COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — The City Council here gave unanimous approval Tuesday to plans for two hotels at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon — despite a room full of protesters.

The council voted to change zoning on the parcel of land that was once home to the Canyon Racquet Club, just west of Wasatch Boulevard near 7300 South. The old zoning would have allowed many commercial uses such as used car dealerships and liquor establishments, but not hotels. The new mixed-use zoning allows homes and hotels in addition to light commercial use but prohibits bigger stores.

"There is no benefit if they put a hotel in a residential neighborhood," said resident Jan Nielsen. "We'd like to see more of an open-space mall. We're not opposed at all to some kind of commercial."

If built, these hotels would be the first in this three-year-old "city between the canyons."

Residents who spoke at an hourlong public hearing before the vote expressed concerns about increased traffic, crime and light pollution. They also cited a 1976 decision by Salt Lake County to deny plans for a hotel near the property in question.

"We already fought this battle and thought we were done," Nielsen said.

A few other residents were in favor of the hotels.

The property owner, Gary Harrison, has promised to build upscale hotels that would fit in well with the surrounding neighborhood, which is made up of older, high-end homes.

"I see an opportunity to solve some problems with this development," Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said. "Looking long-term, the concept of having strip malls or other types of retail-type outlets in the area will denigrate the neighborhood."

Before the hotels and homes are built, geotechnical studies must be done because the site sits on a fault. The developer will also have to write a site plan, study traffic impacts and go through a special architectural commission.

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