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Second attempt for townhomes on Highland Drive flops

Oct 31, 2017 01:28PM ● Published by Aspen Perry

Partially gated off lot to remain as is for now. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

Gallery: Highland Drive [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

When the property owners of the 1.21-acre lot located at 5025 S. Highland Dr. requested to change their property from segment B to segment A, they were denied. So they applied for a rezone of their property within segment B in an effort to build their 16-unit residential development requiring an RM (residential multi-family) zoning. 

Paul Allred, community development director for Holladay City, reported the planning commission’s recommendations to city council members during the Oct. 5 council meeting. 

“The planning commission voted five to one to recommend the rezone of the property,” Allred told council members. 

Allred then provided a brief history for council members, saying the property had originally been zoned RM and was rezoned to NC (neighborhood commercial) in recent years to accommodate the Roots Garden business. 

Allred said the majority of the planning commission was impressed with the property owners’ community outreach and with their ability to gain support of neighboring residents.

During the council meeting, District 5 Councilman Mark Stewart asked about the opposing voter’s thoughts. 

To this Allred explained that Commissioner Marianne Ricks was not in favor due to her a strong preference for residential business growth along Highland Drive. She also expressed concern regarding inconsistency, given the council’s recent decision to reduce density with the R2 moratorium. 

“(Ricks) has been a strong proponent for limiting density on Highland Drive,” Allred said. 

The other planning commissioners were swayed when presented with neighboring residents who were in favor of having a residential development. However, two residents spoke during the council meeting to express their opposition to the 16-unit development, although they were not opposed to residential use occupying the lot. 

Ann Pearce, Arbor Lane resident in favor of the development, addressed the council on Oct. 5. “I hate to disagree with my neighbor and friend, but we are so in favor of this. We have lived through the nightclubs at the mall. You’ve got to do something to make it viable.”

Directly following these comments, Pearce revealed her fear of having a fast food establishment occupy the lot near her property, and the unpleasant smells and traffic such a business would bring. 

As previously reported in the August issue of Holladay City Journals,  the property owners continued to voice concern regarding the difficulties in renting the property to small businesses, as they did during the initial request to amend the Highland Drive master plan.

“We have put a lot of time and effort into the best use for this particular location. We feel as we’ve surveyed Holladay, the large vacancy with commercial. it just seems to illustrate the need for more residents,” Steve Breitling, property co-owner, said in his address to the council. 

District 1 councilwoman Sabrina Petersen conveyed her concern that residents in favor were sold on the belief that the property would become something they feared more, reflecting the fears Pearce brought up. Furthermore, the survey documents provided by the property owners were one-sided, only showing those in favor. 

Breitling addressed this concern when he said, “Prior to us (attempting the rezone), we sent out information with a letter from me with my contact number and it specifically asked for a vote in favor or opposition, which was to be sent directly to your offices here...We’ve tried to be fair and transparent.” 

The discussion between council members continued on Oct. 12 when Petersen and District 2 council rep Lynn Pace delved into the text of the master plan, segment B in an effort to make the decision based on following a consistent pattern. 

In the end, the motion to rezone was denied three to two. Council members who opposed the project shared similar sentiments of the neighbors who raised concern during council meetings. Despite not being opposed to residential use of the lot, in the end they felt the level of density being requested was too inconsistent to align with the decision to reduce density on Highland Drive. 

To review council discussion on Oct. 12 or any other evening dating back to January 2017, residents can listen in at http://mixlr.com/cityofholladay/showreel/ .

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