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The City Journals

Millcreek residents’ continuing issue with ‘the circus tent’

Nov 18, 2019 02:39PM ● By Kirk Bradford

The new view with the completed Dewey Bail Bonds building. (Photo courtesy Scott Brown)

By Kirk Bradford | [email protected]

A large building recently went up in the middle of a residential community. Many who live in the area of 3300 South and 1500 East purchased their homes especially for views of the Wasatch Mountains or the beautiful sunsets to be viewed along the Oquirrh Mountains. Then, in a matter of weeks, that view was blotted out. 

One resident, Scott Brown, has been actively seeking a solution to the issue of what many have now termed “the circus tent.” He said he loved the house and when viewing it for the first time, he walked out on his deck and saw the unobstructed view of Mount Olympus. That sealed the deal for him and he immediately closed on the home.

For the past couple of years, Brown and other residents routinely take in the mountain scenery. 

But on Labor Day weekend the structure started going up without any notice to the residents. As the building got taller and taller, residents became concerned and started calling to ask questions. After quite a bit of research, the city of Millcreek responded in a statement from Francis Xavier Lilly, Millcreek’s planning director. On behalf of the city, Lilly apologized and said ultimately they were responsible for the building error. The error was complicated, Lilly said, but summarized it as being the result of incorrectly issuing a building permit. 

Mayor Jeff Silvestrini addressed residents at the city council meeting and said the matter was an internal mistake with one employee that is being handled in-house and “not going to be addressed in a public setting.” Residents who continue to attend council meetings to ask about what is being done about the situation, as well as possible solutions, are referred to Francis Lilly, and he then refers them to the Facebook statement posted about the situation, which is how similar issues have been handled in the past.

In his statement, Lilly wrote an error occurred in approving the permit “on the basis of plans that weren’t entirely accurate.” The property in question, Lilly wrote, is in two zones — commercial and multifamily. Neither the property owner nor city staff knew of the two zone designation, which city staff is now working to fix.

Lilly wrote there was information missing in the building application, but he had “no reason to believe the applicant mislead” them. City officials are working with the property owner and neighboring residents to include façade and landscaping improvements

While the city admits they’re at fault, they cannot legally remedy things to make it right for the people wronged.

For now, it seems things are going to stay the way they are. Some are trying to stay hopeful, like Brown, who posted a photo of the view from the very top of his house. You can glimpse the mountain scenery where a large portion is still blotted by the large blue Dewey Bail Bonds building. Silvestrini has also responded in kindness to individuals on social media. 

“The mistake our planner made was unfortunate and we have taken steps to prevent this type of error from happening again. I am not at liberty to discuss personnel matters (particularly on Social Media) but I can assure you that we are addressing that also. It’s not often cities admit that they made a mistake. Mistakes do happen and I don’t think any mayor can prevent them completely. I think it’s important to admit mistakes and learn from them and try to make them right if possible.”