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Murray Journal

Murray City limits height and parking for old city hall property.

Mar 30, 2023 04:22PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray City Hall is rezoned, limiting any future project to six stories. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

At a crowded March 7 City Council meeting, Murray leaders heard comments regarding a zoning change regarding the soon-to-be-vacated City Hall. At issue were zoning changes to the Murray City Center District (which contains City Hall) that impact any development planned for the site. In sum, the city listed the property’s restrictions to buyers and allowed it for sale.

“Tonight, we’re going to focus on three things that the Planning Commission forwarded recommendations to you about. They involve height, parking, landscaping and open space, and those are the only items we’ve proposed changes to at this time,” Murray City Planning Director Jared Hall said.

Height restrictions were a topic of concern before the meeting. In August, the council held a workshop to discuss the property. The minutes record City Councilor Gary Hrechkosy’s thoughts on the property stating, “…being less restrictive in height at the current city hall property where the highest market value could be generated.”

Area residents near Murray Park have expressed derision about the height of a seven-story apartment tower being constructed on Vine Steet. Area residents have also voiced their concerns to the council since that meeting causing the city to shy away from anything near the height of Intermountain Medical’s 14-story tower across the street.

“The proposal is that buildings in this area south of Vine Street and east of State Street would not be allowed to exceed six stories or 70 feet in height,” Hall said. “During the Planning Commission discussion (we were) asked why we would have a height restriction that included both stories and height, and that’s because…people use different heights for different stories for different building purposes. So we wanted to have two different limitations so that there’s a lesser than the component of the required height in this area six stories or 70 feet.”

Clark Bullen, who resides near city hall, expressed concerns about the project’s density and said, “It is my understanding that if these three simple changes are approved, then the property will be marketed to those interested in purchasing it with this zoning in mind. The RDA already decided to sell this property; they already contracted with a realtor, and that realtor is waiting for the go-ahead to market this property. 

“Now, the only thing that determines how the property is marketed, based on my understanding of my conversations, is how the zoning is set up now. If the zoning is set up with 80 units per acre, then we are putting it out on the market that you can put 80 units per acre on a six-acre property up to 480 units. If we don’t want this to become an apartment complex, then we should consider doing less density or removing the density and making it a commercial-only property.”

Later in the hearing, Hall addressed this, stating that 480 units would not be allowed to be constructed.

Hall said, “We talk about the housing a lot because that is a critical component. It’s something that concerns folks, but this property is not zoned multi-family. This property is already zoned mixed-use. So, what that means is that on State Street, we require a commercial component. It cannot be simply 480 apartment units, period. It’ll have a commercial component.”

However, some residents oppose even tearing down city hall based on the historic nature of the building. Constructed in the 1930s to be the home of Arlington Elementary School, the building was renovated in the 1970s to become Murray City Hall. However, preservationists like the Historic Murray First Foundation voiced concerns about accepting the zoning change.

Rachel Morot, vice president of the HMFF, said, “There is a public will for this building to stay standing, and we realized that it’s serving a number of purposes. It’s important in its own right, as this is a historic building and should be continued to be reused and to serve the city and the citizens, and it can be done. I also understand that it is a hindrance to those that would like to have it removed so that they can put up new things that are bigger and have more capacity, so depending on what side of the equation you’re on, it is an important question.”

City Councilor Phil Markham brought up Morot’s plans for the property. Markham said, “She talked about she’s in discussion with a developer on her own to make a restaurant cooperative here. That’s wonderful, that’s great, that’s progress, let’s work in that direction. If you really feel strongly about this, be proactive, don’t be negative, tearing down, or ruining the process.”

Other components that the zoning change will force developers to have 1.5 parking spaces per unit. The city’s proposal also increased the amount of landscaping and open space required in this area of the MCCD. 

“Again, these are changes that would allow us to limit the height, increase that landscaping and increase the parking standards a little bit and make us more comfortable with this area of the MCCD zone,” Hall said.

The city council voted unanimously to approve the changes to the MCCD. While the resolution does not guarantee a particular fate for city hall, it effectively places it on the market with these designations. 

Orden Yost of Colliers International will act as the city’s real estate broker to sell the city hall property. According to Murray City’s Chief Administrative Office, the city hopes to sell the property within three months.