CEDAR CITY – Southern Utah University could benefit from a proposed zone change currently in front of the Cedar City Council for a vote.
The council discussed the proposal Wednesday during their work meeting where the issue was on the agenda for a public hearing. No one showed up to oppose the change.
If passed, the zone change would amend the proposed half-acre property from highway services to high density residential, allowing the developer to build student housing. The property in question is located on the corner of 200 N. 400 West.
Councilman Fred Rowley said he was concerned about allowing the area to be developed into student housing for the university when the city may need it in the future for commercial purposes.
SUU President Scott Wyatt expressed his appreciation to the council via a letter that also outlined the reasons why the school needed additional housing options.
“As you know, last fall set a new record for students at Southern Utah University as enrollments grew by 16 percent. This growth drove our total headcount to 8,881, up 1,225 students over fall semester 2014,” he said. “We are projecting similar enrollment growth for this fall as well. This rapid growth brought a shortage of housing options with many students scrambling at the last minute to secure a place to live.”
Rowley questioned why the school had not rebuilt Juniper Hall after students were forced to vacate the 50-year-old “sleep and study” style dorm in 2011, just weeks before the semester’s end, when its heating system gave way.
Since then, the property has never been developed Rowley said during an interview with Cedar City News.
“I’m just wondering why the university has not done anything with that property,” he said. “I don’t know if they plan to build classrooms there or what but it’s sitting there and they could use it for student housing and I would like to know why.”
Following Wednesday’s meeting, Councilmen Paul Cozzens and Ron Adams told Cedar City News they support the proposed change.
Cozzens said he felt the properties located closer to the freeway should maintain their highway service zoning designation. However, he said, the one at issue is closer to Main Street and in a largely residential area.
The Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation is building student housing units on the corner of 200 N. 300 West, just a block east of the one currently being debated. That property also had to go through a zone change.
“I understand leaving the property west of this property designated highway service because it’s closer to the freeway and should be left commercial, but this area has residential homes,” Cozzens said. “The thing is, the school needs more housing and here’s an opportunity for them to have that. I just think we need to support them and it’s not going to make or break the future of commercial development in Cedar City if we rezone this area.”
Council members Terri Hartley and Craig Isom were not available for comment.
The council agreed to move the issue to next week’s agenda for a final vote.
In other business, the council discussed a proposal to annex 1.28 acres of land in the area of 2160 W. 580 North.
The land is currently located in Iron County boundaries and is part of what Utah law describes as an island where the surrounding property owners are located in a different locality.
Prior to 2015, cities could not annex islands into their jurisdiction. However, Rowley said Rep. John Westwood, R-Cedar City, changed that law making it now possible for cities to bring islands or pieces of islands into their district.
There is no opposition to this change, Rowley said, and it was also moved to next week’s agenda.
Ed. Note: Cedar City News | CedarCityUtah.com is a counterpart to St. George News | StGeorgeNews.com.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.