Merit Medical plans to expand with rezone
Dec 02, 2016 03:31PM
● By Briana Kelley
Residents turn out on Oct.18 to voice their opinions. Merit Medical proposed to rezone property in order to build a research and development facility in South Jordan. (Briana Kelley/City Journals)
Merit Medical plans to expand with rezone [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
By Briana Kelley | [email protected]
Merit Medical is set to expand following the unanimous approval to rezone property near the company’s South Jordan location. Residents, employees and Merit Medical representatives attended a packed city council meeting on Oct. 18 to voice their opinion on the rezone.
“I don’t think this was an easy decision for our council— I really don’t,” Mayor David Alvord said. “This is a section of land that has been traditionally zoned residential. I personally took the position that it should remain zoned residential for many weeks, and so this is one of these things that, if you are sitting in our chairs, it’s a tough call because they’re both good uses of the land.”
The proposal to rezone the 6.3 acres at 1538 West Shields Lane from low-density residential to office use initially came before the planning commission in August, though plans to do so were discussed years ago according to the applicant.
The planning commission recommended it be denied due to concerns about building height, buffering, light pollution, traffic and the surrounding residential zoning. During the public hearing, the applicant listed the changes they had since made to address those concerns.
Changes include decreasing the building height from 35 feet to 24 feet, centering the building on the property to provide a buffer for residents, constructing an access tunnel for employees and residents to cross the street and ensuring a LEED-certified building to decrease light pollution.
“We’ve done a lot of work, and we’ve made a great effort. It’s not finished. We are willing to have continued conversations about things that can be done to help offset concerns of the neighbors,” Fred Lampropoulos, founder, chairman and CEO of Merit Medical, said.
Individuals for and against the rezone stood and addressed the council for three hours, listing pros and cons about the project.
Those in favor included the South Jordan Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Utah’s Taxpayer Association, Utah Manufacturer’s Association and others.
Those who spoke in favor were largely Merit Medical employees who admire the company and hope to see it expand. The proposed research and development building that would be constructed on the re-zoned property would provide an estimated 200 jobs and internships as well as increase efficiency and centralization for the company.
City officials noted that Merit Medical has been a good corporate resident, and the architects of the project have been extremely willing to work with residents to provide a building that is both good for the environment and good for the community.
“It’s going to provide 200 engineering jobs and other jobs, of course,” Lampropoulos said. “It’s going to help make available jobs for our kids, help our kids to go to school, to have internships. There are lots of pieces to this that help the community in the long run. I think—and hopefully neighbors will see—we’ll prove our good intents. We’ll prove our good works. We want, I want to do things as best as I can, and I am committed to do that.”
Those against the rezone were largely residents who own homes on the surrounding property. Residents were primarily concerned with placing a commercial office building in an area surrounded by residential and the effects this could have on their property values. Over 100 residents signed a petition against the rezone, stating:
“We strongly oppose rezoning from residential to commercial/professional office buildings. The applicant has a sizeable piece of property on the west side of Redwood Road and Shields Lane that is already zoned commercial. We encourage responsible growth that will maintain the standards that we are accustomed to and value in South Jordan. Building commercial and professional office buildings in the middle of neighborhoods does not accomplish that standard.”
Many stressed that changing the zoning deviates from the city’s Master Plan and puts current homeowners in a challenging situation.
“I hope this isn’t about rewarding Merit for the wonderful things that they do,” Perry Morris, a resident, said. “This zoning change is not part of the master plan, and there was no plan to do so. Zoning expectations and the city plan are something that citizens look at, and we don’t wish to be negatively affected by this change in zoning.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the rezone despite resident concerns. Council members commented on the positive changes Merit Medical had made since August and voiced their support for the project. They also offered their opinion that they believed property values would not be negatively affected.
“I am honestly looking out for your interest here, and this project as it appears now is better than other foreseeable alternatives,” Councilmember Patrick Harris said. “The reality is that they [the property owners] have the right to apply for a rezone, and if you get three council members to agree, you could have something far worse than what you have here today.”
Lampropoulos was grateful for the input on both sides and stressed his commitment to continue listening to concerns and working with residents. Though the land is now rezoned, the project is three to five years out.
“I’m heartbroken in some ways because I don’t ever like to disappoint anybody,” Lampropoulos said. “And so I think the real task is for me to make sure that I exceed the expectations of the neighbors. One of the things that I’ve committed to is that I am going to form a council of those neighbors who want to be involved to talk about it and to make sure that we don’t just put up some trees. We’ll talk about what those trees ought to be. We’ll talk about the landscaping. We’ll talk about these things and get them involved if they want to be. That’s critical for me, and I hope that they’ll get involved as well.”