WASHINGTON CITY — A zone change allowing a development that has drawn opposition from surrounding residents in Washington Fields due to high-density and traffic concerns was approved Wednesday by City Council.
Heritage Place, which calls for multiple housing units and a patch of commercial space to be built on “the Nisson field,” was approved by the council in a 4-1 vote. It changes the area from agricultural zoning to a planned unit development.
That allows the city to have more input over what is allowed in the zoned area rather than regular zoning that allows for a permitted list of uses that do not need council approval.
“I’m worried about the impact this development will have,” Councilman Doug Ward said as he cast the only dissenting vote.
The development would be built on the field just south of Nisson Hill between 300 West and Washington Fields Drive. It’s the field that sits across the street from two of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapels on Washington Fields Road.
It will feature 178 residential units that include single-family homes, garden homes and townhomes. A 3.5-acre patch of commercial space is proposed for the corner of 2000 South and Washington Fields Road, according to the project’s site plan.
Originally rejected by the city’s Planning Commission, the developers made changes to the project the commission recommended. Some of the changes were shrinking the commercial space from an earlier planned 10 acres and removing some residential units.
While the City Council appeared satisfied with the changes presented by developers in a Dec. 12 council meeting, the traffic and commercial space remained an issue for neighboring residents during a public hearing the same night.
They spoke against the commercial space and the how traffic in the area could be impacted. Concerning the commercial space, many residents have long opposed any form of commercial space being established in “the Fields” as they claim it will lead of a negative change in the quality of life they enjoy in that part of the city.
During Wednesday’s meeting, discussion included the requirement of acceleration and deceleration lanes leading into and out of the project access point onto Washington Fields Road. Another deceleration lane leading into the project’s commercial space was also addressed.
While the developers were aware of the city’s requiring the deceleration lanes, it was the first time they had heard of the acceleration lane, which they said could pose some complications to the project.
Councilman Jeff Turek said he believed the matter had already been discussed and understood with the project’s consulting traffic engineers, but even two members of the council said it was their first time hearing about it as well.
Despite some mild frustration on the developers’ part, it was determined the acceleration lane was required by city code and wasn’t addressed before due to a misunderstanding between developers and city staff.
Talk of the lanes lent to the larger issue that has dogged the Heritage Place project.
“I really feel traffic has been the biggest issue,” Council Daniel Cluff said as he noted the lingering concerns. He also said he worried about the impact to 2000 South.
However, Cluff also said he felt an overall issue concerning a property owner’s right to use their land as they desired.
It’s always a challenge for city officials to figure out how to accommodate the city’s present needs with its future ones, Turek said.
The addition of acceleration and deceleration lanes on Washington Fields Road was made a condition of the council’s approval of the zoning change.
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