Skip to main content

Murray Journal

Murray enacts mixed-use moratorium

Feb 24, 2021 01:43PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The [email protected] owners have asked that their property be rezoned as mixed-use, possibly allowing residential development. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Flipping commercial properties to mixed-use development has come so fast and furious to Murray that the Murray City Council, at their Feb. 2 meeting, placed a temporary six-month moratorium on current and future requests.

The need for a moratorium arose from concerns registered by several Murray City department heads, including those from public works, city engineers, police and fire, who all need more time to study mixed-use impacts to their operations. 

According to Murray City Attorney G.L. Christensen, “I think, in a nutshell, I could probably summarize it this way: when the public works looks at a project and at the general plan, they look to see what infrastructure needs to be added. And, I think what’s been a challenge to them as some of these developments have been.”

The moratorium ordinance talks about the city council’s concern over the proliferation of high-density, mixed-use developments and providing essential public services. It also points out that the public works department is currently revising the city’s master transportation plan, which is not yet complete, so they can look at some of these developments to see if they can accommodate them.

Consequently, the ordinance was passed on the same day that the owners of The [email protected] requested their property, which includes retail stores such as Best Buy and Barnes & Noble, be rezoned from commercial to mixed-use.  

Mixed-use development is characterized as pedestrian-friendly development that blends two or more residential, commercial, cultural, institutional or industrial uses.

In addition to The [email protected]’s request, five mixed-use zone changes have been discussed for the former RC Willey property, the Sports Mall, the corner of 4800 South and State Street, the former Kmart property, and the former Mount Vernon School property.

As a temporary land-use regulation, the ordinance comes out of state law. It allows the Murray City Council, without prior consideration or a recommendation from the planning commission, to pass a rule that establishes a temporary land-use regulation. The ordinance can only last six months.

Christensen relayed the concerns from Public Works Director Danny Astill. “They have a level of service that they apply to each intersection and tells them what they have to do to make it safe and accommodate a development. The concern is that when some of these developments come in that they did not anticipate, they’re not sure they can handle them at all—if it’s going to make the intersection fail or whatever else. So there’s been a request to have some time to look at this and to get a handle on that.”

Police and fire have expressed concern with parking in mixed-use developments. Of recent controversy, parking at the Fireclay development has been an issue due to questions about whether response vehicles can get to an incident in the area. City Councilor Diane Turner expressed concern with The [email protected]’s proposal, specifically about possible parking spillover into Murray Park.

During this six-month moratorium, the city will review its current zoning ordinances and possibly pass another law guiding city planners on what impacts to consider regarding public infrastructure, transportation and access.

The [email protected]’s proposal was tabled for six months while the city reviews its mixed-use ordinance. Exempt from the temporary rule is planning in current mixed-use zones, the Murray City Center District, and transit-oriented (Fireclay) developments. Prior approvals, such as the development on the former Kmart property, can still proceed.

“I think that perhaps we can step back and look at it and maybe be a little creative and make sure that we’re doing what’s right for these areas. Because we really are determining what our city is going to look like for many, many years to come. So, this is really important…and it’s really important for our citizens,” City Councilor Turner said.