Developer Marvin Blosch got what he wanted from the City Council on Tuesday - sort of.
He wanted apartments. He got light industrial, and he said he could live with that.Blosch had wanted the council to amend the city's general plan to allow apartments on the western portion of land he wants to develop in an area between I-15 and 800 West near 500 South. He has previously said that without apartments, the whole development - including motels, restaurants and storage units - would be a bust.
The land has long been an eyesore, and city officials have been anxious for years to get something nice on it.
But the council balked at allowing apartments because of safety concerns. The development is near the Phillips oil refinery and right next to the Phillips loading dock, where tankers are filled. Should, say, an explosion occur and nearby residents be injured, the city would be first in line to be sued, some council members said.
The council had wanted Blosch to provide data on safety and discuss whether the dangers could be mitigated, but Blosch had no data. He said safety matters shouldn't be addressed until a request for a rezone.
"We're asking for the concept to be looked at and approved," he said.
He dismissed data on noise and safety gathered by Housing and Urban Development Agency officials as irrelevant, since HUD funds will not be used in the project.
"The HUD information is totally useless to me," he said.
If the development goes through, the city will give tax-increment help through its redevelopment agency.
Instead of allowing apartments, the council voted to amend the general plan to allow a mixture of commercial and light industrial uses in the area, which would enable Blosch to expand a block of planned storage units and install other businesses that would make the development profitable.
"Even by taking out some of those things to the west (the apartments), we've still got an $18 to $20 million project," he said.
Blosch said he might come back to the council for another apartment request, depending on how a safety analysis goes.
Some city officials had objected to apartments because of noise concerns. I-15 is nearby, along with well-traveled 500 South and 800 West and a set of railroad tracks. But Councilman Darin Hicks downplayed the objection.
"If I put any stock in (noise concerns) we'd have to take out half the homes in Woods Cross," he said. "C'mon guys - it's noisy around here."