The Cedar City Council has unanimously denied a request for a zone change that would allow construction a multiple-unit housing project, even though city officials said the project would help alleviate a serious housing shortage in the community.
The developer, represented by architect Lynn Elliot, had requested a change from Residential-2 to R-3 on a piece of property located in southwest Cedar City to build the first phase of a 140-unit housing project.The planned project had brought strenuous objections from neighborhood property owners, mostly centering on the increase of traffic and the safety to area children walking to and from a nearby elementary school.
The Planning and Zoning Commission denied the zone change twice, and the decision was appealed to the City Council earlier this month for review. The council took action following a public hearing last week.
Councilman Alan Hamlin said he felt the project was a worthy one and well-planned but said he found more negatives than positives when reviewing the community's master plan.
"I know we need housing in the worst way in this area, but we are in this for the long haul and I think it's in the wrong location," said Hamlin.
Councilman Dennis Johnson said there is no question Cedar City has a housing shortage. But he said the ground rules covering the areas of concern hadn't been sufficiently answered by the developer.
He said the access road to carry traffic to the college away from the residential area is still in question. "The question has not been addressed and I see no map showing where the road will be and no deeded property for it," said Johnson.
"This is not a vote against the college but one for good planning," concluded Johnson. A telephone survey of PTA members in the area showed that neighborhood residents opposed the development and feared for their children's safety.
One citizen said that the zone should not be changed to accommodate the needs of one developer but the entire good of the community should be considered. "There are other areas for R-3 housing," she said.
College officials said there is an acute need for married-student housing. Oak Hall, the on-campus residence hall for married students at Southern Utah State College, is full and has a long waiting list, the officials said. The situation will extend to single students by next fall.
The school reports an enrollment of 4,135, a 14 percent increase over last fall. The enrollment has grown from 2,106 in 1981 to the current level, a 96 percent enrollment increase in 10 years.
SUSC Vice President of Student Services Sterling Church, who said earlier Wednesday that the college would have no official spokesman at the public hearing, pointed out that state funds can't be used to build student housing and the college has limited bonding capability for student housing due to recent major proj-ects.
Mayor Harold Shirley told the Deseret News after the hearing that low- to moderate-cost housing is extremely hard to find in the community. People just starting out can't afford the $800 to $1,200 house payments required to purchase homes now on the market.
"Housing is a problem of major magnitude and proportions right now, and although single housing is available, the real problem is for young married students and other young marrieds moving here," said Shirley.
The City Council has authorized an 11-member Housing Committee, which held its first meeting Tuesday night, to address the problems of housing in the community.