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Murray Journal

Final General Plan Open House Draws A Crowd

Oct 04, 2016 02:26PM ● By Tyler Warren

More than 85 residents attended the Aug. 26 General Plan open house. Photo credit —Tyler Warren, City Journals

By Tyler Warren  | [email protected]

By 6 p.m., the crowd had spilled out of the City Council Chambers and into the hall. Over 85 residents showed up on Aug. 26 for the fourth and final open house for Murray’s General Plan. It was the best attended General Plan open house to date. The turnout was a far cry from the 20 who attended the first one in October 2014.

The Plan Murray website defines a general plan as a “‘constitution’ for development.” In practice, this means encouraging continued economic growth and community-oriented development. At the same time, the general plan seeks to protect the character of existing neighborhoods and historic areas. 

The latest version of the General Plan takes into account big changes in the City since the plan was adopted in 2003. With the completion of the Intermountain Medical Center and growing commercial investment, Murray is not the same city it was then. 

Kelly Gilman is a consultant with CRSA, the company the City hired to help them work on the General Plan. He said this was only a tweak on the original plan laid out 12 years ago, with no real about-face in its sense of direction. 

“Everybody values the way Murray is right now, and we want to keep things that way, make sure neighborhoods are vibrant…We want to make Murray a player economically along the Wasatch Front,” Gilman said.

Murray has enjoyed a bit of an economic boom as of late. People are spending money here, and that money is staying within the community. This is good for tax revenue, but also because it alleviates pressure on the City to find more space for commercial development. Therefore, most residential areas will remain untouched by zoning changes.

“Since Murray is fairly developed already, there isn’t too much of a need to change residential zoning,” Gilman said. 

The one residential area slated to be rezoned completely is near I-215. The rezone is intended to encourage development that fits the characteristics of the area. Offices and commercial buildings will use the high traffic around the freeway, and play off the close proximity to the hospital. 

Other neighborhoods could see the inclusion of “buffer zones.” These are mixed-use development areas designed to provide a seamless transition from residential to commercial zones. The businesses allowed by these areas are doctors’ offices, beauty salons and the like— small businesses that fit with the neighborhood.

The public response was, for the most part, positive. 

Local resident Sheri Chandler was pleased with the changes she saw. “I think it’s great what they’re doing, especially down State Street,” Chandler said. 

She did see a need in one area, however: subsidized housing for senior citizens. “There’s a lot of baby boomers here and we’re active. Look how many showed up.”

The area around 4800 South was marked under the 2003 General Plan to be rezoned from industrial to mixed use. That makes some business owners uneasy. 

Scott Harrelson, the owner of a local auto shop near 4800 South, wondered if big plans for this area will leave him and his employees behind.

“Our transaction taxes are higher because we’re in this redevelopment area. We’re collecting from the people we do business with to produce and fund what’s going to ultimately cost me. I don’t fit, and I’m really nervous about what the next 10 years will bring,” Harrelson said.

But Jared Hall, the community and economic development manager, said that business owners operating industrial properties don’t have to worry about their livelihood being swept out from under them. 

“It’s not like the old urban renewal in the 1950s where they were tearing down city blocks in Chicago,” Hall said. “We refer to these properties as legal but nonconforming. They are grandfathered in until their owners decide to sell.”

Residents will have two more opportunities to comment at a planning commission and City Council meeting in the fall before the plan reaches its final phase later this year.