Rezone for ‘nonconforming residential’ property back on the tableMay 10, 2021 11:07AM ● By Erin Dixon
Local resident Michael Densley shares the conditions the neighbors would like to see changed on the development before they would support the zone change. (screenshot)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
Midvale staff recommended a rezone for approval in April, but Midvale City Council and residents did not agree.
The land in question lies at 7488 S. Casa Blanca Dr. The property is left over from a rezone in the 1980s; a large single residence built on commercial land. Today it is embedded between commercial, high density and some smaller lot single-family homes.
“This piece has seen nonconforming residential use for 40-plus years,” Alex Murphy, Midvale city planner said. “We’re not rezoning any of the existing neighborhoods....We’re trying to deal with this one remainder piece that’s been left alone for decades….”
This same piece of land was brought to council last year.
“Last May and June nearly my entire neighborhood stood in opposition to a proposed rezone,” resident Michael Densley said. “You, the city council, listened to our concerns and voted down the proposal unanimously. I still have concerns.”
“This time we have less information and are told that these drawings are not final and will change,” he said.
“I am the engineer for the project,” Sattar Tabriz said. “A project similar to this may be built. It may be two stories, not three because of the cost but we’re definitely looking at a 12-unit condominium project.”
“We were here six or seven months ago, we listened carefully to the citizens of Midvale,” Tabriz said. “We’re actually downzoning; this is a commercial zone.”
Even with changes, some neighbors are distrustful.
“The city council instructed the developer to meet with the neighborhood and to talk with us. They never followed your instructions,” Densely said.
Forty neighboring residents signed a petition drafted by Densley asking for these changes: A wall should be constructed to block access to the existing neighborhood; proof that UDOT has approved redesign for a driveway onto 900 East; and trash and hydrants are moved to a different part of the property.
“How do you meet with COVID?” Tabriz asked. “We’ve delivered on every aspect from the previous issues. We are OK with being held to all those conditions. We can meet any condition your planning department can live with.”
Even with a 40-signature petition, some residents were in favor of the project.
“I am in favor of the rezoning,” Linda Wills said. “Since this property is located between a large apartment complex and a neighborhood it seems logical…as a blend.”
“Some neighbors have been concerned that visitors will park on the street and walk over to the townhomes. Everyone in the neighborhood has their visitors park on the street. Some of them have their own cars on the street every day so it seems a little hypocritical to stop this development based on something that everyone does,” Wills said.
In the end, the request was tabled because of the lack of communication between the developer and the residents and to give the developer time to make a final plan.
“Right now I’m not willing because I don’t know what we’re going to get,” Councilmember Paul Glover said. “If we change the zoning he could turn around and sell it and we could get something really horrendous.”
“When this came up before, we were encouraging the developer to meet with the owners to talk about some of these things. I know they took some of the public comments and incorporated those things but there was no meeting,” Councilmember Quinn Sperry said.
“We’re looking at the agenda items later on with the developer that’s been working for 18 months or so and has been working with neighbors outside the council meetings….”
One of the requested changes, sealing off the sidewalk entrance from the condos to the existing neighborhood, goes against what the city has in its master plan.
“Our general plan really pushes us to have trails and connections through neighborhoods,” city planner Murphy said. “Fencing off that access might be possible, but it might be stymieing what the general plan and zoning is calling for.”
Councilmember Bryant Brown has had bad experience with higher density being accessible from low density streets.
“I understand the connection looks good on paper...but all it is is facilitating parking for density,” Brown said.
Residents are well aware of higher housing prices and the need for more housing options. An increase in density was something that was agreed on by some residents and council.
“There was a report that came out that normally on the Wasatch Front there’s like 20,000 units for sale at any given time and last weekend there were 1,100,” Brown said. “Any time we can inject new construction that’s for sale I’m typically for it.”
“I think the city needs to take a proactive stance to make sure that when we say we want to balance the affordable housing we do it,” resident Sophia Hawes-Tingey said. “We have a lot of homeless people because the gap is increasing between who can afford a house and who can’t because the cost of housing will continue to skyrocket.”