‘We have rights too’: Cedar City Council hears public concerns over planned use development on Aimee Avenue

CEDAR CITY — Several community members addressed the Cedar City Council regarding a vicinity plan for an eight-unit planned use development on Aimee Avenue.

The approximate location of the PUD planned for Aime Avenue | Screenshot by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

The council considered a vicinity plan for a planned use development at 51 N. Aime Avenue. 

City Planner Donald Boudreau presented the plan to the council and said it meets PUD standards. The property is zoned as R3-M, for multiple unit dwellings, and the plan includes eight units with three bedrooms. The vicinity plan received a negative recommendation from the Planning Commission. 

The council previously approved a vicinity plan that was for six units, but the property was sold before development began. 

Resident Jonathan Pyne approached the council to express concerns regarding increased traffic to 45 North and privacy and asked if the PUD could be kept to six units and two stories tall, rather than eight three-story units. 

Pyne said homeowners in the area have expressed concerns to the council multiple times. 

“None of our concerns have ever been addressed,” Pyne said. “I understand that the property owners have a right, but when it comes to the rest of the community, we have rights too I feel like.”

Pyne said adding townhomes to the area affects all the residents in the area and changes the dynamic of the community. 

“People in this community no longer want to see these buildings built. Every time you build something over two stories you people are dynamically changing this city,” Pyne said. “And you’re going to do so to the point of no return and you will lose the specialness of this city, why people love it and love to live here.”

A PUD planned to be located on Aime Avenue has raised concerns from Cedar City residents, many of which are related to the 45 North road, which has not been developed yet, | Screenshot by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

Pyne showed the council photos from his backyard looking up to 45 North and said the street is 5-10 feet above the residents’ backyards. 

“This road has a dynamic impact on the privacy of the people who live here,” he said. 

Pyne proposed a privacy wall on 45 North. 

“What I would propose, at the very least as this road gets developed, is to build some type of privacy wall, some kind of vegetation, something so we can maintain our privacy as landowners here,” Pyne said. 

Douglass Schmidt addressed the council via telephone and said traffic and safety are concerns of his as well. Schmidt said considerations beyond the property the PUD is located on should be considered. 

“I hope the council takes the whole thing in consideration, not just the development but the residents who have been there for years and years,” Schmidt said. 

Lance Duffield, who identified himself as a partner at Reliant Engineering and Design, the designer of the project, said the project meets all the city’s requirements for the zone and the general plan. 

“We have designed a project that meets the general plan and the zoning requirements,” Duffield said. “We’ve relied on guidance from the city and designed the project to meet city requirements.”

The project developer, Brody Fausett, said the PUD will not be townhomes with shared walls, but twin homes intended for families. 

“They’re designed really well; they’re beautiful, they have two-car garages,” Fausett said. “It’s 100% adding value to the area. … The plan is to put families there.”

Other residents addressed the council to express concerns of increased traffic and privacy as well.

City Attorney Tyler Romeril advised the council that although the Planning Commission gave a negative recommendation, the city still has to abide by its own zoning regulations.

“The city, legally, is required to follow what we’re telling people they’re allowed to do, unless we can articulate a specific reason why we’re not going to follow our zoning laws,” Romeril said. “Once the council approved that to go to the R-3 zone, the developer then has an expectation to be able to develop according to what we say he can.”

Romeril said the council needs a legal reason to deny a vicinity plan, such as a traffic safety concern after a traffic study is done. 

“It can’t be based on fear, or speculation or conjecture,” Romeril said. 

Councilman Tyler Melling inquired about any plans to develop or change 45 North and said vacant properties in the area may change hands relatively soon. 

“From a policy-making standpoint, there are a number of factors that we have to consider,” Melling said. 

Councilman Ron Adams said as a real estate agent, he typically encourages clients to look into surrounding properties and zones.

“Unless you want to go buy it, it could change someday,” Adams said. “The only way to protect what you say is a view is to buy the property, because somebody else may buy it and want to do something with it.” 

The Aime Avenue PUD vicinity plan will be on the council’s action agenda on Sept. 2. 

‘I believe there’s a lot of need’

Cedar City resident Tom Jett presented an ordinance amendment to the council that would allow an additional residential use in the industrial and manufacturing 1 zone.

Cedar City resident Tom Jett addresses the council about allowing an additional residential use in an industrial zone, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

Jett addressed the council to explain the proposed use and said it would allow small residential units in industrial buildings. 

Romeril briefly reviewed the amendments to the ordinance he drafted for consideration and said the change was essentialy to define the use of “caretaker dwelling” based on Jett’s recommendations for residential use in the zone.

The ordinance currently allows for caretaker dwellings in the zone but was not strictly defined. The drafted ordinance amendment would change the definition of a caretaker dwelling to include the following restrictions for the I&M-1 zone:

  • The residential space can only be on the second floor or the back portion of the lot;
  • The residential space can only be up to 750 square feet;
  • The dwelling can only have one bedroom;
  • The residential space cannot be rented separately from the rest of the building.

The amendment also defines a caretaker dwelling for an I&M-2 zone as follows:

A dwelling unit which is occupied primarily by a person or persons employed to care for and maintain 24-hour oversight on the principal commercial, industrial or institutional use of the site.

Jett said including the residential use on the back portion of the building, when his previous recommendation included only use on the second floor of the building, was to meet ADA requirements.

“The idea behind that is so we can meet ADA requirements,” Jett said. “If there’s a person that’s not able to navigate stairs, that would be available to them.”

Due to the use of the word “lot” in the dwelling requirements, some concern was expressed over residential spaces being located behind industrial buildings, so Jett clarified that residential spaces would not be separate structures from the building.

“The garage itself would have the unit inside of the garage, just on the back section of the garage,” Jett said. 

Romeril confirmed that was his understanding of the caretaker dwelling as well and the council requested the language be changed to make that more clear.

“The residential component is very incidental to what the main purpose is, which would be the shop,” Romeril said. “So, we want the residents in the back part of the dwelling so the main part is the shop.”

The council discussed concerns of enforcing some of the requirements and potential nuisance and noise complaints from residents living in industrial zoning. 

Jett said he thinks there is a need for this kind of residence in the city.

“I think it’s a good project,” Jett said. “I’ve spoken to a lot of people — I believe there’s a lot of need.”

This item will also be on the council’s action agenda for Sept. 2. 

Other business

Economic Development Director Danny Stewart addressed the council to discuss an incentive program with local business Decorworx, which has contributed to the Coal Creek Community Reinvestment Project. 

Economic Development Director Danny Stewart proposes an incentive program for local business Decorworx, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19. 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

Stewart said Decorworx invested in their current building and added over $1,800,000 in value to the building. 

Stewart said the agreement between Cedar City and the Cedar City Redevelopment Agency for the incentive would also include other taxing entities involved, so the city’s portion of the incentive would amount to $3,8223 per year for nine years. 

“This funding comes directly from their property tax, it’s not funding that’s coming from any other taxpayer’s pocket,” Stewart said. “It’s just a refund back to them for their investment.”

Stewart also explained that a local economic development incentive program for Decorworx has been in progress for a few years, and through the process the Economic Development Department has found the city’s local incentives restrictive. 

“At that time, we talked about putting together a local tax increment incentive with them through the redevelopment agency,” Stewart said. “In the process of doing that, we created a project area where those types of incentives can take place and found that we had some language in agreement with our incentives program that really limited local incentives to larger manufacturing-type projects.”

As a result, the department has created a matrix to help design local incentives that allows flexibility for smaller businesses and considers factors beyond the number of jobs created. 

“This was a difficult thing for this particular project, but in the long run it helped my department to create a tool that we can use moving forward for incentives,” Stewart said. 

The council will have to vote on entering an interlocal agreement between the city, the redevelopment agency, Iron County, Iron County School District and the Iron County Water Conservancy District in order for the incentive program to be granted. 

The vote will take place during their Sept. 2 meeting. 

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!