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The City Journals

Holladay Town Hall Well Attended

Jun 08, 2016 11:19AM ● By Carol Hendrycks

By Carol Hendrycks | [email protected]

Holladay - On May 11, Councilmembers Pat Pignanelli of District 3 and Mark Stewart of District 5 hosted a town hall meeting in the Little Cottonwood Room at Holladay City Hall. Close to 75 Holladay residents turned out to hear and exchange concerns and ideas about our community. 

Mayor Rob Dahle opened with a warm welcome and fielded questions with the majority of the conversation focused on the latest Cottonwood Mall development. As noted in other recent town hall meetings and in recent issues of the Journal both this year and last, the original, much larger mixed-use Cottonwood plan will not be carried out. Future development, however, may include a Smith’s grocery store, other retail uses, restaurants and service uses and a significant residential housing component by Ivory Homes. Dahle said that for several reasons, including a major increase in online shopping, there is not the demand for retail space like there was 10 years ago. Like most Holladay residents, the city council and mayor are frustrated by this situation but will continue to work diligently to make sure future development of this site is both what the city wants and needs. 

Stewart graciously fielded questions regarding the destruction of large trees. Holladay is well known for its beautiful canopy of trees, creeks, canals, irrigation ditches and large estate lots. Sometimes, large beautiful older trees have to come down because they have rotted from the inside out. However, at other times trees are destroyed on private properties to make way for new development. Stewart urged residents to carefully consider how they can develop their property and still preserve, to the extent possible, valuable tree resources not only on their own land, but in the community as a whole. Recently, two visible examples of large-scale tree destruction resulted in letters being sent by the city to alarmed neighboring residents explaining the reasons for the tree removal and that the city is working on new innovative policies and ordinances that may result in fewer instances of wanton tree destruction. Generally speaking, the city has limited control over trees on private property except when those trees are near creeks and streams and canals and when their removal is prohibited by law. 

Another topic was the lack of water during the last few years in the Tanner Ditch. Stewart explained there has been too little snow runoff in the past years to allow excess water to be diverted to the ditch, resulting in harm to old trees. This year, with more water available to the system, irrigation water has been allowed to run in the ditch. Unfortunately, water in the ditch this year has resulted in the unexpected flooding in two homes along the ditch. 

Another area of concern was fire safety. Some of the lowest water pressure is found in areas of the city where trees and homes are the largest, and width of emergency access roads is smallest. This is true in the Walker Lane area where many private lanes and driveways are long, narrow and winding, making it hard for emergency vehicles to come and go. Holladay is considered a 5 on a scale of 1-12 (12 being the highest) as an at-risk fire area. Due to large areas of significant tree canopy, Holladay has many available fuels, including dead fall, to feed potentially disastrous fires. Holladay continues to work with the state to help them understand the water line situation, educate property owners to eradicate fuels and work with public utilities to minimize fire danger. In the event of a major wildfire in Holladay, necessary aerial fire suppression access and support would need to be called in to control it. Also, Randy Fitts, Holladay city manager, reminded everyone to check the city’s website,, for firework restrictions to help minimize fire risks this summer. 

Stewart also addressed the attendees’ concerns regarding group homes, also known as facilities for people with disabilities who are protected by federal law. There are two such licensed facilities in Holladay at the moment. The city may not prohibit these facilities in any area zoned for residential use. Currently Holladay ordinances limit the size of these types of facilities serving people with disabilities to no more than six people. However, the operator of this kind of use may submit a request to allow the city to house or treat more than six occupants through a “reasonable accommodation” request to the Holladay city manager. The city can regulate some aspects of a group home such as building height, setbacks from abutting property lines, minimum parking requirements and minimum landscaping areas, according to Paul Allred, Holladay community development director. Utah has its own regulations it imposes on group homes, as well. The level of care plays into the equation, too. 

Other interesting topics that were discussed were short-term rentals such as AirBnB, or a “ski rental,” where people contract to stay in a private residence instead of a legitimate hotel/motel. Short-term rentals are not permitted in Holladay except as specifically allowed by law, such as hotels and bed and breakfast operations. The city is becoming more aware of the offering of homes for these kinds of short-term rentals and will be forced to address them though increased zoning enforcement as this relatively new hospitality trend increases in Holladay. Allred suggested residents contact his office to help regulate this type of rental where they are aware of it. 

A new charter school called Wasatch Waldorf School (K-8 grades) is being built next to Creekside Park on Murray Holladay Road, bringing out concerns about the trees along the creek, traffic control and zoning. Allred and neighbors agreed that the developer has had good open discussion about the development and continues to comply with the city of Holladay to date. 

Regarding the Highland Drive/Van Winkle Intersection study, residents have been very involved and have voiced concerns in two public open houses, with another open house to come on May 24 regarding economic development, land use and transportation factors in this area. So far, five scenarios have been developed as potential models to change the intersection are. The scenarios are already available for review.

Regarding derelict properties and getting the city’s attention on keeping those properties clean and safe, Allred personally asked residents to call his department to report problem properties; the department will continue to pursue other avenues to get more satisfactory compliance to city ordinance. 

City roads and street deteriorations were addressed by Fitts, and Tosh Kano, public works director, said that road funding is limited and they are working to fill holes and work on areas the best the city can. He reminded residents that snow removal was costly this year, which takes money away from road repairs. The city is aware of the problem and is working their best to repair as resources become available.

 Pignanelli closed the meeting with a humorous note about a “city run by rumors.” She was, of course, quick note this city council works to be responsive and give transparency to the residents by having regular city council, planning and town hall meetings for public comment. She mentioned she heard that speed limits would increase on Spring Lane and immediately said that this is truly a rumor. She appreciated the volunteers that attended, especially those involved in emergency preparedness. She also reminded residents to attend the Learn to Live Lecture Series about how to keep you and your family happy and healthy. 

Pignanelli also received kudos from an audience member regarding the food truck implementation and how that was a great addition to Holladay. And one final rumor mentioned was about Harmon’s coming to the area, which was neither denied confirmed.

 Residents were urged and reminded to contact the city of Holladay about any concerns or to report problems. Call the city directory or use the contact form located on the city of Holladay website.