Maybe this whole transit-oriented development thing isn't such a keen idea after all.

Salt Lake City's proposed TOD ordinance has been championed by Mayor Rocky Anderson. But city planners, certain City Council members and some residents near 400 South are worried.

They say the planned TOD ordinance, which allows for greater building heights along light-rail corridors like certain parts of 400 South, will create more ugly monstrosities that are bad for the neighborhood.

Case in point: the huge Emigration Court apartment complex going up between 500 East and 600 East, just off 400 South.

If the TOD ordinance is passed (it is expected to come before the City Council this summer), it will allow for more tall projects like Emigration Court.

Tom Mutter, chair of the Central City Neighborhood Council, said neighbors remain upset at the complex's unsightly largeness and are miffed that eight single-family homes were demolished to make way for the building.

If more apartment buildings — which can rise up to 75 feet under the TOD ordinance — are placed along 400 South, Mutter said it will destroy precious mountain views residents enjoy.

"In the past, 400 South has been considered a view corridor," Mutter said. "Now, if you get these 75-foot tall buildings along 400 South, it's going to be more of a canyon."

Mutter and his council maintain such developments should be concentrated near Library Square and downtown, and not travel so far east up 400 South into residential, single-family neighborhoods. A previous version of the city's TOD ordinance allowed for such heights on 400 South all the way to 900 East.

At the mayor's office, spokeswoman Deeda Seed said she understands concerns will follow new ideas. But she maintains transit-oriented develop- ment is important for the future of Salt Lake City.

Such large developments allow people to exist without cars. They can take public transportation throughout the valley and have easy access to commercial districts with grocery stores and other services.

"It's very understandable that with that high of density, people get nervous," Seed said. "(But) from our perspective, there are a lot of positives. . . . We need to increase the density in this part of our city and we believe the most logical place to get that is in an area around downtown."

While she often disagrees with the mayor's office, District 4 City Councilwoman Nancy Saxton is on board with transit-oriented development.

While it may take some getting used to, higher densities should be welcome along transit lines, Saxton said. Emigration Court is difficult to take right now because it is the only large building in the area; but in time, people will like the project, she said.

"The height is shocking because there's nothing else high on that block, but that is the direction we are going," Saxton said. "It's something that's going to have to grow on us in changing to a much more urban feel to Salt Lake City. We've been kind of a small-town city for a long time. We are stepping it up."


E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com