BOUNTIFUL—After hearing concerns voiced by some residents and business owners in a section of the community near historic downtown, Bountiful’s City Council approved adoption of a six-month moratorium on new development in that area.
The section in question is between 400 North and 500 South, from 400 East to 200 West. It was originally known as “Plat A,” and is also designated as the Bountiful Fort Historic District.
“The area has seen tremendous changes in the past few years, as redevelopment has occurred on Main Street and in the surrounding neighborhoods,” said city planner Chad Wilkinson. “We’ve heard of concerns from some about preserving the character of the historic downtown area, particularly with regard to allowed uses and density of development.”
So Wilkinson and his staff will reach out to both residents and businesses in that section of Bountiful.
“It’s a three-prong approach,” he said. “We’ll first talk to those in the neighborhoods and find out their concerns. Then we’ll take that information to the planning commission, who can make recommendations. Once we have something ready to present to the council, we’ll bring a proposal back before you for adoption. The key thing is making sure that we can maintain the identity of this area and that development going forward fits with the vision we all have for downtown.”
In his staff report presented to council, Wilkinson said concerns have been expressed over “the number of multi-family units being constructed in the area and the scale and density of development.” He said recent projects such as the IHC expansion and other developments have brought questions regarding allowed height, setbacks, parking and other standards.
There have also been calls for preserving existing homes and possibly changing the zoning in the area from multi-family residential to single-family.
Councilmember Kendalyn Harris stated the six-month time frame could be punitive for anyone hoping to start new developments this year, as it would push the approval date of any proposed projects until at least the end of September.
“I’d like to see a shorter timeframe to expedite this study, to get it done as soon as possible,” Harris stated. She suggested perhaps a two or three-month moratorium at maximum.Councilmember John Pitt agreed that the six-month time frame seemed excessive.
But city manager Gary Hill said “it would not be possible to do this in less than six months. We have a number of projects staff is already working on, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to rush those or this one.”
He said staff would want to set up a number of meetings with the shareholders in this study; namely the residents and business owners in the area. Those could include open houses, canvassing of residences, subsequent presentations to the planning commission and the residents, and then creation of a proposal to bring to the council.
“We want to make sure that future developments maximize what we want downtown to be,” said councilmember Richard Higginson.
The council vote ended in a 2-2 tie, with Higginson and councilmember Beth Holbrook voting for it, and Pitt and Harris against it. With councilmember John Marc Knight out of town on business, it left the tie-breaking vote to Mayor Randy Lewis, who voted in support.
Under the moratorium, processing, consideration and approval of applications for zone changes, new development and construction within the boundary area will end for a six-month period, though council could vote to end the moratorium earlier. It does not include the construction of legally permitted single-family homes on lots existing as of the effective date of the ordinance, which was March 28.