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The City Journals

From rural to high-density: the changing face of western West Jordan

Jun 23, 2017 09:59AM ● By City Journals Staff

The Notice of Public Hearing was posted prior to the city council meeting and prompted many citizens to come speak (Becca Ketelsleger/City Journals)

By Becca Ketelsleger | [email protected]

“I rise in opposition to agenda item 6F for tonight,” began West Jordan resident Norman Thomas, opening up the citizen comment portion of the May 24 West Jordan City Council meeting.

He was not alone in this sentiment. 

West Jordan residents flooded the city council meeting in order to speak out against a proposed ordinance which would rezone 22.5 acres at the northeast corner of 7800 South and 5600 West from very low-density residential land use to community commercial and very high-density residential land use, with a senior housing overlay. 

This change would allow for a shopping center on 14.282 acres of the total property, with 8.223 acres being allotted for high-density housing. With the senior housing overlay component, a senior housing (55-plus) community would be required on the property. 

The high-density housing would allow for 22 units per acre, with a total of approximately 176 units. 

The applicant for this proposed future land use map change was Peterson Development, and although a concept plan was developed, the ordinance proposed was not to approve the concept plan, but merely for the rezone. 

The West Jordan Planning Commission forwarded a positive recommendation for this rezone. 

“There was some concern from the planning commission members about the high-density residential units,” said planning commission staff member Nannette Larsen. “Regardless, city staff has found that the future land use map amendments and rezone meets all 11 criteria required in the city code.” 

Despite this, there were two issues raised throughout the lively discussion which would affect the residents of developments neighboring the area in question. 

The first would be related to the roadways surrounding the new development.

Being situated at the northeast corner of the area in question, the high-density housing would be utilizing 5490 West and a road created off of a current roundabout at Highlands Loop Road as their main roadways. Currently, the north end of 5490 West is gated, and the road itself is marked as “Private.” 

“Before any development can occur on this Peterson site, the property owner would be required to dedicate property for the development of 5490 West,” said Larsen. 

The gated property to the north would remain private as long as there is no redevelopment there that would require sewer lines.  

The thought of added traffic along these roadways, as well as other main commuter thoroughfares in the area, was concerning to some. 

“We do not have the east–west routes with the bottleneck that the airport creates to accommodate,” said Thomas in regards to the influx of people and cars that would hit local streets.

Councilman Dirk Burton, on the other hand, had a different perspective regarding the senior housing component. “It (senior housing) doesn’t increase the traffic the way normal apartments do,” he said. 

The second main concern from residents was the height aspect of the proposed senior housing. Shown in the concept plan as being three stories tall, the new development would stand in stark contrast to the surrounding half-acre lot single-family homes. 

“This commercial and senior complex, high density, I don’t think is compatible with our area,” said David Sund, who lives in the neighboring subdivision. 

Peterson Development was also the developer of the houses directly east of 5490 West, where Sund and several other concerned residents live. 

“When we developed these subdivisions to the east of this site proposed, I don’t think the Mountain View Corridor was a glimmer in the eye of anyone,” said Justin Peterson of Peterson Development. “We were developers, and by our nature we have to forecast.” 

Councilman Zach Jacob eventually raised the suggestion that the rezone have some conditions attached, such as how close the high-density complex be set to the road. This was prompted by a sight visual Peterson Development provided, illustrating that if the building were to be set further back from the houses it would not obstruct their view. 

This was met with general approval, and the ordinance finally passed with a 5-2 vote (Councilmen Chris McConnehey and Chad Nichols opposed), including the conditions that the residential component be set back 135 feet from the nearest sidewalk.

While a compromise was reached, not all left the meeting with their goals accomplished. 

“It just seems like every time we come here, we as the residents, typically always tend to lose,” said West Jordan resident Dave Whitton during the public discussion portion. He had previously spoken out against the rezone at the planning commission meeting on May 2.