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Planning commissioner apologizes for Holladay Village decision

HOLLADAY — Two former planning commissioners are waging war against Holladay Village Center, saying the planned retail center and apartment complex are contrary to the will of the people.

Helen Redd and Bob Neslen were on the city board when the project was in its infancy and say current plans for three-story buildings are inconsistent with their vision. They also question the amount of parking that will be provided and the mix of just one story of shops and two stories of apartments.

Plans for Holladay Village have been under way since May 2000.

"This project does not meet the expectation of the (residents) as expressed then, and it does not meet the master plan now," Redd said. "I don't understand how this happened."

Holladay Village is being built on land that was purchased by the city but sold at a loss to developer Cowboy Partners. Roads throughout the project area at the intersection of Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay Boulevard and 2300 East already have been torn up and rebuilt to accommodate the center.

The appellants had a chance to explain their views Thursday to the Holladay City Council. Following allegations that the Planning Commission hadn't done its job, board Chairman Richard Kimball took the stand.

"I'm guilty of too easily being persuaded by what seemed good arguments," Kimball said. "The original vision of the city that has been mentioned was not something that I grasped."

If he could, Kimball would take back his decision on the apartments and the parking, he said.

"I stand here ashamed, chagrined and can only hope there is a way to achieve what Helen and Bob optimistically say is possible," he finished. "Please forgive me."

The dramatic mea culpa surprised the crowd of about 40 that had gathered for the hearing. But it was followed by other commissioners' defending themselves and statements of support from Mayor Dennis Webb and Councilman James Palmer.

Next, Cowboy Partners agent Dan Lofgren took the stand to assure the council that his plan meets parking regulations and that it will meet the high expectations of Holladay residents.

"This is a project that will literally raise the ceiling in terms of apartment business in the Salt Lake Valley," Lofgren said.

The City Council is tasked with deciding the appeal but didn't vote Thursday. The council will consider the arguments and give applicants speedy due process, Webb said.

In December 2009, the City Council rejected an appeal filed against a different Planning Commission decision about the same project.