The Salt Lake County Planning Commission unanimously recommended denying a developer’s request to rezone a parcel of land at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Tavaci development was initially approved as a subdivision for single family homes. But the owner is pursuing the rights to build something larger.
The hearing lasted four hours Wednesday morning as many Cottonwood Heights residents and canyon enthusiasts attacked the proposed rezone. Many believe a high-rise commercial development would be inappropriate and environmentally irresponsible. The commission cited several reasons for denying the request, including a lack of road access and potentially intrusive building heights.
Commission Chair Julia Tillou said it’s a tug of war between property rights and zoning.
“We do have conflicting interests with this is my property; I should be able to make use of my property and get the benefits of ownership from it," Tillou said. "However we also have to consider, and this is what we do in communities, we have zoning because we’re considering the fact that what I do on mine may very well impact the enjoyment you get from yours.”
When Cottonwood Heights denied developer Terry Diehl’s request for a rezone, he disaffiliated his property with the city and sought consent from Salt Lake County.
The Salt Lake County planning commission was tasked with vetting Diehl’s application and submitting a recommendation to the Salt Lake County Council for consideration.
Cottonwood Heights resident and political activist Clair Geddes accused Diehl of what she calls zoning shopping, saying her trust in the process is diminished.
“If you don’t get the outcome you want in the city, you just pick up your ball and all your toys and you go down to the county and you get what you want," Geddes said.
Attorney Matt Muir represented Terry Diehl at Wednesday’s meeting.
“My client doesn’t want to build something unsafe. He doesn’t want to build something unsightly," Muir said. "My client wants to do something that’s an asset to the community.”
Despite the planning commission’s decision to deny Diehl’s application, the Salt Lake County council will have the final say. It’s unclear when the council will consider the commission’s recommendation and vote on the rezone proposal.