The Tooele County Planning Commission approved permits that will help a private business restore the old Millpond Farm near Mills Junction.
The planning commission approved a change in an old conditional use permit along with a new conditional use permit for the owner of the Coulter House during its meeting Wednesday night at the County Building.
The new permit designates the existing Coulter House as an auxiliary dwelling unit to a new single-family residence to be built on the property east of the Coulter House.
The Coulter House is a historical building located on state Route 138 west of Benson Gristmill. It has 3,255-square feet with 677-square feet used as a primary residence.The remainder of the house operates as a reception and event center as a cottage industry under a conditional use permit issued in 2014.
The planning commission also approved an amendment to the 2014 permit that will allow an expansion of the existing cottage industry to include reception center space in the new home. The new house will incorporate the historic bunkhouse on the property.
Bryan Coulter, owner of the Coulter House, applied for the permit. He wants to move into the new house with his wife and use the additional proceeds from the expansion of the reception center to restore the Millpond Farm.
Coulter said his plans include the restoration of grain bins and two barns on the property along with the bunkhouse.
“We want to use private funds to restore the Millpond Farm and make it a nice place for the community,” he said.
The existing Coulter House has hosted, at low or no cost, many community functions including school fundraisers, meetings and the Stansbury Art and Literary Society, according to Coulter.
The planning commission considered Coulter’s request at its March 20 meeting, but tabled the proposal and asked Coulter to consider a rezone for commercial use.
“We appreciate the thought, but we don’t want to be commercial,” Coulter said.
Under a commercial zone, to have both a commercial use and a residential use under the same roof, the Coulter’s would have to run a bed and breakfast, according to Jeff Miller, Tooele County planning staff.
“We don’t want to run a bed and breakfast,” Coulter said. “And we don’t have any plan to expand for other uses.”
The Coulters pay property tax based on commercial use of the Coulter House and parking lot. Rezoning the entire farm, which is currently zoned A-20, would increase property taxes and make the business unprofitable and make the restoration impossible, Coulter said.
Without the expanded reception center business, Coulter said he would most likely sell the property.
During the public hearing on Coulter’s requests, the only speaker was Ken Webb of Erda.
“There’s been no negative comments from the neighbors,” Webb said. “He seems to be running a good business. I’ve seen what goes on there and it’s a marvel to have that in our county. We’ve seen what a developer would do with that property. They tear down historical buildings. What does that accomplish?”
The Tooele County planning staff determined that the Coulter House could comply with all the requirements for an accessory housing unit. The planning staff also determined that the proposed cottage industry for the new residence could be compatible with the surrounding residential uses.
The planning staff recommended several conditions for the amended conditional use permit, including the installation of shrubs and hedges as a buffer to the residential area adjacent to the existing Coulter House as required by the original conditional use permit.
The planning commission approved both the new and amended conditional use permit with a unanimous vote.