Board of Adjustments asks for proof of “substantial work” in Mendon airstrip permit

Attorney Dan Dygert addresses the Cache County Board of Adjustments regarding Holyoak's CUP for their personal airport.

MENDON – After a two-and-a-half-hour meeting on Thursday, the Cache County Board of Adjustments made the decision to remand the matter of the Holyoak’s conditional use permit (CUP) for a private air strip in Mendon to the land use authority. The board of adjustments is seeking further information that supports their initial findings to uphold the Holyoaks CUP during their June 6 appeal meeting.

Board of Adjustments member Leslie Larson said the board did not have enough information in front of them to decide anything that night.

“I see the conclusion the planning commission made,” she said to those in attendance, “but I don’t see what they relied on.”

The meeting was held in the Historic Courthouse Council Chambers Thursday, August 15. About 20 people were in attendance, both supporting the CUP and those fighting is validity.

Attorney Dan Dygert opened the meeting with his summary of events and information that he claims deems the CUP null and void.

Dygert specifically contested the upholding of the permit due to the length change from 1300 feet down to 640 feet “almost a full year after the site plan was presented,” he said.

He also argued the conditional use permit required the Holyoaks to perform “substantial work” to the airstrip within 12 months, but he hasn’t seen any proof of that.

If you find they did substantial work, I would ask you to go through the file and point out on what day, what they did, because that’s the question no one has been able to answer for us,” he said to the board members.

A representative from Cache County, Planning Manager Chris Harrild, addressed the board with the findings of the Cache County Development Services staff in regard to the notice of appeal from Dygert.

Harrild made the point to emphasize the reason and scope of the meeting, saying the original decision to issue the CUP is not to be considered and many of the points Dygert brought up in the meeting were not relevant.

“The actions that the planning commission took in 2016 aren’t applicable. A lot was brought up that isn’t pertinent to this conversation,” he said. “You’re looking at: did the planning commission act property in not revoking the permit? That’s it.”

Harrild then went on to summarize the findings from the staff, saying each point was found as valid and the commission “appears to have acted properly.”

The members on the board of adjustments asked several questions relating to the original permit and Harrild again reminded them that those details from the original permit are a “distraction.”

“While it might be emotional and valid points, the time to contest that permit passed years ago. Based on the standard of codes, and based on included findings, the commission’s decision not to revoke the CUP appears correct,” Harrild said. “Commission’s action appears to be legal and given the facts surrounding it, I haven’t heard argument that the commission acted illegally. I’ve heard that when it was approved in 2016 there could have been more information, but that is not what is being discussed in June of this year or in this court today.”

Rachel Holyoak, owner of the property and the contested CUP, addressed the chamber and clarified her side of the story. She talked through the process of paperwork in obtaining Federal Aviation Association (FAA) permits and Cache County permits for the airstrip.

When asked what “substantial work” they had put into the airstrip she said, “it’s been a dance between many entities. It’s a process to file. The substantial work became working with the Planning and Zoning Commission.”

After meeting together as a board with the city attorney in chambers, the motion was made to remand the issue over to the planning commission for further clarification and information.

Dygert said he was happy with how the meeting turned out and how the board was willing to listen and “dig into” the main issues.

“They were very thoughtful and dug into the key issue of substantial work and sent that back to the planning commission to clarify that. Hopefully, they’ll be able to see there wasn’t anything for the commission to rely on and make a decision in our favor,” he said.

The full report from the Cache County Development Services staff can be found online at cachecounty.org

Cache County could not be reached for comment in time for the publication of this article. Rachel Holyoak declined to comment.

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