Farr West election concerns: economic growth and rural atmosphere

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:48 PM

Randi Weston, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

FARR WEST — A primary concern for the two mayoral candidates and four city council candidates in the upcoming municipal election is maintaining a rural atmosphere in this city while encouraging economic growth.

The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Z. Lee Dickemore, a retired educator and the incumbent mayor, said if he is re-elected he hopes to encourage development on 2700 North. Dickemore said he feels it’s important to invite strong economic development into the city while adhering to Farr West’s master plan.

Dickemore’s other areas of concern are building a bridge across Willard Bay Canal and a sidewalk to Walquist Junior High to enable kids to get to school safely, developing more parks, and supporting Farr West’s active recreation program. Dickemore believes a recently hired grant writer will allow the city to pursue more resources to meet these goals.

Dickemore’s challenger, Ken Phippen, serves as the city’s web administrator and has served on the planning commission for more than three years. Phippen believes open spaces should be given higher priority in development plans.

“I believe that it is possible to balance smart growth with the preservation of open spaces,” Phippen said. “We can encourage developers to design and incorporate open space into their proposals as opposed to squeezing as many 1/3-acre lots into a development as possible.”

Phippen also advocates fiscal restraint, increasing land owners’ rights, making high speed broadband a vital infrastructure element, and increasing government transparency, noting that, “There should be few if any ‘special’ meetings held at different times & dates. It has the same net effect as holding closed meetings. ‘Closed’ meetings should never happen unless required by law.”

Incumbent council members Boyd Ferrin and Michael R. Grange both hope to maintain Farr West’s rural character while attracting business development to increase the city’s tax base.

“I moved to Farr West because of the rural atmosphere, and I would like to see that rural atmosphere maintained, but also look at providing a strong tax base through commercial businesses,” Ferrin said. “I would like to see a well-developed plan for 1900 West, as it stretches from north to south through our community.”

Grange, a council member for eight years, said he also hopes to, “Promote development that is not detrimental to citizens. Improve safety and availability of resources for those in need. Encourage a plan to build an effective infrastructure while adhering to a budget and be the voice of the citizens.”

Grange said fiscal responsibility is of particular importance this election cycle as Farr West residents have recently experienced a large tax hike.

Matt Gwynn, a military and law enforcement veteran and member of the city’s planning commission, said this tax hike is due to changes in law enforcement costs and believes his experience will help the city accurately evaluate such costs in the future.

“This drastic increase in law enforcement cost is the result of Farr West public safety no longer being subsidized by larger Weber County cities that have police departments of their own. I will bring credible debate and negotiation while discussing the police services contract between the Weber County Sheriff’s Office and Farr West City,” Gwynn said.

Gwynn plans to update city code so it can be effectively enforced. He said Farr West needs a code enforcement officer, whether it is a current employee with new assigned duties or a new hire.

Gwynn also believes Farr West has some hard choices to make when it comes to economic development. Gwynn believes if Farr West clings too hard to its rural atmosphere, surrounding communities will continue to develop around the city and Farr West citizens will be forced to spend their money outside their community.

Council candidate Timothy Shupe was unavailable for comment prior to publication.

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