By Kelsey Keener
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–The proposed SUU Housing District Zone was amended, then approved, during a special action meeting of the Cedar City Council last week.
Discussion over the proposed was held during the regular work meeting prior to the vote. City Manager Paul Bittmenn started by saying residents made several suggestions and there are now two options for the proposed zone. The suggestions by residents included keeping the building height capped at 35 feet, keeping the parking requirement at .85 stalls per occupant and a requirement of minimum lot sizes.
Councilman Ron Adams reminded those who attended the meeting that if the zone is adopted, anyone who wants to build something using that zone will still have to go through all the steps normally required.
Councilman Craig Isom asked for clarification on the building height requirement. Spencer Jones addressed this, stating that allowing buildings to be 50 feet makes them more financially feasible for multiple reasons.
When the public comment session was opened on this item, many community members addressed the Council with concerns and opinions. A few residents urged the council to take more time and gather more information before voting. Some were still concerned about the parking requirement or suggested a transit system. A few people also spoke in favor of the zone.
Ben Batty, Iron County Home Builders Association president, said he understands the residents’ concerns, but said construction is an important part of Cedar City’s economy and newer apartment buildings will be safer for students.
“Our highest and best use is to grow and you as a council, I think, have the obligation to help one of the largest industries,” he said. “If I was sending my daughter to the school I would rather her be in a safe, fire protected newer building … so that if something does happen she will be safe. And this zone will create that.”
Janet McCrea warned about potentially land locking the university.
“I would like to ask you to take further time to consider this,” she said. “One thing about concentrating all the student housing around the university is that it could land lock it so that when it grows in the future … the university is landlocked by residential buildings. I think we need more time to think about this.”
Brian Johnson said Cedar City is a college town and the town needs to grow with the college.
“This is a college town: sooner or later we’re going to have to grow with the college and we have to give them a place to live,” Johnson said. “It’s interesting to me that you don’t have very many college students come to these meetings because … they’re busy doing college, but when they do come they all say, ‘Man, I’d really like to live closer to the college and not have to drive my car.’ That’s what they want; they don’t want to park in front of your house. They hate parking in front of your house. If you put them all in one spot they’ll just walk to school.”
During the special work meeting following the public discussion, the council deliberated and ultimately voted to approve the ordinance that will create the SHD Zone, using the original proposal but amended to raise the parking requirement from .7 spots per occupant to .75.