City referees contentious condo rezone
Oct 17, 2018 11:11AM
● By Jana Klopsch
The Murray City Council approved Applegate Condos’ request for rezone. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)
By Shaun Delliskave | firstname.lastname@example.org
Good fences make good neighbors, unless there is the threat of a taller, less desirable home being built next to that boundary. At the Sept. 18 Murray City Council meeting, the council evaluated a request from the Applegate Homeowners Association (HOA) to amend the condominium complex’s (5300 S. 700 West) current zoning for new development.
In a meeting where emotions ran high, proponents for the rezone (the Applegate HOA) and opponents (residents bordering along the west boundary of Applegate) offered feedback to the council that, at times, lacked decorum. At issue, Applegate is currently zoned as R-1-8, a residential zone. R-1-8 does not accurately match what exists there, because condominiums are considered a legal non-conforming use.
Legal non-conforming use requires that modifications made to any buildings situated on the property, even a small deck expansion project, can only occur after full public process and approval from a hearing officer—for each individual building modified. The inaccurate zone label should have been reconciled in the past, which was an oversight until now. Therefore, the General Plan would need to be changed from R-1-8 to residential medium density (R-M-15).
Of concern for residents residing in the Majestic Village Circle and Lucky Clover subdivisions, which border the west side of Applegate, is changing the zoning to a higher density. Those homes sit downhill of the condominium complex; with higher density zoning, many residents fear that their backyards would abut a multilevel apartment building that would look down into their properties.
“What are we going to build there? Something that looks like an old Soviet project?” stressed Gerald Andersch, whose property is adjacent to Applegate.
The vote to rezone did not actually approve any new construction within the complex. For that to happen, a separate application, which does not currently exist, would need to be brought before the city council. According to Administrative and Development Director Tim Tingey, the rezone would allow for buildings to only be five feet taller than what currently exists.
According to James McNulty, Murray City’s development services manager, “If a building were to burn down, the city would be in a difficult position to allow for a rebuilding of the condos, because the land is zoned for single-family homes. The current R-1-8 zone does not allow for condo development.”
Comments made to the City Planning Commission on Aug. 2 indicated that the impetus behind the rezone was related to the financial condition of Applegate. Kyle Lind, the HOA president, stated, “The HOA fees are very expensive, and it is difficult for them to take care of the land appropriately. This will be a way to raise approximately three million dollars to make necessary improvements.”
Applegate’s western half has five acres that are the focus of redevelopment. Currently, the complex has green space, parking, and long-term storage in that area.
Public comments from homeowners living within Applegate stated their opposition to development due to loss of green space and construction of additional units within the complex. George Cohen, who sits on the HOA board, stated, “The Applegate HOA took a vote and 85 percent of the people—out of the 85 percent that voted—15 percent of the people did not want to move forward with the zone change.”
The council members reminded those in attendance that the council was only considering the zoning request and wasn’t involved with disputes within the complex. The council voted to approve the planning commission’s recommendation that the rezone should occur. Brett Hales, Dale Cox, and Jim Brass did emphasize before their votes that while they were comfortable with approving the zoning change, future development requests will be highly scrutinized.