JT Martin called it "a helluva way to break in a new councilman."
Despite a parade to the podium of residents opposed to restrictions on how private property owners can utilize their land near creek and stream banks, the Salt Lake City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to do just that.
"It would certainly be an understatement to say this has been anything less than controversial," Martin said.
The overwhelming majority of people who spoke during a public hearing Tuesday did so in opposition to the ordinance, saying it decreases the value of their property and unfairly blames owners with steams or creeks on their property for water pollution.
"This ordinance will adversely affect rights of property owners," said Susan Webster, who lives near Red Butte Creek. "It will effectively wipe out the economic value (of our property). ... We will not stand for this."
The ordinance puts restrictions in place on new construction, changes to existing structures and other ground disturbances within 100 feet of waterways in the city east of I-215, specifically Emigration, Red Butte, Parleys and City creeks.
The ordinance sets guidelines for what can and can't be done on property within 100 feet, 50 feet and 25 feet of creek or stream banks, growing more restrictive closer to the waterway. All existing construction and structures are grandfathered in.
Webster and others who spoke during the public hearing hinted at legal action against the city if the ordinance was approved.
Reasons for the zoning change, according to the ordinance, include minimizing erosion, stabilizing stream banks, improving water quality, preserving fish and wildlife habitat and reducing potential for flood damage.
Several residents have disputed those claims, saying the real reason for the ordinance is the council's desire to stop a proposed development in the Wasatch Hollow community.
Last July, the council put a six-month moratorium on any development within 100 feet of stream and creek corridors to study what type of permanent protection needed to be put in place. The council reaffirmed its commitment to those studies Tuesday, though they haven't been done yet.
Council members have said the moratorium stemmed from discussion about a proposed development of roughly two acres of land behind Wasatch Hollow Park and along Emigration Creek. The proposed development brought to the council's attention the lack of protection for stream corridors in city code.
Van Turner, the lone council member to vote against the ordinance, said stopping the development "may have been the reason" for the moratorium.
Marjie Brown, who doesn't own property along a waterway but described herself as an environmental activist, called the ordinance "grossly incomplete and written in reverse," saying studies should be done before the ordinance is passed.
Others pointed out that the city is more to blame for pollution of waterways for using them as dumping points for storm drains.
Council chairwoman Jill Remington Love said the City Council has a legal responsibility to take action before the moratorium ends Thursday.
"We're publicly saying we have heard you," Love told members of the public. "We know this in only one little piece, and we're going to get to the rest of the puzzle."
Martin's motion to approve the ordinance included stipulations that the public hearing be continued for 180 days, during which the council will work with city staff and residents to refine the ordinance.
In other actions:
• The City Council unanimously passed a revamped resolution reaffirming the goals, policies and recommendations of the Sugar House Community Master Plan and encouraging the preservation of historic buildings.
The resolution takes a softer tone than the one proposed in November by Soren Simonsen, who represents much of Sugar House on the Salt Lake City Council. Some council members said they felt the original resolution unfairly singled out recent and current projects and implied that the city incorrectly issued permits leading to demolition or alterations to historically significant buildings.
The revised resolution acknowledges community concerns about the losses or alterations of significant buildings as a catalyst for the reaffirmation of the master plan but does not point to specific projects or imply that the city didn't follow the master plan.
The city has spent about $52,000 on a historic building survey of the Sugar House Business District, identifying 45 buildings of potential historic significance. Those buildings now are undergoing a intensive-level survey, which will be used to develop design guidelines for historic structures.
• At the request of the City Council, Provo attorney Neil Lindberg gave a legal review of Salt Lake City's sexually oriented business ordinance during Tuesday's work session.
Lindberg was hired by the council to offer a second opinion on the city's actions regarding the Blue Boutique opening in a neighborhood commercial zone in Sugar House.
Despite objections from Sugar House residents, Salt Lake City attorney Ed Rutan last month said the adult-novelty store does not qualify as an SOB, allowing it to locate at the corner of 1400 East and 2100 South. Lindberg supported that assessment, saying Salt Lake City attorneys and staff "did an excellent job" in interpreting city code.
• Meeting in its capacity as the city's Redevelopment Agency board of directors earlier Tuesday, the City Council allocated up to $2,500 from its arts budget to cover costs of removing, storing and reinstalling the sidewalk compass on 1100 East in Sugar House.
Community leaders and activists have been fighting to save the compass, a fixture of the Sugar House Business District for about 50 years, from being destroyed during the redevelopment of the Granite Block.Demolition work began earlier this month for a development by Craig Mecham Investments that will replace existing structures on part of the Granite Block with two seven-story buildings with a mix of retail, office and residential space.