Council rejects a proposed rezoning for new student housing

St. George City Hall, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The St. George City Council voted unanimously Thursday to deny a proposed zone change that would have made way for a new student housing complex after hearing objections from area business owners.

The proposal would have changed about 1 acre of land located at 1100 E. Tabernacle St. from commercially-zoned property to a planned development for student housing, which the business owners said would have further exacerbated traffic and parking issues in the area.

The location of a proposed student housing complex in St. George, Utah | Image courtesy city of St. George, St. George News

The proposed rezone was previously recommended for approval by the St. George Planning Commission to allow developer Nelson Brothers Professional Real Estate to build two student housing buildings on the property.

The project would have housed 68 students in 31 units, but only 51 parking spaces were reserved for resident parking.

In a public hearing on the matter, several area business owners expressed their objections to the proposed change.

“Student housing projects bring a lot of things in that are different than others. Kids don’t tend to … watch parking requirements very closely,” Larry Belliston, one of the area business owners, said.

Several business owners said they already consistently deal with students parking in or near their property, making it difficult to provide parking intended for customers.

“They park right in front of the dumpster,” Belliston said, “they park right in front of the emergency exit, or they park in front of other kinds of things and create problems for them.”

A mock image of a the parking lot for a proposed student housing complex in St. George, Utah | Image courtesy city of St. George, St. George News

Belliston said the limited parking spaces allotted for the development would only make the problem worse.

Desert Coach RV owner Sandra Call said a housing complex would be out of place in an area otherwise zoned for commercial development.

“When all of us businesses came in and built,” Call said, “we built according to the ordinances, to the zoning, and we were harmonious with each other.”

She also suggested that traffic through the area could be exacerbated by such a development.

1000 East is terrible,” Call said of area traffic, “It’s hard to get into my business now, and I have complaints from customers about that street right now.”

Developer representative Josh Arrington said they projected that students would opt to walk to school because of the proposed development’s close proximity to the Dixie State University campus and traffic and parking impact would be minimal.

“I disagree with them that students that students don’t drive that they’re just going to walk to school and not use their car,” Councilwoman Michele Randall said. “This street is horrendous, and I cannot imagine putting 51 cars at the end of the cul-de-sac.”

None of the present council members expressed their favor for the proposal.

“I drive multiple times a day into that area, and in my estimation, it is not compatible – it is not harmonious – with what is going on there,” Councilwoman Bette Arial said.

Councilman Ed Baca also mentioned an area fire station that receives heavy use, which he said would be adversely affected by additional traffic.

Though the city officials expressed their support for students and Dixie State University, they said such a project would not be compatible with the area and ultimately made a unanimous motion to deny the zone change.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • old school September 22, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Kudos to the city council for voting to protect charm of the downtown area, there seem to be way to many greedy developers out there trying to make quick buck with no regard for parks, preserves, the skyline, or historical significance of our community. The “collapsible soil” development near Hurricane is a testament to improprieties that can take place when conflict of interest goes unchecked in city government, hope we never go down the same fowl chute.

    • Chris September 22, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      ” protect charm of the downtown area”?? did you see where this property is located? there is absolutely “charming” about that part of town.

  • DRT September 22, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Well Chris, ya gotta admit that freeway is pretty charming. Not to mention the Utah Behavior Services. Oh, we can’t forget the bi-level complex across the street, or the building that houses both an attorney’s office, and a church. Strange combination… 😉

  • Kyle L. September 23, 2017 at 1:13 am

    It would be a great location because most of the kids act like animals so they could be seen at the emergency vet for their medical needs.

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