DRAPER After a heated debate Tuesday night, the Draper City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting secondhand stores in the heart of its retail district.
The ordinance hits a particularly sensitive chord with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had hoped to build a Deseret Industries store on 12300 South and 300 East.
"This body is trying to limit one specific entity from locating in this community," said Councilman Paul Edwards, one of two council members who voted against the ordinance.
"It's unfortunate that this body and this community has been painted with a raw brush that we're snobs. . . . And to propose an ordinance that's specific to one entity in a rapid, rash fashion is absolutely wrong."
The church-owned thrift store reportedly has been looking at a 5-acre spot east of I-15 as a possible site for a 38,000-square-foot store. But the ordinance passed Tuesday restricts secondhand stores larger than 5,000 square feet to a commercial zone west of the freeway.
"Unfortunately, I think this whole issue has been made into an emotional issue, dividing the city into east and west, versus haves and have-nots, and I think it's unfortunate," said Councilman Bill Colbert, who heavily pushed the ordinance with Councilwoman Stephanie Davis on Tuesday.
Colbert said he'd like to see a Deseret Industries in Draper, just not downtown.
"In looking at other communities, you don't see secondhand thrift stores being put in downtown redevelopment projects," he said. "You don't see The Gateway; you don't see those uses."
The ordinance was first proposed at the Jan. 3 council meeting, then sent to the Draper Planning Commission. The commission gave its endorsement later that month.
Colbert argued Draper, a relatively young city, needs to specify definitions of what is permitted in respective zones. Because zones were not defined, stores like a check-cashing service and a pawn shop sit at the gateway to the city, he said.
"I think that was wrong," he said. "Salt Lake doesn't allow this to occur in their prime real estate district. It doesn't occur downtown."
While ordinance opponents Edwards and Councilman Pete Larkin agreed Draper needs to spend some time defining zoning language, Larkin said the ordinance has far-reaching impacts the city someday will regret.
"I think this is a really poor way of doing it. You don't do it haphazardly as things come along," he said.
Larkin also questioned the intent, asking, "Why were secondhand stores over 5,000-square-feet singled out?"
Mayor Darrell Smith agreed and gave his opposition to the ordinance.
"This is a decision that is not for the common good of the whole of our community. And I mean that very sincerely," Smith said.
While some council members have argued a Deseret Industries doesn't fit with the demographics of Draper, Smith said many residents shop at secondhand stores and a Deseret Industries is needed for the community.
Late-night drop-offs and increased traffic were some of the main concerns addressed about Deseret Industries. About 80 percent of the store is devoted to retail space, and the other 20 percent accounts for storage and deliveries. Traffic needs could be better handled on the west side, opponents have argued.
But Larkin said Deseret Industries is no different than a grocery store like Albertson's or Smith's or even clothing stores like Kohl's, which dedicates roughly the same amount of space to storage. There is no reason to shuffle secondhand stores to the west side when delivery-oriented retail stores are in most business parks, he said.
"A lot of businesses are anticipating coming into our community, and we need to be more proactive in anticipating uses that have been defined in the past and make sure we're not opening up the community to an ad hoc patchwork of development, that we have some continuity, some consistency," said Councilman Jeff Stenquist, who voted for the ordinance.
"And that's the fundamental reason why we go through these land-use issues to make sure we preserve that."
The ordinance passed 3-2, with Larkin and Edwards voting against and Davis, Colbert and Stenquist voting in favor.