Parts of the first phase of the Downtown Master Plan dealing with parking, pedestrian traffic, neighborhoods, housing and open space are either too broad and need to be rewritten, or need to be eliminated.
That's the opinion of the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, which Tuesday voted to send a letter to Salt Lake County Planning Commission Chairman John Schumann. The letter was signed by Kent W. Winterholler, chairman of the chamber's City and County Government Committee.The letter complimented the planning commission for its efforts to write a plan that will guide development of the city for many years but expressed concern over some language in the plan, which was the subject of a public hearing late last year.
The letter also takes issue with the area considered as "downtown." The letter asks why the boundaries should extend to Seventh East and Sixth South and says some rationale should be given when determining boundaries.
Winterholler said his committee endorses the plan's recommendation that public funds be used to stimulate private investment in the downtown area.
The plan suggests the creation of a downtown environment that would establish the pedestrian as the primary user, but the letter said the statement could imply that vehicle traffic should be abolished.
"We do not believe this statement is compatible with downtown commercial enterprises and also believe it is not conducive to, or compatible with, office development in downtown Salt Lake City. Therefore, it is our belief that this statement is overbroad and should either be eliminated or rewritten," the letter said.
A rewrite is also requested on a section dealing with neighborhoods. While the committee agrees that neighborhoods need to be preserved and strengthened, it believes the plan's language could prohibit the redevelopment of neighborhoods.
The letter points out that the plan, as presently written, could prevent the commercial development of neighborhoods adjacent to downtown if such development becomes desirable sometime in the future.
Although the committee believes that existing housing should be preserved, there may be some housing located within the downtown boundary that should be replaced or upgraded significantly. To prevent a ban on commercial development in housing areas, the committee wants the statement revised.
The plan suggests solidifying and promoting specialized districts, "each with its own identity based on scale of buildings, intensity of activities and mix of uses." The committee believes this statement is a prelude to more regulation that would prevent the market from determining those activities and the mix of buildings allowed.
Winterholler said committee members are confused over the statement in the plan that says conflicting issues on parking should be resolved. They want the term parking defined.
Regarding a statement in the plan calling for open space in the downtown area, the letter asks if open space means a park or a government center.