Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Working with developers on newly created districts in city code

Jul 31, 2018 01:07PM ● By Cassie Goff

Development plans for an Ivory Commercial housing unit have been submitted to the planning commission. (Photo courtesy of Ivory Commercial)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

There is a 16-page zoning designation called the Planned Development District (PDD) within the Cottonwood Heights City code. Two new developments aim to take advantage of the PDD, and it will be the first time any application has been made to gain the specified zoning.

Zoning Designation

The PDD Chapter (19.51) of the Cottonwood Heights Code of Ordinances was adopted on October 13, 2015. It was enacted to allow specialized zoning in areas where future growth was anticipated within the city. These areas were split into three tiers. Tier 1 includes the vicinity of the Wasatch Boulevard gravel pit property. Tier 2 includes intersection nodes along Fort Union Boulevard at 1300 East and Union Park Avenue, and along Highland Drive at 2300 East, as well as the Old Mill site on Wasatch Boulevard. Tier 3 includes certain areas along Fort Union Boulevard and Union Park Avenue.

Developers can apply for Planned Development Zone Ordinances (PDZ) on properties within the tiers of the PDD. If a developer wishes to construct a building outside of what the designated zoning allows, PDZs are an attractive option, as developers work with city officials to write their own ordinance for their proposed development.

Unlike a typical re-zone request where city officials are not allowed to ask developers what they plan to build, a PDZ allows many different city officials to be intensely involved in the planning process.

“Developers come to the city council early on, before an application has been made, and partner with the city for the final project to benefit all parties involved,” said Community and Economic Development Director Mike Johnson.

When applying for a PDZ, an applicant (which is usually the developer) must go through a lengthy process. Before a plan can even be submitted, the applicant must meet with the community and economic development director for a pre-application conference. Then, the applicant may create a concept plan showing all proposed streets, alleys, drives, buildings, screening, uses of building and land, building heights, topography and other features to present to the planning commission. The applicant then has to hold at least two community workshops where they take comments from residents into consideration so they can draft a PDZ plan, which they work over with city staff members.

Once that draft has been completed, the applicant can finally submit a formal application which must consist of a comprehensive development plan, a copy of the current recorded deed, documentation of community workshops, current aerial of the site overlaid with the proposed plan, an analysis of impact, a traffic study and other various statements. (Additionally, the applicant must be sensitive to specific designations for their relative tier. For example, in Tier 2 the maximum building height is 50 feet. In Tier 1, 25 percent of the gross lot area has to be open space.)

The application is reviewed by city planners before notice is sent out for additional public hearings and meetings. After those meetings, the application is presented to the planning commission where they vote for denial or recommend approval to the city council. If the planning commission votes on recommending approval, the application is presented to the Cottonwood Heights City Council where they take additional public comment and hold the final vote.

“Getting developers in early and often will be critical to the process,” Johnson told the city council. “By the end of the process, you know exactly what you are getting when you approve that rezone.”


Currently, there are two applicants working through the process to apply for a PDZ. One development is referred to as the ICO or ICO Creekside; the other is referred to as the Gravel Pit or Wasatch Pit.

The undeveloped 5.93-acre piece of land on 1300 E. 6784 S. will be transformed into a small single-family residential development by Ivory Commercial (ICO). The proposed development will be three four-story buildings with an overall density of 35 units per acre. It is anticipated to have surface and underground parking, two monument signs, office space and discounted senior housing units.

The first formal public hearing for the ICO PDZ was held on June 20. Notices for this meeting were mailed to property owners within 1,000 feet of the property. The second public hearing was held on July 11. Currently, the development plans are being discussed in the planning commission where they will be taking public comment until at least Aug. 1.

“It’s important to keep transit connection, walkability and open spaces for the single-family area,” applicant Kris Longson from Ivory Commercial said. “We have controls in the PDD zone to see how the open space is laid out.”

Plans for the Gravel Pit development along Wasatch Boulevard are in preliminary stages. On July 10, developer Tom Henriod and his partner Adam Davis presented concept plans to the city council. They had three different sketches to present, one being referred to as the most ambitious plan while the other two plans are more conservative.

Their development plan will be constrained by parking. If surface parking is the only option for the site, there will be room for two hotels. However, if the developers can plan on a parking structure, they can move forward with their more ambitious plan. The site would then be able to accommodate office space, at least one 140-bed hotel, retail space, multifamily housing for rent, multifamily housing for sale and other hospitality accommodations.

Currently, the developers are working with city staff members to create a detailed concept plan but they hope to break ground this time next year. Essentially, they are still in the second phase of applying for a PDZ. They still must hold community workshops before submitting a formal application.

“We want the application to be satisfactory so you know the product that is coming,” Henriod told the city council. “We will be real sensitive and keep communication open to mitigate concerns early on.”