ST. GEORGE – A zone change request to allow short-term rentals in the Southgate area was unanimously shot down by the City Council Thursday. The action reiterates the previous decisions by the council not to allow the rentals in the middle of residential neighborhoods.
The short-term rentals were part of a proposal to revitalize the Joshuas at Southgate subdivision that sits along Tonaquint Drive. Due to poor soil issues development of the subdivision has slowed considerably.
Developer Corbin Church, who owns the majority of the property, said allowing nightly rental units would help reignite development and benefit the surrounding area and the city overall.
Many area residents didn’t share that sentiment.
Over the course of three hours, Church gave a thorough presentation of why he felt the zone change request should be approved while the majority of those in attendance voiced their opposition.
Questions of safety and security were raised by some area residents, while others worried their property values would fall. Others questioned the potential character of the people who would use the rentals, saying the change could cause a nuisance and possibly bring in a criminal element. There were also issues related to increased traffic and parking.
However, the overarching theme was whether or not the short-term rentals should be allowed in residential areas.
“It just doesn’t fit with the character of the area,” a resident of Tonaquint Terrace told the City Council. He was one of many who lined up along the wall of the council chambers to speak.
Supporters of the short-term rentals said the project would help complete the languishing Joshuas subdivision, which would do much to beautify the area. Currently half of the development is dirt and brush.
Church said the Joshuas could be like the popular Paradise Village at Zion development in Santa Clara, which includes short-term rentals. None of the issues brought up by the opposition had arisen in the Santa Clara development.
“There haven’t been any issues,” said David Whitehead, a former Santa Clara City Councilman.
Whitehead said Church’s development in Santa Clara had also proven economically beneficial for the area and the city.
As for the many points of concern brought up by residents, Church said their fears were misplaced and misinformed.
“There’s nothing to support those fears,” he said.
When the hours-long public hearing came to a close, Council members were quick to say they had no problem with short-term rentals.
Councilwoman Michele Randall pointed to the council’s approval of short-term rentals last month in the Entrada area and as part of future development in Bloomington.
Still, where the rentals are allowed within the city is another matter.
Councilman Joe Bowcutt said he worried about the precedent the city would create by allowing the rentals in a residential area.
“If the residential neighborhoods don’t want it, I don’t want it either,” Councilwoman Bette Arial said.
The issues of short-term rentals isn’t likely to go away anytime soon and is a global issue, Hughes said. Many cities struggle with the matter and how to properly deal with it. As such, he asked the residents at the meeting to keep on eye on the Legislature, as laws are being suggested that would hamper the city’s ability to regulate short-term rentals.
“The movement in hospitality is nightly rentals, not hotels,” Church said.
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