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Senior apartments in Spanish Fork are a step closer

Sp.F. approves rezoning despite locals' concerns

SPANISH FORK — A proposed apartment complex for low-income senior citizens moved a step closer to reality, despite concerns raised by potential neighbors at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

The City Council approved a rezoning request for the property located at 1400 East and 1495 South but noted citizens will have another chance to weigh in on the project. Councilman Sherman Huff reminded the group that Tuesday's decision was strictly a rezoning issue and said there will be another public hearing when the 41-unit senior housing project itself comes before the council.

The senior complex is in the heart of a growing single-family residential area. Landowner Michael Gardner's request was for zoning to allow 12,000-square-foot lots (the prevalent size in the area) on this particular parcel and plans to seek zoning for 9,000-square-foot lots (also common to the area) on his remaining parcel.

City planner Emil Pierson said the proposed project would be allowed in either zone, although a conditional use permit would be required for the area with smaller lots.

Phil Carrol, president of Community Housing Services, which will build the project, said the usual occupants for these kinds of housing structures are single women in their mid-70s. To live in the complex, their annual income cannot exceed $17,000. The complex is tax exempt under Utah law.

Responding to concerns raised by residents who packed the meeting, Carrol said seniors renting at the complex will be screened to ensure there are no sexual predators.

The city's general use plan encourages mixed-use structures in residential neighborhoods to give them diversity. The city wants to avoid limiting apartment and duplex structures to a single area, Pierson said.

Residents also raised concerns about the proposed site's proximity to Canyon Elementary School.

"What elderly people would want to live behind an elementary school?" asked Tony Lewis.

Residents also cited the lack of shopping within walking distance, a fear that property values could decline, the potential impact on aesthetic views and increased traffic and safety concerns in their objections. They also worry the complex could eventually be converted to a regular apartment building.

Carrol said the federal grant that will finance the two-story structure requires it to remain low-income senior housing for 40 years.

"If it is not filled (with seniors), it will remain empty," he said.