Pepperwood Drive Rezone Falls in Emotional Meeting, 4-2
Aug 03, 2016 09:48AM
By Chris Larson
A very full council chamber hears public comment on the Pepperwood Drive rezone application. —Chris Larson.
By Chris Larson | [email protected]
Sandy, Utah - Residents and city officials squared off with raised voices and implications of impropriety over rezoning the vacant lot on 2000 E and Pepperwood Drive, which was denied in a 4-2 vote.
The June 14 Sandy City Council meeting was near capacity with many residents ready to speak against the rezoning application submitted by Ivory Homes of the lot from a Commercial Convenience District to a Planned Unit Development District (8), allowing eight residences per acre.
Public comment opened with a prepared statement from Lori Nelson, a designated representative of the Pepperwood Homeowners Association, who presented the position and legal opinion of the association.
“Why is this being pushed when it has already been turned down twice?” Nelson said after the meeting. “There is no other high density (housing) of this nature anywhere near.”
Comments from there ranged from local history and anecdotes to passionate cases against the rezone to openly questioning whether or not the council served the interests of the neighborhood or of developers.
Primary concerns centered around maintaining the character of the Dimple Dell and Pepperwood area with larger lots and an attempt at a rural feel.
“This is kind of the Field of Dreams problem: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Nelson said. “It will completely change the nature of the neighborhood, absolutely.”
The Ivory Homes rezoning application seeking to create a gated 55-year-old adult, high density development was first heard by the Planning Commission on Sept. 17, 2015 and was ultimately rejected but approved their own proposal for a PUD (4.5), despite a favorable recommendation from the zoning staff.
It is of note that Scott Sabey is the chairman of and Doug Heymore is a member of the Sandy Planning Commission and members of the Pepperwood HOA.
The City Council disregarded the PUD (4.5) recommendation and conditionally approved the original PUD (8) application on Jan 12, 2016 with two major conditions and after several failed votes. One of which was a series of specific design changes; the other was that the Planning Commission give a favorable recommendation to those design changes before a final approval. The Planning Commission again gave an unfavorable recommendation to the application on May 19, 2016.
The June 16 city council meeting was designated as the public comment hearing before a final vote. The rezone application ultimately fell on a 4-2 vote to deny.
Confrontation in the meeting
Several comments were very aggressive asserting that the surrounding residents individually didn’t want the project in their area and that the neighborhood collectively would suffer from increased traffic, devalued properties and a loss of character.
One citizen directly accusing Councilman Chris McCandless of acting in Charles Horman’s (the property owner) financial interest and Councilman Steve Fairbanks of not being impartial due to his relation to Mr. Horman. Fairbanks’ wife is to the Horman family.
“Everybody I talked to sitting in the crowd didn’t think he was impartial,” Pepperwood resident Ron Edwards said to the council. “They thought he was in on the take.”
Mayor Tom Dolan was having none of that.
Dolan, who only occasionally comments in council meetings, intensely called Edwards comments towards the council “inappropriate.”
“It’s inappropriate to come before an elected body and say those things when they are here to serve,” Dolan shouted.
Edwards then traded barbs with Dolan and Chairwoman Kris Coleman-Nicholl over the no clapping procedure of the council meetings constitutionality, while police were called for.
When Edwards took his seat, Dolan continued his harangue:
“I’m tired of listening to this. They are trying to listen to you and they are trying to make a decision on something they have to listen to and make a decision on. I don’t know what their decision is going to be. But, don’t be insulting. You think that gets you anywhere? Don’t be insulting. Be respectful. They’re respecting you to listen.”
A crowd-member pointed out that Edwards was the only directly accusatory commenter. But, Dolan noted several snide comments over the intentions of the council and of Ivory Homes.
Previous city council minutes show that Fairbanks did repeatedly make motions to vote on Ivory Homes’ application in the Jan. 12 council meeting in spite of the council voting it negatively on the application six times before several conditions were applied to the preliminary approval. It was earlier in this meeting that he said his relation to Mr. Horman would not affect his objectivity.
This isn’t the first time since the Jan. 12 meeting Fairbank’s objectivity was questioned.
Fairbanks actions were also questioned on May 17 when Pepperwood Drive resident Sherry Strickler said during citizen’s comment that “there was nothing fair about Mr. Fairbanks steamrolling the council until he got the vote he wanted.”
“I don’t mind telling you I’m a little offended by people who have never talked to me about this issue at all but, becuase I decide to marry a woman related to (Charles Horman) that somehow I am a dishonest and devious individual,” Fairbanks said. “Shame on you.”
He continued saying that he thought the project would be good for the neighborhood and there was market demand for the project.
Councilwoman Linda Martinez Saville recused herself from participating in the proceeding “(b)ecause of (her) personal interest with both parties,” but could be seen standing behind one of the projection screen in the council chamber.
Councilwoman Maren Barker considered recusing herself because Nelson helped as an attorney in her parents’ divorce several years ago. She did not recuse after disclosing and discussing it with the council.
Another one bites the dust…
The council handed down two undesirable zoning outcomes to Ivory Homes applications in the Dimple Dell Park area in as many weeks.
A week before, a denied rezone application last year that culminated in an overlay zone restricting new development on lots along the the edge of Dimple Dell Park to homes on a minimum of half-acre lots with additional restrictions on top of the established zone in the June 9 council meeting.
An option for cluster housing option on property above the rim of the park on the condition that a certain percentage of property extending into the park be given to the city was discussed but ultimately disregarded by the council, despite Ivory Homes’ willingness to participate in that option. λ