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West Jordan Journal

West Jordan Council denies development that was approved by Planning Commission

Oct 14, 2019 03:37PM ● By Erin Dixon

Lisa Elgin, West Jordan Planner, addressed council about a proposed zoning change. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Sometimes, the planning commission recommendations are followed. Sometimes they are not. 

An applicant submitted to city leaders a plan to put five houses on land that currently allows for four. This would require a rezone. 

Lisa Elgin, West Jordan associate planner, said, “The Eagle’s Nest rezone is a request to rezone the 3.69 acres right across from Dunford Bakers. [T]he applicant is proposing they be rezoned from 1-acre lots to basically half-acre lots. It is currently located in the general plan designation, which allows for both of those zone districts. It meets all of our requirements so staff recommends approval.”

Councilmember Chris McConnehey was concerned that the zone change would upset the current neighborhood plan. 

“The conflict in my mind is how this would not be considered spot zoning,” he said. “We’ve stated elsewhere in our master plan that we want to avoid that. If we do something on this particular parcel, how is that not taking away from the integrity of the existing neighborhood.”

Scott Langford, West Jordan Development Services director agreed, but also had another perspective to add. 

“I see your perspective Councilman McConnehey. This would inject a smaller lot size within the greater neighborhood, but when we look at items such as spot zoning we refer back to the general plan,” he said. “Both zones fit within that designation and are therefore compatible.  When we look at spot zoning, we look at mainly the jarring transition.”

Councilmember Alan Anderson was also apprehensive about this proposal. 

“I get that they both fit, but we have long, large lots, and we’ve got this 3-acre lot with four significantly smaller lots in my view,” he said. “While it may fit in the zoning, I still question that it’s not spot zoning.”

Councilmember Kayleen Whitelock thought that this could open doors for more similar proposals. 

“I think it’s a legitimate concern of the neighborhood that once you’ve done it on one, then it will snowball,” she said. “Pretty soon, we won’t have in West Jordan very low-density, rural areas any longer. I think that’s part of what makes West Jordan West Jordan, is we have these pockets that people can enjoy a large area of land and I like that.”

Langford maintained that pros and cons of change are a matter of perspective and that ultimately it was a decision of the council. 

“Could you call this infill development? Absolutely,” he said. “Could you call this spot zoning? Absolutely. It’s just a matter of how you define it. Land, it’s a finite resource. It’s a precious resource for West Jordan residents and the city, and we need to look at highest and best use. For some, it’s not achieving its highest and best use. There is a lot of unused or undervalued property. For some, this could be the fantastic variety that makes West Jordan West Jordan, so it’s all perspective and it’s very subjective.”

Langford added more on the subject.

“And that’s why in my opinion, there’s not a right or wrong decision; it’s all about what you feel is best for this neighborhood and that’s what makes it a legislative act,” Langford said.

The final vote tally was as follows: McConnehey, no; Burton, yes; Whitelock, no; Riding, yes; Anderson, no; Lamb, no. The resolution failed two to four. 

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