By Kelsey Keener
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–A zone ordinance to change the parking space requirement for single-occupancy housing establishments was considered by the Cedar City Council during last Wednesday’s City Council meeting. It could be voted on during tonight’s council meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
The proposed ordinance would change the parking requirement for single-occupancy housing from .85 stalls per bedroom to .65 stalls per bedroom. Several citizens were in attendance at the meeting to address the council with their concerns and opinions, including members of the Iron County Home Builders Association, SUU employees, apartment complex owners and residents who live near the SUU campus.
The intention of lowering the parking requirement is to make it more affordable and profitable for local contractors and developers to build new housing for the growing amount of SUU students, as opposed to the Utah Division of Facilities and Construction Management getting involved and using contractors from northern Utah.
Marvin Dodge, vice president of finance and administration at SUU, brought up the growth of SUU and the challenges that the university is facing as a result. One of those issues is housing for students, and he said he feels allowing local contractors to help tackle this issue is the better option.
“Part of our involvement in this group of developers is that we really believe the private sector is better poised and prepared to address the student housing issue here in Cedar City and help the university out,” he said. “When DFCM gets involved in those projects, often they’re hiring major contractors out of the Salt Lake Valley. We try to get them to use local contractors wherever we can, but their standards are different.”
Andy Funderburk, president of the Iron County Home Builders Association, said the change to this ordinance could benefit local contractors and they would like to be available to help solve the student-housing problem. He explained that currently, single-occupancy housing is what is in demand, but because of the current parking requirements it is less profitable for local contractors to build such housing as it requires more land-acquisition than double-occupancy.
“Double-occupancy housing has a 1.3 parking requirement,” Funderburk said. “What is in demand right now is single-occupancy rooms, and that requirement at .85 is much higher per student. As our board has discussed this, we just feel like this review and change to this ordinance could benefit local contractors in building these projects and in keeping a lot of the money for these projects local. Our concern is that if it’s not filled by our contractors it’ll be filled by out-of-town contractors.”
Funderburk added that if out-of-town contractors are hired to build new student housing, they do not have to abide by this ordinance.
Councilman Paul Cozzens said he spoke with Fire Chief Mike Phillips, who is concerned with the safety of students. Cozzens said there are many instances of students renting rooms in houses with more occupants than the house is intended for, which results in inadequate parking space. Building more student housing close to campus equipped with alarms and sprinklers is not only safer for students in the event of a fire, but will also aid in decreasing the number of students parking in public streets.
Many residents were still concerned that building near campus will increase the amount of students parking on public streets because lowering the requirement of parking spaces for single-occupancy may mean there are not enough spaces for the students living in new apartments near campus. Some residents were also concerned with the potential negative effects on the integrity of the city that could be caused by building close to campus and downtown.