SUU housing challenges discussed by council

By Kelsey Keener

Iron County Today

CEDAR CITY–The Cedar City Council discussed a plan to deal with the current housing difficulties facing SUU, which would create the SUU Housing District zone, during the City Council meeting on Jan. 17. They may take a vote on a new General Land Use Plan tonight.

The plan was listed on the agenda for the Jan. 17 meeting in two items. The first part of this plan involves amending the city’s General Land Use Plan in order to make an SUU Housing area. The second part would create the SHD zone, amending city ordinance Chapter 26 Article III. The area in consideration begins at 200 North, going south to 400 South, and from I-15 going west to 300 West.

The purpose of the amendment to the General Land Use Plan is to create student-housing opportunities within walking distance of SUU.

SUU, the Iron County Home Builders Association and various developers have proposed changes to building requirements for the area around SUU so that local builders may be better able to meet the demands of the growing student population. The plan discussed is the City Staff’s suggestion in response to these proposals.

The only requested change the city is not in agreement with is the lowering of the parking requirement. The city had a study conducted on current housing structures and felt the request .65 stalls per occupant is not sufficient. The suggestion from the city is instead .70 stalls per occupants.

The ordinance amendment would not change any current property rights or property zones, and is intended to allow developers to purchase land then apply for zone changes as necessary through the existing procedure for zone changes.

Many residents addressed the council with concerns about the possible changes. Some were worried about being relocated from their homes or that potential new housing would create more parking problems rather than help resolve them. Others were concerned with what the changes might mean for neighborhood conservation and quality and potential safety issues with the allowance of increased density. Several residents were also concerned with the possibility of larger buildings near or next to their homes.

Bryan Thompson said buying a home was a big investment for him and he is concerned about the potential changes.

“I’m fine with other apartment buildings, but a 50-foot building that can butt right up against my property is kind of frustrating,” Thompson said. “I want people to be able to do things with their property that they’re allowed to do, but changing what can be done after people have already invested… I’m just not so sure I want a big building right next door.”

Andy Funderburk, President Iron County Home Builders Association, offered the HBA’s thoughts on the matter.

“I just want to say that we’re in favor of this proposed zone availability,” he said. “I think most of the room here can agree that we all have someone tied to this industry, we all have a family member or a friend who makes their living off construction or as a supplier or subcontractor. We want to encourage jobs, we want to encourage opportunities and we feel like this does that. We can’t stop the growth, we can only provide for our future and we feel like this is a good opportunity for our children and members of our association.”

The council will likely vote on the amendment to the General Land Use Plan and the ordinance during tonight’s meeting.

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