Murray Council approves development agreement to demolish historic buildings; finalizes 2017-18 budget
Public Services Director Doug Hill speaks at the June 20 Murray City Council meeting after receiving the Cycle Wasatch Bike Friendly City Award for the city. (Mandy Ditto/City Journals)
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The Murray City Council approved a development agreement with a developer to demolish buildings on Vine Street and Jones Court to build the new Vine Street Senior Living Project at the meeting June 20. They also approved the finalized 2017-18 fiscal year city budget.
Several community members attended the meeting and shared their concerns about the tearing down of one of the oldest buildings in Murray — an LDS church meeting house built in 1907 called the First Ward Building, which now houses the Mount Vernon Academy, a private school.
Janice Strobell, a resident of Murray and a member working to create the Preserve Murray Group, attended the meeting and hopes to find a win-win situation with the city to restore the Murray First Ward Building and give it a use to benefit the city.
The Preserve Murray Group is working to raise awareness of the issue, since many people have not heard about the sale of the property for development, Strobell said. She also said that another historic renovation specialist who looked at the building determined it could be much less expensive than what the city was given as an estimate.
“We don’t need to keep regretting what we lose, we can make it what it is meant to be: a shining pillar for the community,” she said.
Though it was said there wasn’t an appeal in process during the meeting, Strobell said the appeal being put forward to the Planning Commission is the reason why the land owners cannot officially sell the property yet.
The council’s decision was based on the fact that Murray has no senior living center of its own, and with an increasingly older population, there is a need for it, several council members said.
“This is difficult, and it’s a private property issue,” said councilman Jim Brass. “I will speak to the need for an assisted living center. We don’t have one in Murray. Our population is aging. One of the problems with our population is our property is so expensive our kids can’t move here and we are trying to work on that too…building an assisted living center in this area makes sense to me, it’s near a park, it’s near the hospital, it’s near places to go.”
The land use application that came into the city in December 2016 has been looked at and considered carefully said Tim Tingey, director of Administrative and Development Services.
“Part of that application included demolition of four historical buildings, they include the First Ward Building, the two duplexes on Jones Court and the building on the corner of Jones and Vine Street,” Tingey said.
Tingey discussed the Downtown Historic Overlay District, an ordinance that restricted demolition of historical buildings in the downtown area unless they met some criteria, until the Murray City Center Ordinance was adopted in March 2011. This ordinance allows for an exception process for historical buildings, and is being requested on for the first time with the application to build the Vine Street Senior Living Project.
“That exception process is determined by the Planning Commission,” Tingey said. “It went to the Planning Commission on May 4 and they considered this item through a public input process, through application materials that came forward, through recommendations from the History Advisory Board, as well as the Murray City Center Design Review Committee, which includes professionals in the architectural and planning industry that evaluated this proposal as well.”
The Commission voted to approve the application, based on the elements including the condition of the building, adherence to the Murray City Center District standards and objectives, and compliance to the ordinance and design standards of the city.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the development agreement, with emphasis that the agreement would lead to not only demolition, but actual development and use of the land. A development plan, as well as proof of financial ability — with the project costing around $27 million — had to be submitted for this to be passed. Public benefit and use as a commercial project were also included in the requirements, Tingey said.
The council also approved the following resolutions and ordinances:
• An ordinance to adopt the transfer of monies from enterprise funds to other city funds.
• The appointment of Danyce Steck — the city’s new financial director — as the city’s representative to the Utah Infrastructure Agency (UIA) Board.
• The adoption of the rate of tax levies for the Fiscal Year commencing July 1, 2017 and ending June 30, 2018 on the General and Library Fund. Murray currently has the fifth lowest property tax rate in Salt Lake County, Steck said, and the certified tax rate for the city for 2017 is 0.001415, which is the lowest tax rate for the city since 2006.
• Imposing a temporary ban on the discharge of fireworks and other ignition sources in specific fire risk areas of the city, including Murray Park, the Murray Parkway Trail, anywhere within 300 feet of the Park or the Trail and Wheeler Farm or within 300 feet of the farm.
• An Interlocal Agreement between Murray and State of Utah, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands in regards to the service and equipment of Murray city that can be provided to the state to assist in fighting wildland fires, on conditions of reimbursement.
• An ordinance enacting Chapter 10.20 of the Murray City Municipal Code in relation to people impeding or blocking traffic, specifically the prohibition of exchange or money or property from a pedestrian to driver or passenger in a car, if the pedestrian must come into the roadway to get it (unless the car is legally parked). There are some circumstances that it is appropriate — traffic accidents, medical emergencies and the like — said Frank Nakamura, Murray City Attorney, however, a special events permit must be obtained before this can legally take place any other time.
• A resolution authorizing the execution of a Telecommunications Franchise Agreement between Qwest Corporation DBA CenturyLink QC and Murray City.
• An ordinance amending Section 12.34.100 of the Murray City Municipal Code in regards to the appeal procedure for special events permits, so as to keep in line with First Amendment rights of free speech, and so there continues to be a relevant process for residents to appeal for these permits.
Janie Richardson, the city’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) administrator, was honored as employee of the month before she retires in July, and the Cycle Wasatch Bike Friendly City Award was presented to Murray City.
City council meetings are held every first and third Tuesday for the month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at Murray City Hall.