The audience broke into applause Tuesday as the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to approve a new zoning ordinance that broadly overhauls land-use designations throughout the city.
"You've witnessed a historic event this evening," said Councilman Keith Christensen.Four years in the making, the new document is the first complete update of the city's zoning laws in 70 years. The new ordinance took effect immediately, which means three moratoriums in place throughout the city are now over.
The council acknowledged some changes it institutes will be painful for some property owners, but said overall the new ordinance safeguards the broad interests of the community.
"This is really a snapshot in time," said Councilman Alan Hard-man. "We're a living, breathing city and, hopefully, this will be a living, breathing document."
In fact, the document was being adapted to address concerns raised by property owners almost up until the last minute. Among the changes Planning Director Bill Wright said had been made were:
- Duplexes and twin homes located in zones changed from R2 to R1 designations will be given legally conforming status, which means they can be remodeled or replaced if destroyed by a calamity. Vacant lots that have less than the 8,000 square feet required in the R1 zone also will be considered legal.
- The section dealing with signs has been adopted on a temporary basis and will undergo further work.
- The condominium approval process has been left intact.
- The RMU zone, a resi-den-tial/commercial mixed use designation applied to part of east downtown, will not be phased in. The ordinance will allow buildings up to 75 feet in height and 125 feet with a conditional use permit.
- Buildings in the RO (residential or office) zone may go from four to six stories if they abut zones that allow taller structures.
- In the Capitol Hill overlay zone, the city will protect views of the Capitol along North Temple by not permitting exceptions to the maximum height allowed for buildings.
- Between 900 South and 2100 South on State Street the city will retain the commercial corridor designation and not require buildings to be set back 15 feet from the roadway. Businesses located along the corridor that fall in the BP zone may be as tall as six stories.
- A provision for creation of a design review committee has been eliminated; the Planning Commission will continue to carry out that task.
- The Staker and Hughes gravel pit businesses along 2200 North and Beck Street will retain their previous zoning designations until October 1, 1995. In the interim, the businesses and city will try to settle whether the companies have the right to operate in the area and develop a reclamation plan for the land.
Before the council voted on the ordinance Tuesday, they heard from a stream of people concerned about how their properties would be affected by the new zones.
Property owners unhappy with the changes wrought by the new zoning ordinance will still have the right to pursue variances and conditional-use permits to alter the use of property, Wright said.
"The City Council sets the policy for land use," Wright said. "If (property owners) don't agree, they will have to demonstrate why what they want would be a better land use and in keeping with the master plan."
The ordinance also scraps the right of community organizations to seek zone changes, which brought criticism from several residents. The council said property owners' rights were paramount to the interests of community groups and that council members could act as advocates for groups wanting zoning changes.
"This is not a perfect proposal. It could not be perfect from everyone's perspective, but overall it's a good document," Christensen said.