Land-use requests in Erda are keeping county officials wary of potential spot zoning problems.
The Tooele County Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Tooele County Commission deny an application to rezone a 6.39 acre parcel on the northeast corner of Droubay Road and Erda Way from rural residential with 5-acre minimum lot size to rural residential with a 1-acre minimum lot size.
The unanimous vote to recommend denial of the application was made at the planning commission’s Wednesday night meeting in the auditorium of the Tooele County building.
Alyssa Coombs applied for the zone change so her parents, the owners of the 6.39-acre parcel, could carve out a 1-acre parcel for Coombs and her family.
“We just want to give Alyssa an acre so she and our grandchildren can live closer,” said Lynn Falkner, Coombs father. “We have no plans to divide our property any further.”
The staff report on the rezone application recommended denial of the rezone asserting that approving the request would amount to spot zoning.
The report pointed out that while there are some 1-acre lots in Erda, property adjacent to the subject property is zoned RR-5 with other RR-5 and A-20 property in the vicinity.
“Planning staff is concerned that approval of the requested rezone would set a precedence for spot rezoning within the unincorporated areas of Tooele County. Spot rezoning of individual lots could become normalized, without being contiguous to parcels with the same zoning designation and similar lot sizes, or without access to appropriate water and sewer connections,” read the staff report prepared by Tooele County planning staff.
Coombs argued that her parent’s property is in a unique location and that granting the rezone request would not be spot zoning.
“The property is surrounded by main roads on two sides and the Alpine Academy on the other two sides,” Coombs said. “That makes the property unique and different from any property in the area.”
The Falkner’s neighbors, Scott and Jolene Droubay and Alpine Academy, supported the rezone request.
However, other residents in the neighborhood opposed it.
Ivan Bedell said he was concerned that if a rezone to RR-1 was approved for Coombs that Alpine Academy would also request a rezone so it could expand.
Eric Bjorklund, president of Utah Youth Village that owns and operates Alpine Academy, told the planning commission that Alpine Academy has no plans to expand its program at the location bordering the Falkner’s property.
“We have no interest in expanding,” Bjorklund said. “Our business model would not allow that. We can’t have any more than we presently have, so 1-acre zoning would not make a difference.”
Leanne Bedell objected to the RR1 rezone.
“It would allow building more houses closer together,” she said. “That would change the lifestyle we now enjoy.”
In a written response to the rezone request, Dwight and Bertha Clark, also objected to the rezone request.
“If that property is rezoned to less than five acres, there is no reason for us to believe that this will not create a domino effect and many other property owners will request the same thing,” they wrote. “The results of this, of course, will be the transformation of Erda into a mini-Los Angeles and the rural Erda atmosphere, the reason most of us moved here, will be destroyed.”
After the planning commission voted to recommend denial of the rezone application, Planning Commission Chairman Lynn Butterfield said that the county has an accessory housing ordinance that the Falkner’s could possibly use to accommodate their daughter on their property without rezoning the property.