The Salt Lake City Council passed a demolition-control ordinance in a special session Thursday, prompting Councilman W.M. "Willie" Stoler to say the council ignored the city's "money-makers and the movers and shakers."
The ordinance does not provide exemptions earlier pondered for three businesses that filed demolition permits for six downtown buildings. The permits were held in abeyance pending Thursday's vote on the ordinance.Scores of businessmen attended two previous hearings on the ordinance to alternately praise and condemn the ordinance, which makes downtown building demolitions and subsequent parking-lot construction a conditional use.
Stoler said many who attended the hearings and spoke against the ordinance represented the "money-makers and movers and shakers" in the city's central business district, yet the council failed to heed their advice.
"If we don't listen to this type of people, who do we listen to," Stoler asked before the 4-2 vote.
"You're not suggesting we should listen to those who have the money," said Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck.
Stoler denied he was only responding to the city's financial leaders, saying later their opinions should be "weighted."
The ordinance affects only downtown buildings and makes demolitions and parking lots subject to Planning Commission approval. The ordinance requires post-demolition plans be consistent with a "desirable development pattern."
Evidence that parking is needed and that buildings to be demolished are not economically viable must be presented to the commission. Parking lots must have a minimum of 18 square feet of landscaping for each stall, the ordinance said.
Councilwoman Florence Bittner said the ordinance would lead to the "disinvestment of downtown." The law will send property values plummeting because businesses won't be able to raze uneconomical buildings, she said.
Additionally, the ordinance gives the city more power to interfere with local businesses. "Government is essentially a parasite on the economic body," she said.
But Councilwoman Roselyn Kirk disagreed, noting that most business people at the public hearings favored the ordinance. "Businessmen are for it," she said.
Tuesday, four different ordinances were drafted, several of which would have exempted three businesses with demolition permits for downtown buildings. The ordinance passed Thursday allows no exemptions.
Questar Corp., whose subsidiaries include the Interstate Land Corp. and Mountain Fuel Supply Co. wants to tear down the old Utah-Idaho Building, 155-157 S. State.
Zions Bank, in cooperation with the development company Gerald D. Hines Interests, wants to destroy four buildings at 20-31 W. First South and 116-118 S. Main St.
After Mayor Palmer Depaulis said Monday that Interstate and Zions could be exempted from the ordinance, the Newspaper Agency Corp. filed a demolition permit for the old Tampico Restaurant, 150 S. Regent St.
All three companies must go before the Planning Commission before they can obtain a demolition permit.
Stoler and Bittner voted against the measure. Council members Fonnesbeck, Kirk, Alan Hardman and Chairman Tom Godfrey voted in favor of the law. Councilman Wayne Horrocks left the meeting early because of an emergency and didn't vote.