Sandy • Bell Canyon Acres Equestrian Estates has long been a place zoned for residents who want a place to live and enjoy their horses.
But now the development has evolved, and among the horse pastures there are upscale homes with massive driveways, swimming pools and concrete athletic courts.
Some residents in the area are afraid that as older properties are sold, new owners will build larger homes and structures, effectively pushing out the equestrian feel of the area.
The concern spurred the neighborhood’s homeowner association to bring a proposal to the City Council for amending the existing ordinance to a more defined one.
On Tuesday, a couple of residents voiced support for the ordinance change at a public hearing before the Sandy City Council, however, the city decided to send the decision back to the planning commission and set up a subcommittee with HOA members to weigh out the pros and cons.
“Our concern is that we maintain the integrity of Bell Canyon Acres,” said Fred Lowry, a resident and representative with the HOA.
He said a lot of landowners are “old farm boys” and they want to “retain that.” Lowry said owners fear properties are being rebuilt without equestrian purposes. More large homes with basketball and tennis courts would be “a threat to the integrity of that neighborhood,” he said.
Another resident, Robert Cooper said he wanted to be involved in the decisions that were going to be made.
“My concern is this dialogue is taking place without including the entire neighborhood involved,” Cooper said.
The current special zoning district calls for the development near 10600 South and 1300 East to allow for at least 5,000 square feet of land dedicated as Farm Animal Area Set Aside. Currently, the ordinance is not very specific what is considered set aside area for a farm animal besides a barn or stable. Initially, the homeowners association wanted the minimum set aside space width on the property to be increased from 25 feet to 50 feet to maintain the equestrian lifestyle of the area. The planning commission came to a compromise of 35 feet in December.
The changes may look small on paper, but council member Chris McCandless pointed out that it could make a big impact to property owners and cause unintended consequences. After visiting the Bell Canyon area, McCandless feared the change may end up putting some properties automatically in violation of the zoning ordinance.
“I think it has some significant impacts,” McCandless said.
After the meeting, McCandless spoke of one resident’s property that had roughly 70 percent of land used up between mandatory setbacks from the road and horse trails that were on the property. None of which counted toward the mandatory 5,000 square feet of farm animal area.
The Bell Canyon development began in the late 1960s, according to McCandless, who said,“Sandy was a different city then.”