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Ag vs development: Spanish Fork mulls transfer of development rights to preserve Riverbottoms

As Spanish Fork has spent the past year and a half studying options for approximately 1,000 acres known as the Riverbottoms, it’s come up with a few scenarios for what the future of the Riverbottoms will look like.

Extensive public feedback was gathered throughout the process, with most feedback from two strongly opposed sides: those who want the area preserved for its traditionally agricultural uses, and those who have land they would like to develop.

“How do you balance the two voices that are so opposite of each other?” asked Seth Perrins, city administrator for the city of Spanish Fork, in a Facebook Live video May 14.

Perrins later told the city council during a presentation last week that the overwhelming sentiment from Spanish Fork residents has been to preserve the area. Landowners are split. Some bought land specifically for development, and want to move forward. Others have farmed there for generations and don’t want development near them.

Right now, each home in the Riverbottoms is set on multiple acres. The land is technically zoned in Utah County, though it’s anticipated to be eventually annexed into Spanish Fork city boundaries.

The city has released three possible development scenarios for the area on its website, and is hoping one of them will be an acceptable compromise between the opposing views on what the area’s future should be.

The first scenario presented would allow for development, but only in certain areas that fall outside the 100-year floodplain — meaning nothing would be developed close to the river. It would also set up a Transferrable Development Rights (TDR) program so that development rights could be transferred from the 100-year floodplain areas to other portions of the Riverbottoms.

The second scenario is similar to the first, except that development would not be allowed near Main Street to preserve views.

The third scenario allows for the most preservation of agricultural land in the area. This plan, also, would allow development rights to be transferred, but has those development rights being transferred out of the Riverbottoms entirely and into other parts of the city.

While some neighboring cities, including Mapleton, use TDRs, the concept is new to Spanish Fork. It would allow people who own land close to the river to still be able to monetize their development rights without necessarily developing in the Riverbottoms.

“This may be great for a farmer that wants to sell away the development rights, and keep farming,” Perrins told the council. “But they were able to at least realize some increase because of selling that development away.”

Perrins told the council that other options not included in the presented scenarios would include buying the Riverbottoms, which would cost $40 to $60 million, or simply not annexing the area and leaving it to the county.

The city doesn’t have the money to buy it outright, Perrins said, but if the community wants to preserve the area badly enough that it would be willing to bond for it, that could be a scenario for the council to add to consideration.

Though scenarios have been presented, Perrins said there is still a lot of work to be done before anything would come to fruition. He suggested the council get more public feedback, possibly through a public meeting or survey. Ordinances would have to be developed to iron out and implement details about a TDR program, no matter which scenario was selected.

Mayor Steve Leifson said he and the council should get public feedback, then come back to discuss which options they’re comfortable with based on that feedback.

“We only get one shot at getting this right,” Leifson said. “I’m glad we’re taking the time and effort.”

US holds CBD hearing as fans, sellers await legal clarity

SILVER SPRING, Md. — CBD products have surged in popularity despite confusion around their legal status . Now U.S. regulators are exploring ways the hemp ingredient might officially be allowed in food, drinks and dietary supplements.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a hearing Friday to collect information about cannabis compounds such as CBD, which is already available in candy, syrups, oils, drinks, skin patches and dog food.

No decisions are expected immediately, but the hearing is seen as an important step toward clarifying regulations around the ingredient.

“There is mass confusion in the marketplace,” said Peter Matz of the Food Marketing Institute, one of dozens of speakers who addressed the FDA panel.

Other speakers including academic researchers, businesses and consumer advocates urged the FDA to move quickly, noting that the industry is growing rapidly with little oversight. That is raising concerns about the accuracy of product labels and people not realizing how much they may be consuming through various products.

Before the hearing began, acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless noted critical questions remain about the safety of CBD, such as how much is safe to use daily and the compound’s effects on pregnant women and children.

CBD often comes from a cannabis plant known as hemp, which is defined by the U.S. government as having less than 0.3% THC, the compound that causes marijuana’s mind-altering effect. CBD doesn’t cause that high, but fans of the products claim benefits including relief for pain and anxiety.

For now, the FDA has said CBD is not allowed in food, drinks and supplements. But given the agency’s limited resources, many do not expect the agency to enforce the position unless products make explicit health claims that could endanger people.

Adding to the confusion, some states like Colorado allow it in food and drinks. In New York City, where officials have warned it’s not allowed in food and drinks, restaurants and stores have continued selling it.

Utah police used new DNA test to link man to child's death

LOGAN — Police were able to quickly connect a man to the disappearance and death of a 5-year-old Utah girl using a new type of DNA test that can produce results within hours, authorities said.

Logan police used a Rapid DNA test to link Alex Whipple to the Saturday disappearance of his niece, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, KSL-TV reported.

Police had announced Tuesday that they had “strong evidence” against the 21-year-old uncle, who had been staying at his sister’s house in Logan, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City.

After the girl was reported missing, investigators found her blood on Whipple’s watch and sweatshirt, authorities said. They also found a broken knife taken from the home with the girl’s blood.

The Rapid DNA machines allowed investigators to match the evidence within hours, leading to Whipple being charged with aggravated murder and other counts before the girl’s body had been found, said Nate Mutter, a special agent with the state attorney general’s office. The process of matching DNA can take weeks.

The child’s body was found in a wooded area less than a block from her home on Wednesday after Whipple gave his lawyer a map of where she was hidden. Prosecutors said they would not pursue the death penalty in exchange for the map.

The attorney general’s office has two of the machines.

Utah mother, son found dead after apparent triple murder in Virginia

A homicide investigation is underway after three people were found dead inside a home in central Virginia this week, including a mother and son who had ties to Utah County.

Authorities determined Rachel Ozuna, 34, and her partner Michael Coleman, 39, were killed by a “sharp instrument” inside a residence near Arlene Acres Drive in Spotsylvania County, according to a press release shared by the sheriff’s office on Thursday.

Her 14-year-old son Kyrrus Ozuna was also killed in the same manner, although a toddler and a 6-week-old baby were found unharmed in the home on Wednesday morning.

The case was officially ruled as a homicide, and no further details were released about the investigation.

“This investigation is still in the early stages and detectives are actively processing evidence and conducting interviews,” the sheriff’s office reported.

Rachel Ozuna previously worked at Maple Canyon Family Dental before moving to Virginia, according to a Facebook post from the office.

“Words can’t describe the sadness we feel as we mourn one of our own. Rachel could brighten up a room anywhere she went,” the post stated. “Our patients, our Maple Canyon family and the community love her and will miss her dearly. Praying for her family during this difficult time.”

Rachel’s sister Kaisha Ozuna wrote on Facebook that the two younger children were at a children’s hospital being treated for dehydration.

“My heart has been ripped out of my chest. I have lost a piece of my soul and my best friend. I lost my go to person and the one that not only knew me best, but fully entrusted with everything,” she wrote.

A GoFundMe page raised more than $14,000 by Friday for funeral arrangements, transporting the bodies to Utah and bringing the young children to Utah to live with other family members.

“Our families and community are completely devastated,” the page read. “No reason imaginable is reason enough for these 3 to meet their end the way they did.”

Silicon Slopes, UCAIR partner to make Utah's tech industry more clean-air friendly

Silicon Slopes is partnering with the nonprofit Utah Clean Air Partnership to work toward making Utah’s tech industry a little more environmentally friendly.

One in seven Utah jobs are in Utah’s technology sector, according to a press release from UCAIR, and growth in the industry is expected to continue accelerating.

“This influx of people to fill these positions also means an influx of increasing emissions that has a marked impact on our air quality,” said UCAIR executive director Thom Carter i the release.

Elizabeth Converse, director of operations for the Utah Technology Council, said Silicon Slopes is interested in what individual companies and their workforce can do within companies to voluntarily promote better air quality. It’s important because poor air quality has been linked to negative outcomes like higher suicide rates and worse education outcomes, among other health concerns.

Converse said the poor air quality in Utah has affected the tech industry’s recruitment of employees to the state.

“It’s really, really hard to convince somebody to move here and find their success in Utah if they can’t breath, or if when we bring them in they can’t see through the smog,” Converse said, adding that the most important element is making sure employees have a place to live that’s healthy for them to raise a family.

UCAIR works on education, grants and partnerships surrounding Utah’s air quality, and Carter says a formal partnership was the best way to provide Silicon Slopes with the information, data and practical solutions they can implement to improve air quality in the region.

Utah’s infamous inversions, a weather event common in the winter that traps pollution in the valleys, can’t be prevented. But, reducing the amount of emissions that are trapped by the inversion can be minimized.

Mobile emissions — those from vehicles on Utah roads — make up more than half of Utah’s emissions. Growth, particularly in the tech sector, is a big struggle as it relates to air quality, Carter said.

Educating people moving to the area about what they can do to reduce emissions, and how companies can incentive their employees to be part of a solution is a big part of what the partnership is hoped to accomplish.

On a practical level, that may look like educating companies about implementing policies that encourage carpooling, working remotely on bad air days, or providing their employees with passes for local transit, Carter said. It could also mean looking at adding shading mechanisms so businesses are spending less on cooling costs.

Converse said it could also look like getting teams from companies to “compete” with each other.

“Getting people engaged in a fun, rewarding way is important to build healthy patterns that help us clean up the air in Utah,” Converse said.

There’s also a policy component to the partnership, Carter said, where UCAIR will help Silicon Slopes identify which pieces of legislation or policy are most beneficial for air quality solutions.

“I think this shows definite leadership by ... the team at Silicon Slopes,” Carter said. “Because they are driving so much growth, they need to take action, and they’re interested in solutions and that needs to be commended.”

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald 

The Rasband family, of Cedar Hills, from right, Scott, Courtney, Cameron, 14, Eden, 8, Elle, 11, and Davis, 16, stack blocks at the final station during a family-oriented race, in the style of the TV show "The Amazing Race," as part of the Cedar Hills Family Festival on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in places around the city. To finish the race, participants had to stack blocks with U.S. National Parks written on them in order from the most western park to the most eastern park. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald