Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Checklist of Town Incorporation

This week we discussed a checklist for Bluff to be able to incorporate. Below are the necessary things that Bluff needs to accomplish in order to become incorporated as a town:

State of Utah incorporation process:
  • A contiguous area not within a municipality may incorporate
  • Request feasibility study from the Lt. Governor:
  • Describe proposed area for town
  • Include accurate map by licensed surveyor
  • Five signers as sponsors, one primary

Lt. Gov Feasibility study:
  • Bluff Community selects consultant from recommended list
  • Consultant completes and submits study to Lt. Governor
Study Considerations:
  • Population and density
  • Surrounding area
  • Five-year projections of demographics and economics
  • Proposed town: household size, industrial and commercial development
  • Projected five-year growth
  • Five-year projection of cost
  • Proposed governmental services (complete list available - following are examples)
    • Law enforcement
    • Fire protection
    • Roads and public works
    • Garbage
    • Culinary water
    • Sewer
    • Secondary water
    • Government offices
    • Noxious weeds
    • (No proposed change in Bluff requested services)
  • Projection of revenue and expenses based on services requested
  • If five-year revenues exceed five-year expenses by more that 10%
  • We may move forward to a public hearing

Public Hearing:
  • Posted in newspaper, on websites, legal notices- 45 days or less
  • Map of boundaries
  • Results of study
  • Public comment
  • File for incorporation with certified petition

General Election:
  • General election is held.
  • A majority of registered voters in proposed area voting in favor means Bluff will be incorporated
Simply going through the checklist a few things stood out to me as important things that Bluff may want to place higher priorities on:
  • Feasibility study - needs to ensure that all costs and financial obligations will be met with an undeniable level of certainty. Including fire, roads, law enforcement, garbage, culinary water, sewer, and government offices. As well as viable five-year projected "growth" and future leadership.
  • Proposed area for town - needs to be validated and have unquestionable ability to be maintained. 
In solidifying all the needed information for these two pieces success of the future incorporated Bluff.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Trip to Bluff

Some of the Bluff Influences:
  • Melvin Gain
  • Gene whoshay
  • Pat cook
  • Steve Simpson
  • Jim Hook
  • Cindy and Amer Tomay
  • Marx Powell
  • Toni

Interview with Lynn Stevens: (
President of the Hole in the Rock Foundation

  • Lynn Stevens Information:
    • County Commissioner for 8 years worked for the county for more
  • SITLA Property:
    • This land is a piece of the Pioneer Trail
    • SITLA Land purchase is intended to be a venue for Youth Conferences and allowing individuals and groups to hike the pioneer trail.
    • Difficulty with land management to hike, they want to buy part of the Hole in the Rock Trail to accommodate large groups.
    • They are opposed to “developing” the land or making any structural improvements on the land.
    • “The land is already representative of what we want.” The SITLA property is meant to give history and education of the pioneers who came to Bluff.
  • Hole in the Rock Foundation:
    • Private Non-profit organization
    • The LDS Church has no ownership, sponsorship or backing.
    • The only influence the church has is sending LDS Historical Couples to maintain the fort. The couples do not hand out any literature (Book of Mormon, Pass along cards, pamphlets, etc) nor are they allowed to proselyte.
    • Bluff residents volunteer and greet tourists and inform them of area attractions
    • 200 Acres (390 Acres private information)
    • HIRF members are direct descendants of the Bluff Pioneers
    • Corrinne, the previous HIRF President, purchased lots of land in Bluff so others wouldn’t come in and build vacation homes.
  • Bluff Cemetery:
    • Lynn Steven’s Grandfather was the first person buried there
    • HIRF owns a large portion of the cemetery. They purchased it to keep it in Bluff ownership and “undevelopable land.” They wanted it to stay part of the cemetery.
    • The Deed is in the name of the HIRF  
  • Bluff Fort:
    • They have already had over 30K visitors and are expecting that number to rise over 50K by the end of the year.
    • Those visitors have come from 54 different countries, and every state in the US.
    • Bluff Fort highlights the international tourists data
    • Sign in and comments information
      • Data and information on why visitors come to the Fort and Bluff
    • All of the people who work at the Bluff Fort are 8 month volunteers.
  • Bluff Information:
    • Green Built Property Tax is low and most of Bluff is Green Built Property
    • Questions about water rights
    • 80% occupancy in hotels throughout the year
    • Tax Base
    • No road maintenance equipment
    • Potential funding issues
    • “There are limits to the Transit Tax, it has to be spent for tourism.”
  • Castle Valley Incorporated
    • Castle Valley may be a good precedence
  • Moab leveraged what they have and made the grew their economy and town around it.
    • Make tourists more comfortable
    • 50+ years to get there

Interview with Toni:
Navajo Mother and Employee at the Twin Rocks Cafe

  • Toni:
    • She was born in 1962 and has lived here her whole life
    • They got electricity on the reservation four years ago
    • She grew up without it and her kids would ask what she did to pass the time before electricity.
    • They used to come to Bluff for water because there was no water source on the reservation. They would come across the bridge and leading into Bluff and get their water then walk/take it back to their homes
    • The Navajo Nation use to take up part of Bluff but Bluff took over that portion. It was Melvin Gain, (Cross the man with no shoes so named by the Navajo Nation) who has lived in Bluff his entire life of 92 years, was the one that said where the original boundary was and had the adjustment made to bring the boundary closer to what it had been. Because of that they gave him a name. Be careful though he cusses and is very opinionated.
    • The road in front of the Twin Rocks Cafe used to be the main road until they built 191 through the town.
    • I don’t like have to haul our sewage out.
    • There used to be a bridge to leading from the Navajo Nation to Bluff
    • Grandmother Saw the Pioneers come into the area with their wagons. Grandmother had tons of stories.
    • She has loads of stories and loves to tell them.

Interview with Mr. Simpson: ()
Owner of Twin Rocks Cafe

  • Comments:
    • “It's a mess we already have to haul our sewage.”
    • "I don’t want McDonald's on the corner, but I'd like to know a little more about sewer systems.”
    • He wants to be careful with sewers not just to protect his business but the town
    • He was born in Bluff but moved to Blanding because it is a better place to raise his kids and for his family. “We moved to Blanding for our children.”
  • Steve Simpson:
    • Involved in the Political side of Bluff
    • Served on the State and County Water Board
    • Served on the Service District and the Health Care Board
    • Also an Attorney

General Notes:

  • Night Sky Festival
    • Spring Festival
    • Fall Festival
    • Petroglyphs representing the Night Sky
    • Dark Sky Initiative relationship
    • Night Sky Viewing (Night Services for the festival)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Final Town Precedent Examples

The reason we use precedents in planning is because we want to know if what we are trying or attempting to try has been done before, and if it has been successful in the process. Ultimately we want to find things similar to what we are studying in order to have a better idea of potential outcomes to the solutions we are seeking to incorporate.

As we went through this process the precedent group narrowed down our results to nine towns that could be used as precedents for Bluff. Although there are many others I would like to have included in this document only the most refined could be included. Below are the towns that were included:
(See the Matrix below for how Bluff should evaluate these precedents.)
  • Barrow, AK (which I previously discussed and posted information about)
  • Bar Harbor, ME (also previously discussed)
  • Boulder, UT
    • Population: 223
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1958)
    • Location: Near Grand Staircase-Escalante National 
    • Monument
  • Deadwood, SD
    • Population: 1,270
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1876)
    • Location: In the heart of Black Hills National Forest, 
    • and near Custer State Park.
  • Estes Park, CO
    • Population: 5,858
    • Economy: Tourism (Outdoor Recreation)
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1917)
    • Location: Near Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Ketchum, ID
    • Population: 2,680
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1880)
    • Location: Near Sawtooth National Forest
  • Springdale, UT
    • Population: 529
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1959) Mayoral
    • Location: Entrance to Zion National Park
  • Torrey, UT
    • Population: 182

    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1934)

    • Location: Gateway to Capitol Reef National Park
  • Wallace, ID
    • Population: 784
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1800’s)
    • Location: Near Coeur d’Alene National Forest
Each of these precedents were chosen for their unique qualities and how they could be observed to help Bluff further their asperations. In addition I created this precedent matrix in order to help make our document more reader friendly and easier to interpret for the town of Bluff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Dark Sky Initiative

I started the Dark Sky research and probably put in 10 - 15 hours searching through ordinances and trying to better understand Bluff's capability for Dark Sky, what they would achieve by doing it, and general ordinance information. Below is a small portion of what I was able to find.

Bluff’s Dark Sky Capability:

  • Retention of Community Character
  • Residents want dark skies
  • Still in a place that lighting can be controlled and curbed
  • Petroglyphs that are sky related
  • Huge participation in tribal nations
  • Amenity West Community
  • Promote dark skies at the arts festival and other festivals
  • House of the Moon on Cedar Mesa

Ordinance Information:

  • Lighting
    • Type
      • Externally illuminated signs (ban on internally illuminated)
      • Down lit and back lit signs
      • Blue spectrum
      • *Look at Ketchum ordinance - fully shielded, downward directed, blue spectrum
    • Location
      • Residential
      • Governmental
      • Commercial
    • Reuse automobile pieces and scraps for lighting fixtures
  • Promote externally illuminated down lit and back lit signs, and use the words community character to help associate the lighting with the character of the place. (see Sabastisopal, CA and Golita CA)
  • AMA blue spectrum street lighting - Street lighting has to be a certain kind
  • Reasons for Ordinance
    • Economic Development - in family friendly manner
    • Retention of Community Character
    • Dark Skies for our children and our children’s children
    • Private Property Rights - Light Trespassing 
City Codes:

  • Go Beyond the Ogden Model
  • Summerland, CA
  • East Hampton Long Island
  • Sabastopal, CA
  • Golita, CA
  • Sedona - Sedona potentially did right what Moab missed on the lighting aspect

 Things To Consider:

  • Wildlife
  • Identify businesses in Bluff that already have dark sky lighting
  • Light trespassing
  • Bears Ears biggest national monument larger than Rhode Island
  • Astro Tourism Dollars
  • Colorado Dark Sky Cooperative - Astro Tourism dollars increase because it adds a night stay and a crowd shift to night time - see Fort Collins
  • Dark Sky Initiative Ordinance Guidelines - Historic, Golden, and Test Case they want to take it to other communities
  • What communities currently have a ban on  internally illuminated signs?

Dark Sky Initiative Locations:

  • Grand Canyon
  • Capitol Reef?
  • Hovenweep National Monument?
  • Natural Bridges National Monument?
  • Canyonlands National Park?
  • Dead Horse Point State Park?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Town Precedents for Bluff

After spending a few weeks researching towns that could serve as precedents for Bluff I was joined by four other to form the precedent group. In the preliminary research I did I compiled a list of over 50 towns that could potentially be considered in this process. Of those towns we each selected four that could be used for the final Bluff document. Below are the four towns I carefully selected to serve as precedents for Bluff.

Bar Harbor, Maine

  • Settled in 1763 (by Europeans)
  • Population of 5,264 in 2014
  • Close to several State and National Parks 
  • Large range of attractions (Biking, Hiking, Kayaking, Mountain Climbing, Nature Cruise, Shelling, Lighthouses, Whale Seal and Bird Watching, & Parks)
  • Tourism based economy

Bar Harbor vs Bluff

  • Strong tourism element to economy
  • Similar school structure
  • Students bussed/shipped in from surrounding towns
  • Dark Sky Initiative
  • Native American Historical Influence

Barrow, Alaska

  • Settled in 1825 (by Europeans 500 AD by Inuit Group)
  • Population of 4,384 in 2013
  • Host of Several Festivals (Kivgiq, Piuraagiaqta, Nalukataq, Whaling, & Qitik)
  • Unpaved roads and based on the Septic System
  • Oil operations and Tourism based economy

Barrow vs Bluff

  • Septic Tank Based Infrastructure
  • Seeking to incorporate the Dark Sky Initiative
  • Tourism economy based on Festivals
  • Historical foundation in very similar time periods

Dorset, Minnesota

  • Settled in 1898
  • Population of 22 in 2010
  • Unincorporated community
  • Booming Tourism Based Economy
  • Services supported by County

Dorset vs Bluff

  • Strong tourism element to economy
  • Tourism drawn in by uniqueness
  • Similar community make up
  • Stores and Shops run by Locals
  • Outdoor Activities (Biking Tours)

Medora, North Dakota

  • Settled in 1883
  • Population of 112 in 2010
  • Close to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Incorporated despite size
  • Historic Town

Medora vs Bluff

  • Strong tourism element to economy
  • Historic Sites, Events, and Festivals
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Very Similar town structure & Community Make up (Lodging, Services, Relationship to National Parks)
  • Stores and Shops run by Locals

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bluff and Hozho

In doing research on Bluff, one particular term continued to pop up, and that term was Hozho.

Hozho: "The Navajo Concept of Balance and Beauty." "Consideration of the nature of the universe, the world, man, the nature of time and space, creation, growth, motion, order, control, and the life cycle…..expressed in terms quite impossible to translate into English." (

Several of the survey responses had people sharing this concept and others expounded on it by stating ideas like: “Bluff is a feeling.”

On my visit to Bluff I would have to agree. It was a feeling. Entering Bluff through the red rock canyon was an exciting experience. They are securely nestled into a beautiful valley of great history, and when you visit Bluff you get that feeling. It comes from being there and interacting with the people.

You feel one with the land and sky, the river and the wind, and the people. Its peaceful and simple there and a place that allows you to contemplate what is most important to you.

This is what I think of when I saw Bluff and Hozho comming up almost as synonyms.

The site also mentioned that "Hozho is said to be the most important word in the Navajo language and is loosely translated as peace, balance, beauty and harmony.  To be “in Hozho” is to be at one with and a part of the world around you."

I think we all could use a little more of the feeling of Hozho in our lives.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Listening to Bluff - Mission Statement

In class last week Professor Goldsmith asked the class who would take charge of the mission statement. After a long pause and the lack of volunteers I raised my hand wanting to try and help shape the work in which our class will be embarking.

After much thought I came up with:  
"Our desire is to listen and seek to understand the character, values, and feelings of Bluff to help Bluff further shape its goals and future as a growing community."

Although that isn't the final version of our mission statement I used each word with a purpose.
  • Our desire - It was suggested that we use goal instead. I didn't use goal as it seemed too generic and meaningless. I used desire because it seemed to show passion, drive, and willingness.
  • listen and seek to understand - Listening to Bluff is the name of the document so using "listening" in the mission statement seemed fitting. That and it is what we are wanting to accomplish, but even more than just listening we want to understand what we hear in order to best assist the community.
  • character, values, and feelings - These are three very different things and yet values can be derived from character, just as feelings can be derived from values. To continue this thought character can be derived from feelings sustained over a period of time. So each of these pieces help us to understand the present past and future of Bluff's community.
  • help Bluff - I added this because after all we are here to assist or help them in their journey. This is not our own, but we can be there for an outside perspective on Bluff's inside ideals.
  • further shape its goals and future - Documents have already been created to establish a framework of Bluff. Even before the documents Bluff was shaping its own goals and futures, but just as mentioned in the "help Bluff" section we can offer an outside perspective on their inside ideals. What I mean by this is, communities don't often realize what they desire most as a whole until it is discussed and collaborated on by the whole. We are here to help facilitate that process.
  • as a growing community - I feel like people have the tendency to interpret the word grow to mean: become larger or greater over a period of time; increase. In actuality I was seeking to use the word growing to signify a second meaning, which is: to progress to maturity.

    To help further this idea I pose this question: After a person reaches the age of 30 do they not grow any more? The answer to this question, is of course they do. They may not grow in height, but they do grow in mental stability and maturity. That is the reason for why I placed this carefully selected word in the mission statement.
In closing and after a group discussion we agreed upon the following:
  • “Our mission is to work in collaboration with the community; to listen and seek to understand the character, stories, values, and goals guiding the future of Bluff.”
Ultimately it carries the same meaning as above, but in a more unified way. For this purpose the world is run by communities.

Sustainability News

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I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.