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The City Journals

Residents Rabble-Rouse Regarding Rezoning

Sep 01, 2015 06:34PM ● By Rachel Hall

Cottonwood Heights Planning Commission Chair Paxton Guymon said that opinions given over a “zone creep” were “well-informed” and others weren’t. Photo courtesy York Howell

By Rhett Wilkinson

Ten persons spoke against a “zone creep” at the northeast slope above North Little Cottonwood Canyon Road Sept. 2 at a routine planning commission meeting. One – the applicant who made the rezoning request – spoke in favor.

Advocates at the public hearing, where news cameras were flashing, were among nearly three dozen attendees.

The planning commission will make a recommendation to the city council in October, Chair Paxton Guymon said. One PC meeting, on Oct. 7, is listed on the City of Cottonwood Heights website.

“A lot of people have strong feelings about development up the canyon,” Guymon said. "Some were well-informed, some were not.”

Guymon said that in his experience, more persons will oppose an affair in a planning commission meeting.

“It’s human nature to tend to speak up,” he said. “Then there are those who don’t object or don’t care either way.”

ROLA V, Ltd. made rezoning requests with respect to the properties located on the northeast slope above North Little Cottonwood Canyon Road. The proposal is for a half-acre. LC Canyon Partners has made a similar request.

Guymon said that one should balance citizens’ opposition with the “right” to use and develop property. As he points out often, citizens should make the same advocacy to the city council since they make a final decision on affairs like rezoning requests, Guymon said.

“There are multiple layers to this process,” he said.

Representatives from the Citizens Committee to Save Our Canyons and the Granite Community Council were among those who spoke. The applicant was Susan Despain, a ROLA V registered agent. Other anti-rezoning advocates included Lois Peterson, Mary Hood, Richard Schutt, Greg Smith, Nancy Hardy and Jill McKee.

Before the meeting, the GCC pushed back against the request, calling it “zone creep.” It wrote a letter to Cottonwood Heights City opposing the request.  

The zone creep is predicated upon extreme density change, the number of higher density rezoning requests in the area that were previously approved by the cities of Cottonwood Heights and Sandy City, and that the properties in question would be directly impacted by the Wasatch fault line, among other reasons, the GCC said.

The PC will give weight to the city’s planning staff before making a recommendation, Guymon said.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said that the GCC is “entitled to their opinion,” questioning whether zone creep is a “bad thing.”

“We respect their right to weigh in on a position, even though it’s not their geographical purview,” he said.

GCC Chair Mary Young said she worries that cities allow developments that are “improper or dangerous."

"You need to have a balance,” Young said. “Once you’ve screwed with the environment, there’s no going back.”

The Granite Community Council consists of volunteers elected by city residents, Young said.