ST. GEORGE — Santa Clara City Council denied a zone change request at its Wednesday meeting that would have advanced the development of a facility for seniors on Santa Clara Drive.
The proposed facility would be a two-story building on the back of the lot off Santa Clara Drive with 50 senior independent living units, 40 assisted living units and a 20-bed memory care unit, for a total of 110 units. In addition, the requested zone change would include a separate two-story building on the front of the lot comprising 3,000-5,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
Council members expressed concerns about the location of the facility, which would be built in an area that has a history of flood damage, and how the facility would affect population density in the area. Several members of the public also spoke at the meeting, most of whom were opposed to the zone change.
The commercial section of the building would be built low to the ground in a gulley that Councilman Wendell Gubler said he remembers being impacted by floods since he was young.
“I was born here 76 years ago, and I spent the first 13 years of my life in Santa Clara, and I was in one of the homes just above the area that you’re talking about,” he said.
“During that time,” he continued, “there’s several times we had floods. It’s really a dangerous situation for me to see an assisted living place put in that area, because I don’t trust the water. The water scares the old-timers that have lived in this area.”
This sentiment was echoed by other members of the public who spoke at the meeting.
Kyle Hafen, a developer of the project, acknowledged the location is an area of concern and said he would make sure the engineering was done right and that the area was labeled safe before any construction.
“It does happen,” Hafen said of the flooding. “This is the Santa Clara River, and it has flooded and will (again).”
Although the zoning plan includes parking lots for the assisted living facility, questions were raised about where shoppers would park and how far they would have to walk to take advantage of the retail space. Council and members of the public also expressed concern about how a large building with commercial and retail space would look among the rest of Santa Clara’s historic district.
While some residents said they felt the need for a such a facility for seniors and would welcome one in the right place, they were apprehensive about moving forward with the zone change without having an opportunity to give feedback. One resident brought a petition signed by 130 of her neighbors opposing the zone change.
Hafen said he would work with residents to establish a community advisory board to discuss what changes locals would like to see, and ultimately the City Council denied the request 3-2 with members Leina Mathis and Ben Shakespeare in favor of approval. Gubler opposed the request, as did council members Jarett Waite and Denny Drake. Mayor Rick Rosenberg was absent from the meeting due to illness.
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