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Planned North Temple makeover too taxing, property owners tell Salt Lake City Council

SALT LAKE CITY — As officials prepare to move forward with plans for transforming North Temple into a "grand boulevard," some property owners along the road are upset about potentially footing some of the bill.

A special assessment area, which would run along North Temple from 400 West to 2400 West, would help raise about $17 million to pay for improvements along the street, but the cost could push some property owners out of business.

"This will not be a walkable street if you tax all these properties out of business," property owner Preston Menlove told the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday.

Menlove was one of a handful of property owners to express concerns about the assessment area, which could cost property owners an extra $202 per frontage foot. With property from 1260 West to 1400 West, Menlove's bill could exceed $300,000 over the next decade, he said.

Gary Sandberg, who owns property across from the fairgrounds, called the fee "unfair" and ill-timed.

"This is really not the time for us," Sandberg said. "We are struggling right now to take care of our tax obligations."

Mayor Ralph Becker said the city's plans for the assessment area "reflect an enormous amount of public input," stemming from dozens of meetings over the past several months.

Business owners also complained of the TRAX line limiting access to their business. TRAX would cut 11 left-hand turns down to two for Menlove.

"We're being taxed by the city for the sidewalk, and TRAX is taking our income," he said. "It's a business killer."

The city will hold a protest hearing for the district in April. If property owners, accounting for more than 50 percent of the frontage, protest the district, it would not be created.

That would send the city back to the drawing board, Becker said.

"The city has stretched itself financially to turn North Temple into a street that will be a great model for how we will build roads in the future," he said. "If for some reason funding isn't there, we're going to have to go back and re-evaluate things."

e-mail: afalk@desnews.com