Council to Approve Performance-Based Zones
Jun 14, 2016 09:46AM
By Tori La Rue
West Jordan City Council amended the city code, allowing the council to performance-based zones in master planned communities, like The Highlands. – The Highlands at West Jordan
By Tori La Rue | [email protected]
The West Jordan City Council voted to approve two changes to the municipal code that will affect the planning of large residential developments on the west side of the city.
Previously, the planning commission acted as the approving body for performance-based zones, which allowed greater density within a zone in exchange for quality upgrades. The council acted as a ratifying body that could give their consent to performance-based developments that the commission had approved.
This, in essence, allowed the commission to set the density even though the planning commission is an appointed body and shouldn’t have the legislative authority to enact ordinance, Scott Langford, city planner, said. During the May 11 city council meeting, the council voted unanimously to change the council to the “approving body” on these types of projects.
“I am very, very happy to see this,” Councilmember Chris McConnehey said. “I wish this would have been done four years ago. There’s been some instances with some other developments where we found ourselves in a bit of a predicament. This puts us in a much better position as an elected body to make the decisions that are requested that effect the folks that we represent.”
Victor Barnes, representing Peterson Development, expressed his concern. Peterson is already involved in several performance-based zone projects and he said they are worried about how this change will affect those developments.
“We question whether you can now change some of our procedure and the process that we go through,” Barnes said. “We think working with staff who is confident and who does a good job is more than enough. We think that working with another body (the city council) is more than we need to take care of and ensure that we provide good subdivisions and good products to the city of West Jordan.”
David Brickey, city attorney, said he believes developers with existing projects have rights that they could argue successfully if the city was pushed to litigation. Several weeks ago weeks ago he started asking them to bring up their concerns and tell him what implications the city might be missing by having the council act as the approving body. His hope is that developers’ specific concerns, if any, can be discussed with the city council in future meetings before anyone starts “finger pointing,” he said.
Langford said he doesn’t think the change of the approving body violates current agreements.
“The process really doesn’t change a whole lot, and, in my opinion, it should streamline it,” he said.
The developers will still work with the planning commission to discuss their performance-based projects, and then the commission will give a recommendation to the city council based on their research. Afterward, the city council will vote on the recommendations and make amendments. The process will be very similar to that of a rezone.
“In essence, when you look at these master-plans you are creating a unique zoning for that particular area, and so I really like this amendment,” Langford said. “It puts this process more in line with the rest of the city that’s already been coded.”
The city council also voted in favor of allowing developers and the planning commission to propose exemptions to the Cap and Grade, which dictates the amount of density allowed throughout the city, if they are dealing with more than 75 undeveloped acres of land that they want to convert to a performance-based zone. Mayor Kim Rolfe and Councilmembers Jeff Haaga and Dirk Burton dissented, but the vote passed four to three.