Some residents are concerned that a 23-year-old zoning ordinance has left them no say in community development. But the City Council recently rescinded a moratorium that would have given it time to update the ordinance.
The council voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution immediately rescinding a six-month moratorium on commercial building permits - a moratorium it approved in April.The council took the action after residents protested the sale of 14 undeveloped acres between State Street and Trinnaman Lane to a dry-ice storage business and a decorative concrete manufacturer.
Residents also are concerned that a conflict of interest existed because Mayor Guy Cash, a real estate agent, represented both the purchasers and sellers of the property.
"We had a continual series of meetings," said resident Reed Sunderland, 1900 N. Trinnaman Lane. "We felt there was a lot of strong-arm tactics from the mayor" on council members to rescind the moratorium.
Charles Baum, president of B.C. Ice, Salt Lake City, said he was interested in purchasing the property and asked Cash to locate its owner and investigate the property's zoning.
"But when the red flags went up, we talked to the townspeople and decided we didn't want to be anywhere we're not wanted," he said. Baum is now looking for property in Salt Lake County.
Councilman Keith Jenkins, chairman of the planning commission, said the residents' concerns resulted from an "outdated" master plan that zoned the Trinnaman property as General Commercial-1.
That zoning allows for any form of business or building to be built without consideration for the type of business or building size.
"You can have a chicken hatchery built next to your house," Jenkins said.
Residents initially believed there was nothing they could do to change the property's zoning and that the City Council had no authority to rezone private property.
Kevin Murray, a Salt Lake attorney who represents the Citizens for Better Lehi Committee, said he told his clients "city councils have the power to rezone at any time, as long as they are acting in the public's general welfare."
The council's moratorium was an attempt to halt piecemeal development and not to stop business and industry from moving to Lehi, Murray said.
"Real estate brokers were concerned that there would be an inability to move property," he said.
As part of the new resolution passed, the City Council has until May 28 to develop a plan to rezone commercial and industrial sections of Lehi.