All seven members of the Cache County Council were unified Tuesday in their opposition to developer-proposed code changes that would have allowed apartments in Logan Canyon.
Developer John Brandley has been exploring avenues that would allow him to build 34 apartment units on the 3.77-acre Zanavoo property, a vacant motel and restaurant located 3 miles into the canyon. On Tuesday, the County Council unanimously rejected two code changes Brandley proposed that would impact much more than just the Zanavoo property.
He proposed a pair of code amendments that would unconditionally allow up to 15 multi-family housing units per acre in the Commercial zone, a significant increase from the current limit of two units per acre. The seven council members took turns explaining why they think that would be a terrible idea.
“I think simply changing what’s allowed in the Commercial zone has ramifications way beyond just the Zanavoo property and as a consequence, I think we would be ill-advised to allow something like that,” Councilman Karl Ward said.
Council Chairman David Erickson said the developer is going through the process backwards. He said zoning ordinances shouldn’t be changed based on a single property.
“I think that we vet the changes in ordinances before and then people live within the established ordinance,” Erickson said. “If they don’t like those ordinances, then they go for a rezone.”
Several council members said it would be wise to include this discussion in the upcoming comprehensive general plan update. In an interview Wednesday, County Planning Manager Chris Harrild said the county will send out a request for proposals at the end of this year seeking a consulting firm to work on the general plan update beginning in the first quarter of 2019.
He said the original general plan was completed 20 years ago, and plans like that should typically be updated every five years.
“We’ve had some minor stuff along the way like regarding some trails updates but as a whole it hasn’t been updated since 1998,” Harrild said.
After the plan was approved in 1998, Harrild said it was almost immediately put on the shelf and wasn’t really applied to ordinances. Once the new general plan is completed in two years or more, Harrild said he would hope to see a direct correlation between the plan and county code.
Harrild said Brandley, who did not immediately respond to a phone call on Wednesday, now has a few choices in developing the Zanavoo property. The code would allow for seven housing units on the 3.77 acres, or Brandley could instead seek a hotel, restaurant or recreational uses.
“They have some other options,” Harrild said. “It’s just not what they want.”
A few members of the public who spoke during Tuesday’s meeting expressed their take on what should happen at Zanavoo.
Don Jensen, who said he’s lived in the valley for 43 years, said he wasn’t aware of the zoning issues, but he would like to see something happen at the restaurant and motel that have been closed for about 10 years.
“I would just like to see Zanavoo rescued and saved, and I think Mr. Brandley could do it,” Jensen said.
Logan resident Cindy Larsen said the canyon is a treasure and she wants to keep it that way. She said building multifamily housing would set a precedent that would lead to more development.
“It’s just irreplaceable,” Larsen said of Logan Canyon. “Once you start building there it’s like putting in a four-lane highway.”