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Residents Concerned About Rezoning Amendment

Jun 29, 2016 08:50AM ● Published by Cassie Goff

“These are beautiful pieces of property. In some ways, they have been used to the public benefit despite them being private properties,” Mike Shelton said.

By Cassandra Goff | cassie@mycityjournals.com

Cottonwood Heights

The Cottonwood Heights City Council and Planning Commission meetings have been filled with rezoning discussion for the past few months. Two properties around the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon requested a rezone so they can begin development.

The first property, located at 9361 South North Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, referred to as the Kesler property, requested a “General Plan Amendment to Rural Residential and Rezone of 15 acres from F-20 to RR-1-21.”

The second property, located at 3801 East North Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, referred to as the Rola property, requested for a “General Plan Amendment to Rural Residential and Rezone of 11.54 acres from F-20 to RR-1-21.”

These properties were annexed into the city last year. With the annex, the zoning of the properties was not properly labeled. The property owners would like to begin development, which requires a zone change.

Many residents were concerned about the rezoning. The concerns involved traffic easement, protection of the canyons, consistency with the city’s general plan and preservation.

Lynne Kraus, Cottonwood Heights resident, revealed her concerns during a planning commission meeting on March 2. “She read from page 14 in the general plan, which states that, ‘The city is proud of its stunning backdrop and hopes to preserve view sheds, hillsides, and enhance connections between the city and the canyons.’’”

 She continued, “The citizens are not opposed to development but would like to see controlled development, less density and lower building heights.”

 Michael Braun, representative from the Granite Community Council, stated that the “Granite Community Council is very interested in this matter.”

“The owners of property in Cottonwood Heights in the general area all knew about the general plan and purchased their homes there because of open space,” Braun said.

 Nancy Hardy, concerned resident, spoke at many of the city council meetings. “I went through the packet with all the letters [from concerned residents] today. There were quite a few from Sandy and Granite; some from Holladay, Riverton, Park City, Brighton and Woods Cross. This reaches much farther than just Cottonwood Heights. It affects more people than just the residents.”

“There is an obligation to protect the forest land,” Hardy continued. “Making this change is not something that the city should be proud of.”

Kraus spoke once more during a city council meeting on May 24. “One of the reasons we incorporated was so citizens could have input on land use issues.”

On May 24, the city council voted on the ordinances that either approved or denied a re-drafted agreement concerning the rezoning. The new agreement was drafted between the property owners and the city’s planning department, requiring certain restrictions on development.

Prior to this meeting, city council members read over 130 letters from residents explaining their concerns. The council members also requested recordings of the planning commission meetings “to hear firsthand what the planning commission does,” Tee Tyler, council member for District 4, said.

Each member of the council commented before voting.

“As a council we spent hours reading the texts, messages and letters that have been received by the planning department of this city. We need to mention how difficult it has been and how involved the planning commission has been with this decision,” Tyler said.

The new agreement “takes more than half of the property into a conservation easement — more than half of the property will be left as is. It makes this as positive as a potential project as can be. Even though we may rezone these tonight, we still have to see if anything gets built there, water and UDOT will have to weigh in, which they have yet to do,” Tyler said.

Mike Peterson, council member for District 3, added, “When this issue first came to light in the council, I immediately thought I would be opposed. I took the opportunity to walk the site and look at the surrounding developments. I’ve spent many hours listening to audiotapes and have read many letters that were sent to the planning commission. About 90 percent were opposed. That influenced me to a degree.”

Mike Shelton, council member for District 1, said, “I first want to express appreciation to those who have cared about this issue. I apologize if there was any sense that there was no concern to those people who spent time and expressed their point of view. These are beautiful pieces of property. In some ways they have been used to the public benefit despite the fact they are private properties. A serious concern is the property rights of people who own private land.”

Scott Bracken, council member for District 2, said, “I agree that the conservation easement is a very good thing. This will not just be a blanket zoning as originally proposed. There is a lot of good we can do that balances the property owners’ needs and welfare of the city in general.”

Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore was the last to give comments. “Our job is to take into account legal considerations and to balance rights of property owners and the general plan of the city, with expectations of the city. This proposal ends up being consistent with that; the reality is the development agreement, as it sits, limits development under two per acre. We preserved the majority of the property, eliminated PUDs (Planned Unit Development), eliminated 30 percent bonuses so the trails may be better served. This disregards the fact that it’s private property to begin with. There has been the ability to work out with the property owners’ trails and access benefit to the community. I do believe it is consistent with our general plan. It moves the whole development down off hill and preserves it.”

On May 24, during the 7 p.m. Cottonwood Heights City Council Business Meeting, the council unanimously approved Ordinance No. 254-A, “Approving a General Plan Amendment, Zone Map Amendment and Development Agreement” on approximately 15 acres of land located at 9361 South North Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (Grant Kesler).

The council also voted on Ordinace No. 255-A, “Approving a General Plan Amendment, Zone Map Amendment and Development Agreement” on approximately 11.54 acres of land located at 3801 East North Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, (Rola V, LLC).  

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