Utah County Monument Markers for New Subdivisions: More Regulations to Cut

by Robert John Stevens, February 1, 2017

In Utah County, Utah, two monument markers are required for each subdivision whether the subdivision consists of one or more parcels.

To restate, if a subdivision is comprised of just one parcel, two monument markers are required. If a subdivision is comprised of one hundred parcels, still only two monument markers are required.

But according to Barry Prettyman at Cole’s Surveying and Engineering in Salem, Utah, surveyors don’t use the monument markers—instead, they survey from the section corners.

So why does the Utah County Land Use Regulations require two monument markers per subdivision, especially if others are nearby and surveyors don’t use them?

Monument markers are not easy to install. They require 6″ PVP pipe filled with cement and a brass monument placed on one end so its top is flush with the top of the PVP pipe, information etched into the brass and then buried in the ground. Installing them in asphalt is particularly difficult.

Monument markers are another reason to footnote the Utah County Land Use Regulations and cut the ones that don’t make logical sense.

The Utah County Public Works monument marker inspection fee is $390, which is required before the county engineer will sign my mylar plat. That is in addition to the $500 bond I already paid them. Since the bond didn’t allow us to get subdivision approval while we delayed the monument marker installation, there was no reason for bonding.

Barry Prettyman at Cole’s Surveying only charges $250 to build and install a monument marker. Since my wife and I bought the materials and had the bronze cap stamped, I hope he’ll charge less. 🙂

Is There No End to Government Cash Warranty Bonds?

by Robert John Stevens, January 12, 2017

Let’s discuss the legality and practicality of Utah County cash warranty bonds. Should the developer realistically pay a cash warranty bond to Utah County for work completed by non-government, private contractors? Where is the constitutional justification for that and where does it end?

If Utah County can justify a cash warranty bond for a private-party tasks, then why not require a cash warranty bond for the tasks performed by the Utah County Health Department for the water depth and perk tests, or the review of the subdivision application by Planning and Zoning and the County Attorney or the reviews performed by Public Works Department?

Or should we trust government but not private contractors?

Which jobs should and should not be bonded for the work done on my 5.25-acre parcel #2 where I had private contractors install power, cable, and natural gas, laser level and furrow the land, pave a shared driveway stub, dig a well, escrow water rights, provide engineering and title work, dig a trench for the water depth test, test the well water quality, and build a dirt pad and cement irrigation ditch (which wasn’t required for subdivision approval) with a gate and outlets, and install monument markers.

I also had private contractors install manholes to the south, pipe the Benjamin drainage ditch and backfill.

Warranty bonds are expensive and push the limits for developers. Loans often require interest payments. They also strain government resources by usurping responsibilities such as inspections, punch-card enforcement, and collections.

If the proper role of Utah County government is to perform tasks that private parties can’t provide, and therefore delegate to government, then stick to big tasks such as highways and sewerage processing plants which we desperately need and can’t build ourselves.

Appeal to Utah County Health Department for their Unfair Practice

by Robert Stevens, December 8, 2016

Letter to the Utah County Health Department:

Dear … (names removed),

Because the Utah County Health Department (UCHD) claims the below-surface water depth of my 5.25-acre parcel measured 32 inches vs 34 inches, the future homeowner must pay an additional $5k for his sewage system according to excavator Brian Sorensen’s estimate.

This policy is not consistent with fairness. Please consider my appeal:

1. Would a better policy be to take the average of all four measurements?

Notice the attached UCHD measurements were 54″ in October, 44″ in March, 32″ in July, 59″ in September and 51″in December. UCHD chose the 32″ measurement that penalizes.

2. Should measurements be avoided during flood irrigation months?

In July Strawberry Water discharged tens of thousands of gallons of water onto that parcel. Suppose UCHD purposely measured ground-water levels the same or next day after parcels are flood irrigated, wouldn’t they all fail?

3. Notice in September, near the end of the previous irrigation season, the water level dropped to 59″ — What can we conclude from that steep drop?

4. Because the PVC test pipe was not encased in gravel, its holes eventually became clogged–perhaps with mud, debris, dead animals and/or by a youth prank. We then dug a trench next to it and confirmed the water level was far below the surface as expected.

5. At the time of these measurements, UCHD measured underground water levels four times a year. Now they measure monthly, increased fees by $250 and increased their odds of penalizing the landowner.

6. To re-test and monitor for another year puts landowners another year closer to their water rights expiring.

7. Human waste on farms and gardens is desirable. In fact, neighbor Bill Robinson fertilizes his entire 35-acre farm with human waste from Orem.

8. There is no evidence that sewage will contaminate the underground water that is 145-feet below the surface and constantly flowing.

9. UCHD’s measurements did not match my measurements. As much as we trust and admire Brian who took the measurement, we have no proof it was done correctly.

10. Government-run tasks are not accountable. UCHD has nothing to lose by decreeing their verdict. Since there were no checks in place to verify the accuracy of the measurements, should we accept UCHD’s policy or give the landowner the benefit of the doubt?

11. Governments want to protect us from ourselves and everything but most religions teach that God wants us to suffer and address pains or needs—perhaps so we think and create solutions of value.

12. UCHD regulations and Utah County’s 270 pages of land-use ordinances have resulted in almost no new farms in decades. They do successfully use the force of government to shut out new, emerging farm competitors.

Please average your water depth measurements, lower your fees, return to measuring less frequently, and establish fair checks and balances.

A better approach is to get out entirely of the business of policing the lives of landowners with ever-increasing regulations and honor inalienable rights and free markets.

Let us remember the golden rule and hope God doesn’t embrace UCHD’s approach for Judgment Day or he may damn us all according to the worst thing we do in our lives.

Thank you again for visiting with me yesterday. We had a good discussion.

Best Regards,

Robert Stevens

Should Regulations be Gradually Mandated Only as the Population per Square Mile Increases?

by Robert John Stevens, December 1, 2016

Utah County, where I live, needs more sophisticated scrutiny of subdivision regulations so farmers can build on their own land without incurring huge expenses and years of kicking against the pricks.

Ezra Taft Benson said it best—If an individual citizen requests something of his neighbor and his neighbor refuses, is he justified to use the force of government to make his neighbor comply?

If we started government over again and Utah County was only populated by a few families, at what point would we mandate Utah County’s current 270-pages of land-use ordinances upon each other?

Here’s an idea—if regulations are to exist, what if they are gradually mandated only as the population per square mile increases?

See Report: Utah needs more sophisticated scrutiny of business regulations

Big-Guns Matt Gephardt Needed to Free Utah County Landowners from Tyranny

by Robert John Stevens, September 20, 2016. Letter emailed today to Matt Gephardt at KUTV:

Dear Matt Gephardt,

We desperately need your help.

Utah County refuses to allow most landowners to build on their own land unless they first build, pave and dedicate a road to Utah County—an undertaking which is financially impossible for most.

For example, I spent almost $200k improving two 5.25-acre parcels with water rights, power, natural gas, cable, laser leveling, a paved driveway and wells but Utah County refuses to grant subdivision approval because my driveways must pass thru 24-feet of my paved interior road to connect to the UDOT-approved road segment I had built.

As Utah County Attorney Robert Moore told me and Utah County employee Brandon Larsen, “We don’t like people building in Utah County.”

Please take this case and alert the public to take action and free Utah County landowners from government tyranny.

—Robert Stevens
CC: Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee who fights daily to protect constitutional rights

Utah County Denies Landowners the Right to Build

Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee on Compromising

by Robert John Stevens, September 15, 2016

I had lunch today with Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee after showing him my and my neighbors’ property in Utah County to clarify certain issues for him regarding subdivision improvements. He’s a great person and believes in limited, constitutional government.

He told me as a kid he operated a tractor over thousands of acres to remove weeds away from corn plants to give the corn a better chance at survival. As a BYU college student he installed swamp coolers on hundreds of people’s homes, innovated, built and up-sold conduits to channel the water off customer roofs. He also successfully managed the ground organization for Senator Mike Lee’s campaign.

Regarding government, Bill said, “I try and compromise without being compromised.” What a great quote!