that could surface. This option was not only the most popular option with the board but more importantly, the parents. The board also discussed the creation of a quarantine room for students who display a fever or other symptoms to be sequestered from the general student population until a parent or guardian could be contacted.

Mutton Bustin' to be held Aug. 1

That Famous Preston Night Rodeo Committee couldn’t say no to those sad little faces intent on riding their mutton mounts in 2020. They will get the chance to do so on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 8 p.m.

”All the little mutton busters who signed up were so sad, so we decided to go ahead and have their event,” said rodeo committee chairman Kris Beckstead. “We didn’t want to disappoint the 36 little kids whose parents slept overnight on the sidewalk in front of Keller Tire or showed up at 4 a.m. to enter!”

The rodeo committee is running the event, which is sponsored by Keller Tire. Admission is free to the public, although donations are encouraged to help raise funds to upgrade the rodeo arena, said Beckstead.

”We have a 5,000 seat arena so we should be able to have a couple of hundred people spread out to watch the kids,” she added.

Keller Tire has three big trophies to give away to the winners and t-shirts, buckets and scarves have been made for all the entrants.