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Cottonwood Heights Journal

How a decade-long zoning error left this Cottonwood Heights property with limited options

Feb 24, 2020 11:48AM ● By Cassie Goff

The owner of this building has had difficulty leasing as per zoning noncompliance. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

The owner of the building located at 2540 Bengal Boulevard requested a rezone for the building’s zoning designation. As city staff members researched his request, they noticed the zoning was changed without any legislative action from the Cottonwood Heights City Council. This minor color change on a map had major implications for the building owner. 

The sub-leased office building has been a part of the city since its incorporation. When the request to change the zoning was made, the building was zoned R-1-8 (single-family residential) which made “everything about this building nonconforming,” said Community and Economic Development Director Michael Johnson.

Since the building was nonconforming according to the city’s zoning ordinances, leasing out the space was very difficult for the building owner. He recounted losing money because of the nonconforming zoning. 

All of the city staff’s research suggests the building should have been zoned NC (neighborhood commercial) all along. Salt Lake County had it zoned as NC before Cottonwood Heights was incorporated. The city’s original zoning document from 2005 shows the intent of having the building zoned as NC. On the zoning map, all of the adjacent buildings were zoned neighborhood commercial. When analyzing the building, city staff determined that the long use of the building should be neighborhood commercial, as it would comply more with the city’s general plan. 

However, in September 2009, the zoning changed from NC to R-1-8. “There’s no reason why that should have happened,” said Johnson.

When taken to the Cottonwood Heights Planning Commission, some of the commissioners were concerned about some uses such as tattoo parlors, tobacco/vape shops, marijuana pharmacies, CBD shops, private clubs and check cashing or loan businesses. However, they ultimately recommend approval of the rezone. 

On Feb. 4, Ordinance 339-A, amending the building for a rezone from residential single family to neighborhood commercial was approved by the Cottonwood Heights City Council unanimously.