Tooele City officials learned about properties within the city that could be on a list for high-density residential development at a meeting Wednesday.
Jim Bolser, the city’s community development director, spent about an hour during a city council work meeting reviewing parcels of land that could be suitable for high-density housing.
The council is currently considering a pair of high-density developments that would require a zone change from general commercial to high-density housing. The first is located at 2400 N. 600 East and the second at 850 N. 100 East.
Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy and the council asked Bolser to explain the current zoning situation as they move forward with plans for Tooele’s expected population growth. The information would be passed on to the Tooele City Planning Commission and potential developers.
“The council and administration needs to be very sensitive to the question of what we want to be as a city, what do we want the city to look like,” Dunlavy said. “High density housing, put in the right place with the right project design, works well and fills a need. The city’s current zoning, along with our experience in planning, can help ensure a good outcome for the city and the developer.”
Bolser included city-owned areas that could be used for high-density housing, private land where some owners have expressed interest in high-density housing developments, and remaining land that already is zoned for high-density housing.
“It is important to emphasize the word ‘potential’ so these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt,” Bolser said. “In summary there are 17 properties with a total of 266 acres that could provide 3,000 units. These are mathematical presentations only.”
Randy Sant, the city’s economic development consultant, said information on the marketability of high-density housing, as part of an economic development study for Tooele City, should be completed in two to four weeks.
“Based on what Jim (Bolser) has said … in my mind we probably have plenty of property already zoned high density to meet the demands of the market,” Sant said. “We do think the market has changed where more apartments could be absorbed. … If anybody is going to come in and request to have a piece of ground rezoned (for high-density housing) they need to do a study so we know whether those units can be absorbed given the overall market conditions.”
Councilman Scott Wardle indicated that the city should not approve high-density developments that would create future problems for the city.
“We should look for quality growth versus quantity growth,” he said. “We don’t want to approve developments that would eventually turn into low-quality developments that would require higher police response rates and those sort of things.”
Councilman Steve Pruden said the city should not give away areas for residential development that are perfect for commercial use. He said more commercial business means more tax revenue.
“There are certain areas that are perfect for high-residential use, but other areas where it would be ridiculous,” Pruden said.
Councilman Brad Pratt said it is important to keep commercial and light industrial areas together.
“When we start chewing those areas up with high-density housing and begin rezoning those areas it damages the commercial outlook,” Pratt said.
Bolser said planning and zoning administrator Rachelle Custer did a lot of the research in gathering the list of properties for potential high-density residential consideration.
“Now that we have a baseline, it will be very easy to update as we go,” Bolser said.
According to Tooele City Code the purpose of a high density residential zone is to provide an environment and opportunities for high density residentual uses, including single-family residential units, apartments, condominiums and townhouses.